How to say NO to your brand message: lesson from Japan #1

by Andy Kozlov

Brands. I recently came across an article on patterns and brands on Thoght-provoking stuff there.

 As the digital world evolves, the customer’s ability to inform the


brand will outstrip the company’s ability to control it. As a result, the brand is no longer the proprietary tool for the company that founded it but an ongoing negotiation among the founding company, its own workforce, and the customers who have invested in the end product. The added dimension of interface reveals an unparalleled breadth of a brand’s characteristics and gives access that is perpetual and immediate. Therefore, the customer expects the brand to be as responsive and real-time as any medium through which it is accessed, while maintaining consistency no matter how it is experienced.

They give an example of Uniqlo (the Japanese equivalent of H&M). (See For Chornobyl with love: strumming Ukrainian pain in Japan and relieving the one in Japan and On trailers and containers)

The Japanese clothing company Uniqlo’s strategy abandons one centralized idea in favor of placing the customer at the heart of the brand. In effect, Uniqlo has no brand message: Instead of selling a lifestyle to a target market, it creates small, unique projects that become tools for the user. Each new project — Mix Play, Uniqlock, Grid, Jump, March, Wire, UT, UJ, and, more recently, Color Tweet and Sport Tweet — differs from the others as related parts to a whole. The whole from the multiple parts generates a collective pattern of personal expression, much like the personal expression that is achieved through clothing choice. Every forthcoming project is eagerly awaited by the audience: Uniqlock alone received 68 million views across 209 countries.

This piece evoked in me the fun of browsing through the shelves of another Japan-stemming chain, Muji, during my sojourn in Rome. (See I loved someone that didn’t love me) Indeed, it proves to be a Japanese branding trend: to downplay the role of logo as company-imposed brand and instead give the client an opportunity to experiment with the product. The product itself is a brand. And you, as a customer, take part in its re-creation, modification and eventual re-branding. Smart, hey!

You can write to Andy Kozlov on

МУДЖІ and Rome


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