So emé started as a tiny seed of an idea… in the minds of two people, who were yet to even meet. In their different corners of the world, learning about the way things work, they never realised that they had the same niggling feeling about helping people make a real change.
Back in 2001, Jojoh was a design student in the UK. She realised that the design she was learning about, would not entirely fit with the reality back home, in west Africa. Design thinking, in those days, was about “dumbing down” the design, or transplanting technology from one setting to the next. Whilst some components could work, however, there needed to be a real shift in thinking about design for context. She wandered off into the development sector for a while, to try to understand how social change happens and how design approaches could be conceptualised in a way that fit the African realities. And, slowly she started imagining a design agency that understood how to work within complexity, by designing for context, whilst still maintaining a high-level of quality.
Meanwhile, in Dakar, Senegal, Cheikh was also thinking about how to develop better, more effective ways for people within his community to better engage with information that changes the status quo for good. He worked with young people and women and realised that their empowerment depended on better access to information. And this, in turn, built self-confidence and led to better decision-making. He also recognised that often, information was available, but not accessible. This was because the formats or language used or solutions identified did not suit the audience nor the African context. His passion for a better humanity grew, as he developed capacity around bottom-of-the-pyramid marketing, social innovation, value promotions and empowerment. And he discovered that successful interventions started with getting the right information into the hands of the right people. He started thinking about the promotion of behavioural change that would value the African heritage, without shutting the door to globalisation.
When we met in 2010, there was an instant connection, both professionally and personally. We worked on a number of projects together, learning to balance each other out, before co-founding emé in 2014. We’ve since developed a reputable boutique creative agency, known for its innovative concepts, flexible approaches, solutions that fit and professionalism. It’s truly been a rollercoaster of a ride, with a lot of fun and lesson learning on the way. We still hold true to our core vision of being a thriving, productive agency that helps clients move from ideas to meaningful impact.
So, what does emé mean?
The word ’emé’, like our agency, mixes and matches different concepts to bring about uniqueness every time.
- First of all, it’s an African name from the Efik language and means ‘precious stone, precious pearls of the ocean’. It reflects how we approach design, investing tirelessly to develop timeless and valuable solutions. It’s also the energy, resourcefulness and persistence nature of our hustle.
- Pronounced ‘aimé’, which is the same as ‘love’ in French, it also captures the passion and energy we have for what we do. And it’s the understanding, empathy and fluidity that allows us to overcome obstacles.
- And finally, Emé is also a girl’s name in German, which means ‘all-containing; universal’, showing how we see design thinking as a transversal and holistic way of understanding and contributing to our shared world. It’s that methodical, diligent and clutter-free way of designing.
And so, as simple as it is, emé encapsulates our core message of being creative, passionate and authentic, in one tidy concept.