The Art of Localising Brands to Japan

Localisation is the process of turning brand communications, like TV ads, websites etc, from their original language and culture into something that works in another market, language and culture. In this post I am going to categorize 3  or 4 archetypal approaches to doing this and use well-known brands to illustrate. Hopefully anyone working in this space or interested in brands - or just global culture in general - can take something from it. I have seen this process from both sides, initially while working in the UK office of a big international agency, where we were the hub, creating and “distributing” campaigns to other markets. But ever since arriving in Japan I have mainly been "on the receiving end" as it were, and it is exacerbated by the fact that Japan really is a … [Read more...]

How good is Japanese customer service, and how bad can it get?

Japan has, I believe, a good image for customer service and I have certainly had numerous conversations over the years with foreigners visiting Japan who have been blown away by the attention to detail, courtesy as well as genuine human kindness. Some of the traditions that set Japan apart are things like beautiful and meticulous gift wrapping in retail stores, similarly delicate presentation of food in restaurants, cleanliness in general,  things running on time, and on a higher level safety and reliability. At the same time I have heard many anecdotes, mostly from foreign residents in Japan, but also sometimes from visitors, telling of mind bogglingly annoying treatment. What’s going on here? Is this another one of Japan’s “contradictions”? Japanese cultural stereotypes This … [Read more...]

A blog about nurturing hybrid culture

Image: A broccoli x cauliflower hybrid sold in Japan  Welcome to my new blog! Why now? I have been writing pretty regularly over the years, some of which has been going up on line, but most of it never gets out of my Evernotes. I have been feeling a mounting inner pressure recently to get more of it out in the open to start some dialogues and share ideas with others. One excuse I was using to not get a blog going with regular updates was the fact someone else owned, so once I got hold of this domain I had no excuse to not get it together. I have also been piecing together the knowledge required to set up and run a blog like this one from scratch so I can be totally self sufficient. I have been frustrated by not being in control of my own publishing before and so … [Read more...]