Brand of the Rising Sun May Need Resuscitation

Nearly seven months after the Tohoku earthquake and the ensuing tsunami ravaged its east coast, Japan is not just rebuilding its physical infrastructure but is also focusing on resuscitating its once-infallible brand image.

Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry (METI) has launched an ambitious one billion yen, or about $13 million, campaign to restore confidence in Japanese brands and, at the same time, promote the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in Asia’s fast-growing economies.

The ‘Cool Japan’ campaign, METI believes, is crucial not only to maintain the competitive edge of Japanese products and services but also bring back the appeal of Japanese branding, which it admits has been affected by the earthquake that occurred in March.

Read the rest of the story: Brand of the Rising Sun.

Summer of Setsuden, A Marketing and By the People Success in Japan

After a long, hot and dark summer in Japan, the days are cooler and the nights are brighter. For this the Japanese can give thanks not just to September, but also to setsuden, or “energy saving,” an ambitious and strikingly successful campaign to conserve electricity after the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant disasters.

The destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi plant led Japan to shut down all but 15 of its 54 nuclear reactors. This was a huge blow to a country that depends heavily on nuclear power and has made scant investments in renewable energy. As summer approached, the only way to avoid a national energy emergency was through drastic conservation. And so the Japanese powered down.

The government required big power users to reduce peak consumption by 15 percent. Utilities pleaded with consumers to pitch in. Industries, offices and private households turned lights off and thermostats up, above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Office workers traded suits and ties for kariyushi shirts, the Okinawan version of aloha wear. They moved their shifts to early mornings and weekends, climbed the stairs and worked by the dim glow of computer screens and LED lamps. Families stopped doing laundry every day; department stores and subway stations turned off the air-conditioning. Posters of happy cartoon light bulbs urged everybody to pitch in.

Read the rest of the story: In Japan, the Summer of Setsuden.

Kashiwa Sato – The Creative Mind Behind ‘Cool Japan’

Kashiwa Sato is the face behind many of Japan’s most famous designs — from the logos for Fast Retailing’s casual-clothing chain Uniqlo to artwork for Japan’s popular boy band SMAP and premier fashion designer Issey Miyake. Now he is taking on a new challenge as the creative mind behind the country’s new logo and message representing “Cool Japan,” the government’s campaign to promote modern Japanese culture abroad. It will be used by Japanese agencies and companies.

This week Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda selected the 46-year-old’s design out of 99 submissions. The logo is similar to Japan’s national flag, with a bright red sun in the center against a white backdrop. But Mr. Sato’s sun is blazing ahead toward the future, with spiky rays streaking across the white background. Below it is Mr. Sato’s simple message to the world: “Japan Next.”

Read the rest of the story: The Creative Mind Behind ‘Cool Japan’.