• Adams Namayi University of Nairobi
Keywords: Small and Medium Enterprise, Advertising, Branding, Graphic Design


Graphic design (GD) plays a crucial role in visual advertising, serving as a tool to inform, educate, and persuade towards brand loyalty. Despite its significance, Small Furniture Enterprises (SFEs) in Kenya consider graphic design professionals, processes, and final products excessively costly, limiting its applicability in advertising. Instead, most enterprises rely on less effective marketing methods such as roadside exhibitions, wordof-mouth, and referrals, making them highly dependent on unsustainable roadside manufacturing and vulnerable to market competition. This research probes graphic design strategies in SFE advertising within Nairobi County, Kenya, objectively aiming to analyze the various graphic designs utilized in branding and advertising. Guided by (Brown, 1979) "Graphics Triangle Theory," encompassing explanation, persuasion, and identification values, which are also defined as tenets of the theory, this study targeted an accessible population of 940 SFEs, ultimately selecting a representative sample of 273 licensed SFEs with physical business premises. Employing systematic random sampling and further supplemented by snowballing seventeen welfare leaders, the research collected data through questionnaires, interviews, and observations. The study's reliability and validity were guaranteed and confirmed by an 89.6% response rate, providing quantitative data that was analyzed descriptively through percentages and frequency distributions. At the same time, qualitative data (including narratives and photographs) were also meticulously coded and analyzed. Demographic findings indicate that SFE management is predominantly male-dominated, where most SFE managers possess KCSE and CPE education levels while others have entrepreneurial skills, which largely stem from apprenticeship programs. While SFEs principally acknowledge the role of graphic design in advertising, it is not their preferred choice due to its perceived high cost, time consumption, complexity, and low significance. Based on these diverse perceptions and challenges, the only graphic design practice found popular in most SFEs is photographs, often shared through social media, and some used in enterprise stationery, posters, and flyers. Most graphic designs used are either produced by enterprise owners, managers, and family members or sourced from non-graphic design professionals, hence a low communication value observed in most visual advertising products. The implication of the study is that, increased graphic design awareness, promotion, production, and application among small enterprises could largely enhance their advertising strategies, especially those that lean towards emerging e-businesses leveraging small enterprise market competitiveness. The study recommends individual small enterprises or those operating in clusters to explore graphic design professionals, processes, and products that are available, affordable, and sustainable as a strategy to address their advertising needs and achieve increased market competitiveness.