Today's Notables

Brand Strategy at TK

May 2005
Hisashi Furuichi
President and C.E.O.

Twenty years ago, the importance of corporate identity (CI) was popular topic of consideration. Identity itself means the collection of characteristics that makes something recognizable or known, but also means having distinct or unique characteristics that give something individuality. Corporate identity is part of an overall management strategy that makes use of logos, colors and design as a visual means to impart a corporate image to customers and employees. In the past several years, it has become increasing more important to develop CI as a brand. Developing CI alone will not however increase the value of the corporation; CI as a brand must be fostered.

In Japan, many people readily recognize European brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Gucci, for example. These corporate brands are doing well and enjoying brisk sales despite a sluggish Japanese economy. This is substantial evidence that the more established a brand is, the better and longer it can sell even at a higher price. Establishing a brand is not an overnight proposition, and even the brands that have been established over a long period of time, can fall overnight.

At TK, we kept CI strategy in mind when we developed the current mid-term operations plan three years ago, but not to the extent of having a comprehensive theoretical basis for a corporate identity strategy. Through an acquaintance, however, I met someone who is an expert in brand strategy. After reading information about his company and his book, I became acutely aware of the importance of brand strategy. After discussing it internally, I decided to hire his company to consult for TK regarding our brand strategy. The name of the company is Gramco Ltd. and is Japan's large branding firm. They have an impressive list of clients for whom they've developed a brand strategy. Mr. Yamada, who is the president of Gramco Ltd., explained that in order to successfully develop a corporate or product brand, you must give your number one stakeholder (the customer) a positive experience and good impression several times over. Over time, they will think of you first and there will be a natural propensity to "spread the word" to other people. (Chart 1) Several factors are crucial in establishing a brand for a corporate or product name, and it takes time to achieve. Progress toward branding is based on a consistent, logical plan that is derived from a company making a complete and comprehensive effort to establish a brand.

At TK, we started the branding project in October of last year and are currently holding meetings with Gramco Ltd. project team and are in the process of developing the strategic plan. We have completed a brand model (Chart 2) and are moving forward with brand visualization. By next month's Notables, this process should be complete and will be officially announced.

Because the first impression is the most important, the corporate logo or mark is very important in conveying the corporate image. In Mr. Yamada's own words, "Brand is the combination of humanity and truth," and must leave a lasting impression. I hope you will read the surprising results of next month's Notables.

Brand Model
Item Keyword
Functional value Delivery of quality solutions and technological excellence related to the mixing and transporting of fluid material.
Emotional value Forging new business frontiers ; products and services characterized by safety, reliability, wonderment, and amazement
Personality Faithful business partner with a robust spirit for inquiry
Strategic customer People with business opportunities, ideas and challenges in blending
Message Blending Science into Innovation.
Positioning A corporation that meets the mixing and blending needs of various industries
Brand vision Toward PRIME ; to the future of mixing

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