At first, Mr. Kashiwa Sato was not comfortable to accept their invitation because of the lesser-than-enough budget accomplishing a real branding project. What did Mr. Toyama do to convince Mr. Sato?
Mr. Tatsuki Toyama had done nothing but told Mr. Sato to reconsider along with samples of terry towels made by factories in Imabari left behind. In fact, we always say an excellent product speaks for itself. It does. The comfort of these towels are so specular that even 40-something Sato, at that time, had never used such a soft towel before after shower that night. Next day, Mr. Sato called back Mr. Toyama to arrange a visit to Imabari. This is his usual practice before accepting a project to know thoroughly in person.
That is how this amazing branding project started!
Before Shikoku Towel Industrial Cooperative Association (STICA) approaching Mr. Toyama or Mr. Sato, they have already consolidate basic requirement of the Association’s membership. Their request is absolutely above the usual standard of quality assurance that makes Imabari Towel excelled others globally. To list a few:
- water absorbency: 5-seconds “soak and sink” standard, before any wash and after a third wash of the same towel (“Soak and sink”: a very tiny piece of specimen is cut out from a sampling towel and is dropped to a tank of water. The time needed to sink to the bottom is measured), when compared to industrial standard of “soak and sink” within 60 seconds;
- thread long rate;
- pile tear resistance;
- dye resistance to light;
- laundry test;
- friction test when dry and damp condition;
- and so on.
Only when all the requirements are fulfilled, the product can be claimed a product of Imabari, otherwise fine will be applied depending on the seriousness of the issue.
Beside comfort, The second edge of STICA’s factory is that many of them have developed their craftsmanship of weaving pattern techniques in order to create infinite variety of aesthetic towels in multiple colours or even single colour. No matter the technique of Jacquard weaving or embroidery or sewing, STICA’s manufacturer can accomplish how sophisticated the print is.
“Towel is strange commodity. Neither has it a unity, nor an attribute that reflecting owner’s fondness or preference. No matter what, you would just use it or else. Well, you won’t feel its commoditization of this commodity.” – Kashiwa Sato (translated from a Chinese story: https://kknews.cc/zh-hk/news/gvgabe.html)
Mr. Kashiwa Sato began to build the brand. He began with the naming and design the identity of their brand. To dig into their brand values, he took an extensive briefing session and an interview with STICA. After weeks of works, he summarised their brand value: “Peace of Mind”, “Safety” and “High Quality”. Then he started some design works to consolidated his thought and philosophy.
Kashiwa Sato’s philosophy of branding ::
Fundamental Brand Values X Strategic Image Control = Branding
To have wholesome of financial power and marketing force, Imabari Towel Industrial Association (ITIA) has been set up to manage the specific brand, and has to work a unified brand along with separated individual brand. Mr. Sato thought that the merchandises of ITIA should have a unified endorsement of products by manufacturers of Imabari-shi. A tag label is attached to merchandises by Imabari. He finally proposed to use “Imabari Towel, Japan” because of the ease of pronunciation locally and globally. A brand mark has been designed incorporating every ITIA’s brand values
The brand mark is a “red”, “blue” and “white” rectangular mark which represents the rich nature of Imabari-shi – “Sun”, “Sea”, “Sky” and “Water”. The top portion is a “red” square and “white’ circle. It of course symbolises products of Japan and the passion and innovation of Imabari Towel. The bottom portion is three “blue” horizontal stripes having same thickness with “white” space equally. It is the richness of water source of Imabari-shi. “Blue” means high reliability and quality of Imabari Towel; whilst “white” is its pureness and serenity. After all, the two portions construct an “i”, prefix of “Imabari.”
Brand Values of Imabari Towel, Japan ::
“Peace of Mind”, “Safety” and “High Quality”
Brand Essence of Imabari Towel, Japan ::
“Sun”, “Sea”, “Sky” and “Water”
Brand Identity of Colour of Imabari Towel, Japan ::
“Red”, “Blue” and “White”
The brand mark has been developed and accomplished in 3 months, though it seems like a 3 days’ work. Mr. Sato thought the mark has to be sustained for a very long time and does not fade in time. The brand mark of Imabari Towel was ultimately announced in a press conference in 15 February 2007.
- Part 1: Competitive Edge over Low Pricing Towels, 15/4/2017
- Part 2: From Fundamental Brand Values to Identities, 22/4/2017
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5
- Part 6