The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers to make melodious sounds. Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3500 BC. The instrument had great popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it evolved into a wide range of variants with new technologies, and was disseminated to Europe’s colonies, finding particular popularity in Latin America. Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia. Descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa, and other defunct variants in Europe and Asia have been utilized by musicians in the modern era.
The harp, which serves as the Guinness emblem, is based on a famous 14th century Irish harp known as the “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru” harp which is now preserved in the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The harp device has been synonymous with Guinness since 1862 when it was used as a symbol on the first bottle label for GUINNESS®. It was registered as a Guinness company trademark in 1876. It is because of the harp trademark that Guinness named its first lager ‘Harp’ in 1960.
Odunbori Olalekan Iskil is an Art Director in a Digital Advertising Agency (Playhouse Communication Ltd). He is a multi-talented, creative artist with expertise in Drawing, Painting, Graphic design and Craft. He is an indigene of Ota, Ogun state and a graduate of Yaba College of Technology, Yaba Lagos, where he obtained Higher National Diploma (HND) in Painting. Lekan discovered an online design contest by Guinness Nigeria named “Design Your Own ‘Africa Special’ Harp” and participated with the entry image displayed above.
In 2015, Guinness Nigeria Plc. launched a new drink called Guinness Africa Special, a variant of the iconic Guinness foreign extra stout, and made from herbs, spices and ginger grown in Africa. They tweaked their original logo in order to suit the branding of the Africa Special drink.
In 2016, Guinness Nigeria put up this design contest in order to encourage young creative talents, who are not afraid to follow their passion and dare to be different. They asked Nigerian designers to come up with their own versions of the Africa Special Harp. The harp being a musical instrument inspired the design. In order to make the harp look more African, he used African musical instruments combined with some natural African herb extracts which represent the flavour of the drink and some African motifs to form the harp. The vibrant colours used in the design represent the electric energy of modern Africa.
The harp is one of three elements that make up the GUINNESS® livery. The other two elements are the GUINNESS® word and Arthur Guinness’s famous signature. There have been a number of changes to the design of the harp device over the years including a reduction in the number of strings shown. The current harp was introduced in 2005 when a new brand livery was launched.