Why do so many Japanese brands have letter-based logos? Part 1
In my research on logo design, I noticed that most of the logos of major Japanese companies are text-based. Rather, several prominent foreign brands are redesigning their logos to make them more symbolic or iconic.
Globally, Digital Transformation (DX) is being applied to logos
One of the main reasons for this is that as digital services become more and more popular, the scenes where logos are used are shifting to the screens of devices, mainly smartphones and computers, rather than on paper media.
Or, conversely, in many cases, startups such as Twitter and Slack are becoming more recognizable with just an icon rather than a full-scale logo that includes a company name.
Brand Logo Trends by Country [US, Japan, China]
As we proceeded with our research, we found that brand logos are characterized by different countries. Japanese company logos are particularly distinctive compared to those of American and Chinese companies.
Let’s take a look at some typical corporate logos from each country.
Brand logos of typical American companies
The logos of many companies have been redesigned as times have changed, and many of them are now using a symbol as the way to recognize them.
Starbucks, Nike, and Apple have all removed letters from their logos, which originally consisted of both symbols and letters.
One of the reasons for the focus on symbols is that many companies are targeting the global market from the beginning and taking into account users who cannot read the language.
Brand logos of typical Japanese companies
Next, let’s take a look at the logos of typical Japanese companies. Most of the logos consist of text only, and the colors used are mostly red, blue, and black.
As for the font used, we can see that Helvetica is used in many cases, as typified by Panasonic, Hitachi, and Toshiba.
The possible reasons for the large number of text-based logos are that these are traditional companies that have been in business for a long time, have a strong concept of good old-fashioned Corporate Identity, and have not done much redesigning of their logos in general.
In addition, many companies with analog products have not yet shifted their brands to digital.
Brand logo of a typical Chinese company
Another interesting perspective is the use of mascot characters with animal motifs in many of the logos of Chinese companies.
In many cases, it is portrayed with an animal character plus the company name, and the characters are in Chinese.
The reasons for the adoption of this style may include the fact that many companies are new, the emphasis is on familiarity, the focus is on digital services, and the main target is domestic demand.
Different logo styles in different countries
Every company will be “appified” in the future
As you can see, the style of the brand logos differ depending on the “country of origin” of each company. As branding itself is the embodiment of a company’s vision and story, many companies are redesigning their logos to match the times.
Many companies in Japan are also promoting Digital Transformation (DX), and in the future, regardless of product or service, companies will most likely also be considered technology companies.
In an extreme case, we may see that all companies will “appify” themselves to users.
In other words, many conventional companies, who have been considered as being in “non-tech” industries are moving fast to be tech companies by providing digital services.
As a result, they will eventually become “apps” for their customers. This is another reason technology companies have shifted their logos to be more like app icons while still many Japanese traditional companies use their old style text-based logos.
When rebranding, it is important to take these changes into account.
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