Anomaly’s Equal Advantage program looks to build BIPOC brands

Toronto-based fashion designer Emefa Kuadey started rolling out new branding for her Israella Kobla clothing label this month. It was developed by Anomaly as part of a special program to support small BIPOC businesses.

The agency created a full visual identity and social playbook for the three-year-old fashion label. “I absolutely love the new branding,” said Kuadey. “They struck the perfect balance between keeping the key elements of the old logo and branding, and pushing it to a more elevated and functional place.”

The work was created by Equal Advantage, a new program launched by a group of Anomaly Toronto employees in May 2021 with a goal of building BIPOC brands in the community. Israella Kobla was chosen as the first client because it is a Black-owned sustainable brand.

Kuadey is a civil-engineer-turned-fashion-designer, whose engineering education influences her minimalist designs. In Kuadey, Anomaly saw a change agent focused on slow production, a more thoughtful supply chain, and a strong commitment to community.

And while she’s a talented up-and-coming designer, Kuadey said she sometimes struggled to convey her thoughts and ideas for the brand. Anomaly believed it could help elevate her brand and enable easier one-to-one connections with its consumers.

“The [Anomaly] team took the time to really break down my vision, then bring more clarity and direction to it and then captured it so beautifully in the final work they gave me,” said Kuadey.

The agency provided templates and guidelines for how to communicate the brand across its social channels. “Now I feel like I can take a more hands off approach,” said Kuadey. “I recently hired a social media manager and she was able to quickly grasp the essence of the brand by reviewing the Visual Brand Guide that Anomaly created.”

This was the core goal behind Equal Advantage: Help BIPOC business leaders build their brands.

“We wanted to help make the businesses in our city as diverse and well-represented as our city itself,” said Graham Nhlamba, designer at Anomaly and one of the founders of Equal Advantage. ”Ultimately, we wanted to see ourselves—the communities we come from, live in and support—represented in the work we do.”

“I loved how excited everyone was to be working with Israella Kobla,” said Kuadey. “It was such a great collaborative process, and they treated me as if I was a paying client, which I really respected.”

Now that Equal Advantage’s first project is complete, the search is underway for the next client. The initiative is also being adopted by Anomaly’s New York office.

“Anomaly is built on the belief that diverse thinking leads to better work—it’s part of our DNA,” said Candace Borland, Anomaly partner, president. “We couldn’t be more proud of our Equal Advantage team and the incredible partnership with Israella Kobla.”

David Brown