Brand-mark as Anti-bogusness and Endorsement : : Branding of Imabari Towel Japan (Part 3)

In Mr. Kashiwa Sato’s mind, the “Imabari Towel Japan” mark not only functions as an anti-bogusness, it would be an endorsement of high quality to merchandise. Starting from it’s launch in 2007, a set of identity are required to be applied to every qualified towels made by members of ITIA. Since launching, a member, whom a batch of unqualified towels were affixed “Imabari Towel Japan” identity, was requested to withdraw membership.

Some members of ITIA are only OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) ; whilst some launched their own towel brand that sold in outlets. Here are some listed below:

A branded woven label costs 5 JPY (0.05 USD); a branded hangtag 4 JPY (0.04 USD); a branded sticker 3 JPY (0.03 USD). In addition to the mark, a 4-digits code represents specific manufacturer are embroidered on every woven label, such that every merchandises can be traced its genuineness and originality. Only one rule of label placement is to stitch at the certain distance from the individual trademark. A distinctive awareness was assured. In 2009, this restriction of label placement was loosened.

The brand mark has to be registered around the world in order to enforce its endorsing purpose. The registration in Japan and many other places was quite smooth. The registration in China was not. I am sure that this trademark design is not often seen in China. But, there are a lot of objections at their application, and a lot of imitations created after their application. They have to deal one by one. To registration any intellectual property in China, you have to be prepared the hardship. Not until 2015 (you have not misread), the registration of the “Imabari Towel Japan” mark in China is finally completed.

“For branding, in cooperation with the Textile Industrial Technology Center in the production region, we established our own original quality standards which are stricter than existing industry quality standards.” – Mr. Koichiro Hirao (Chief Director, Shikoku Towel Industrial Cooperative Association)

To see the threat of counterfeit, simply search “Imabari Towel” in Alibaba.com. You will find out 7-8 out 10 results are made out side Japan. Counterfeits are made in Pakistan or China. This maybe the only truth. I have not gone into detailed description. They might not have the “Imabari Towel Japan” woven label. They may be simply added “Imabari” in their product title in order to upfront search result. Even that, it is immoral.

Nevertheless, an official brand book was accomplished after most of the problems were settled. This type of characteristic of brand mark is rare. Rather than finishing off once the brand mark was confirmed, Mr. Sato wanted to smooth out usage one by one first. The brand book was completed in 2010, three years after its launch. Now you should see why he was so hesitate when Mr. Tatsuki Toyama approached him for this project.

In all sincerity, Drezier Communications has once accomplished a very similar case. Green Baby Garden, a social enterprise in Hong Kong, approached us to build a DIY project. We built its sustainability by consolidate as a brand and endorsing individual makers with a identity of label. Brank mark was registrated for that purpose too. For details, check into “Green Hands : : Holistic Branding” project posted in our official website.

(To be continued…)

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