AKÍBA, which means thank you in Fang, an equatorial Guinean language, is a massage and wellness place in Barcelona. I was commissioned to develop an identity that represents the connection between the two important pillars of its owner: the health of the body and Africa. The space is led by founder Tamara Nong Bielo, an African woman from Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) based in Barcelona, who believes in the importance of thanking your body for sustaining you every day.
AKÍBA is built on sustainable values, respecting the environment, promoting fair trade and responsible consumption with all products used in the space.
The biggest challenge about developing this identity was the representation of the connection between the health of the body and the brand’s strong association with Africa.
Three layers make up the AKIBA identity: the wordmark, as the core of the brand; Visual system with unique patterns; and color, in a natural and inclusive visual design that complements the brand, but also with a strong personality.
The creation of AKÍBA’s logo letterform was inspired by historically referenced elements such as African pattern fabrics, where geometric forms and duplicate lines denote Africa. Taking this visual idea into a logo is the way AKIBA’s logotype was created.
The logotype was also designed with the intention of breaking from the ‘fine and delicate’ category criteria found in traditional massage and relaxation brands. I used recognizable energy signs of Africa to trace and create a bold and strong letterform logo.
This logo also allowed us to develop our own visual system. Using each letter and playing with it through position and repetition, generate many unique reticles that only AKÍBA could have. Again African fabric patterns are the inspiration in making this design.
The color palette is inspired by nature and varied skin tones. The exploratory mixing and matching of skin and nature tones led to a color palette that looked natural and close-knit.
But, as we already know, AKÍBA is not only a place where you can heal your body, but a place of holistic healing with the promise of vitality. This was the rationale for a bright color within the brand lock-up to generate contrast with the warmer part of the design identity.
It should be noted that the founder intends to expand his vision to Malabo in the future, hence the need to adapt the design identity. This is why we need a forward-thinking identity with the ability to work visually in two different cities and cultures, such as Barcelona (now) and Malabo (in the future).
The combination of all the design elements creates an unconventional design for a massage brand. A brand that adapts to being bold and expressive when necessary, and gentle when infused with relaxation and massage.
Be sure to check out Tamara Gonzalez’s website for more information.