Transforming a chatbot brand into a safe space for sexual health with young Kenyans
  • Partner: Girl Effect
  • Sector: Equity & Equality
  • Location: Kenya

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  • Brand & Content
  • Research & Strategy

Girl Effect is an international non-profit making media girls want, trust and need. In Kenya, girls need access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and advice.

Together with their Kenya team and a group of passionate girls and young women  in Nairobi and Migori counties, we launched Wazzii: a revolutionary chatbot for Kenyan Youth.

The brand’s pilot phase reached 5 million young people in 3 months and resulted in almost 13,000 chatbot users, truly meeting our goal of creating a space for youth. 

Reached 5,000,000 young people
through social media, radio campaigns and ground activations in Nairobi, Migori and across Kenya during pilot phase
The chatbot onboarded 12,700 users
who accessed sexual and reproductive health advice from professionals
Users 25% more likely to access health services
for their sexual health than non-users

The challenge

Sexual health isn’t sexy. It’s dry, clinical, and awkward – especially for young people in urban Nairobi and rural Migori where stigmas, systemic cultural barriers and gender power dynamics make it difficult to even talk about sex. 

Young people need access to accurate information and healthcare support, without feeling shame. They need a space where they feel able to be themselves, talk freely, and be curious about relationships and sexual health. 

To do that in a way that got buy-in from Kenyan youth, Girl Effect recognised that the brand needed to resonate with them and speak their language. Our big task was the dreaded c-word: how can we make sexual health services cool? 

The solution

Want a cool brand? Ask cool people to make it with you. Our audience became our co-creation team, with a group of young Kenyans joining us in workshops at every stage of the branding process. As a result, the brand reflected their personality, looked nothing like a health services brand, and was named ‘Wazzii’ – an intentional misspelling of Swahili slang, described to us as something like using ‘yaaaaaaassss’ instead of ‘yes.’

The bright, colourful brand –  which had subtle culturally relevant patterns and carefully curated illustrations that were bespoke to rural and urban areas –  was activated on and offline, creating a genuine ‘space’ for young people to connect with each other, and with the chatbot, with zero shame.

Key Insights
In-person research
It was essential to Girl Effect that this brand was designed and created with young people in Kenya. So we flew to Nairobi and conducted in-person workshops with Girl Effect and their Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) to understand what they wanted and needed from this chatbot. It’s the little nuggets of insight and connection that happen when you're in the room with people!
Branding a Whatsapp Chat bot

Creating the identity for a brand is one thing, but creating the identity for a Whatsapp Chat Bot requires a deeper understanding of context and tone of voice. For example, when we established that Wazzii was not going to be a single entity but rather a space, we switched from a first to a third-person persona and developed scripts to ensure that our concept worked in all applications, whether it was in marketing collateral or the Whatsapp Chat Bot.

Co-creating creativity

Putting young people at the heart of the brand meant the key decisions needed to sit with them. We crafted activities with the YAP that established Wazzii’s verbal and visual identity and ran testing sessions with  youth from Nairobi and Migori throughout the process. The end result? A product whose concept, name, and branding were all designed by its audience.

Making sexual and reproductive health sexy

Our audience did not want an authoritative and academic source of information or a chatbot that jumped to providing solutions as the first step. Instead, they wanted a human, customisable, personal and authentic user experience. This is how we landed the idea of Wazzii as a space, rather an individual character bot.

Local context

As an agency based in London, it was key to ensure meaningful audience representation and input when developing the branding, centering local experience, language and context ahead of our own assumptions. Working in close collaboration with the Girl Effect team, Girl Effect’s youth advisory panel and local consultants helped to bridge this gap.

  • Working with Shape History was a pleasure and an easy experience. From incorporating local experience then including their expert conceptual ideas. It all melded together to produce exactly what we needed. Thank you Shape!

    Telewa Furaha
    Senior Programme Manager, Girl Effect

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