Simon Charwey - Shalom

(Shalom Dental Clinic logo design)

Why it Speaks Among Non-native: Oral Care/Hygiene

One unique challenge my client was presented with before coming to me is this: “How do I make oral hygiene or dental care a thing among non-native aside the traditional methods they are used to?” In other words, how do we create a centre that encourages people to visit the dentist or the dental clinic like a normal routine thing?
Most new clients that come to me are intrigued by the way I am able to find hidden patterns in indigenous African design systems like Adinkra symbols, among others to create logo and brand identity design solutions that underpin the values and beliefs of those brands I have worked with.

Fabio Moioli, head consulting and services at Microsoft said something that resonates with my thoughts process as a brand identity designer: “Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.”
Nothing excites a man more than trying to impress a lady friend — well, not exactly. A lady friend of mine and investment advisor contacted me to design her mum’s dental clinic based in Kumasi, Kente Place junction, Adiembra, opposite Forestry Commission. The client’s team wanted a unique and enviable mark to represent their dental clinic. A mark that will resonate with the targeted audience (both natives and nonnatives); simply beautiful, friendly, family oriented, and welcoming. And most importantly, trying to eliminate the stigma usually attached to oral hygiene or dental care in Ghana — it being a scary and complicated procedure among others.


Throughout the research stage, my initial conversation was with the client’s team (dentists), informal chats with random people (families or visitors) at the Kumasi City Mall. And some fun interactions with friends who are clinical student dentists at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, KNUST, Kumasi. And one keyword that keeps resurfacing was “smile.” Though others used the phrase “a confident smile” to answer the question — Which one word or phase will you use to describe why dental care is necessary?


Other keywords and phrases that both the client’s team and I agreed to be tied to “smile” and “a confident smile” were clean, fresh, interdependence, friendship, friendly and family-oriented space. So I thought of the smile usually shared among friends and families. The key phrase here is “a shared smile.” With that in mind, it is now time to revisit indigenous African design systems like the Adinkra symbols among others for inspiration. A memorable symbology that underpins the idea I wanted to capture and/or, sometimes, a symbol that visually shares some prototypical element(s) with the idea — “a shared smile” or “a beautiful smile” — I am about representing as Shalom Dental Clinic’s unique mark.
The symbols I have picked were a poppy flower to evoke something beautiful; and the “Ese ne tekrema” Adinkra symbol to capture the essence of interdependence between the teeth and the tongue. Dr Gyimah, a dentist at KATH, commented on the final logo as follows: “At a first glance, it looks like the poppy flower. Then you look and you see the teeth.”