Slot is an ambitious and popular company. It’s safe to assume that you, a friend or a friend’s friend has done business with the hardware retailer at some point. Which points to the fact that Slot is quite famous and well connected. Since about 2000, when they started in a box of a shop inside Computer Village (or CV as everyone calls it these days), Slot has grown into a humongous corporation with tentacles reaching all 36 states and Abuja. But you know what hasn’t changed about Slot? Its unimaginative brand identity.
This is sad, for three major reasons. One, the company, through its expanding partnerships with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and celebrities, has become more visible. Its billboards and banners are in your face everywhere you turn. They have extremely colourful visuals with bold graphics that can compete with those from Tecno and Huawei. But because of their brand identity, mainly the plain, uninspired logo and the garish red colour, Slot cannot shake its downmarket look and feel. It tries to play at world class but it only comes off as a pretender.
Two, Slot is expanding into manufacturing. The other day, I saw its branded charger and it was one of those pieces of accessories you might want to buy because of its braided fabric cord. Braided cords, as you might have discovered, beat Apple’s cords all the time. But then my eye caught the logo on the Slot charger. It’s there, sitting on about 40% of space, grossly lacking in grace and the whole thing just screamed no-taste.
The founder of Slot might think design is not important but that’s not true. He should perhaps ask his marketing people to dig up some literature on Ferrari’s, Steve Jobs’, Google’s, Motorola’s and the new Microsoft’s philosophy on the subject. If Slot is interested in selling its accessories to HNIs, enterprise, and the educated youth, it needs to start looking the part. Accessory manufacturers like Knomo, Griffin and Moshi have made millions on the backs of Apple and Google largely because of their dedication to great design. Design is also one of the reasons an iPhone sells more than any other brand out there. So, don’t pretend that it doesn’t matter. It does.
Unfortunately, Slot’s insouciant relationship with its visual language has permeated its entire operation. From the way its shops are organised and the uniforms its staff wear to its trade magazine, the company suggests that it is okay with being low class. Even premium brands go to the Slot shops to lose their looks of success. LG, Samsung, Microsoft, Apple become nobodies once they move into a nook in a Slot outlet [wait, Slotlet?].
Three, and probably the most important reason. What will happen if a premium-looking international retailer sets up in Nigeria, backed with millions of dollars in funding and a strategy to open a shop across the hall from all Slot centres across the country? If its prices are not ridiculously outrageous and its staff are friendly, informed, properly groomed, wouldn’t you give them a try? I bet a trial will (ahem) convince you.
Slot has been great, obviously. But Slot also needs to grow up. One way to start doing that is to suit up for global business.