Kashiwa Sato Exhibition at the National Museum of Art, Tokyo
Japanese creative director, Kashiwa Sato, is behind the branding/marketing of many Japanese brands that you may know, including UNIQLO, Kirin Beer (Ichiban), Nissin (Cup Noodles), Nissan and Rakuten. The National Art Center in Tokyo is currently holding a Kashiwa Sato Exhibition (through 10, May 2021) to celebrate his prolific work that successfully differentiated brand identities for major Japanese companies. Since many of them are global companies, his work has also helped cement the perception of Japanese contemporary products, many of which are popular for their quality, as well as their packaging, often stylishly minimalist, or quirky and anime-culture influenced.
After studying graphic design at Tama Art University, Kashiwa Sato worked at Hakuhodo, one of Japan’s major marketing companies known for trend-setting creative works for marketing/advertisement. He then started his own company (named Samurai) in 2000. As he is a graphic designer, many of his iconic works are brand logos and other types of visual works. But he doesn’t work on visuals for the sake of creating visuals. As much as he is “obsessed” by organizing/tidying things up, he is also obsessed with organizing what his clients’ companies want to offer, the message being “more is better” to lure as many consumers as they can. But the non-fundamental values that they try to add to products often dilutes the messaging and becomes a distraction. Through his conversations with his clients (who are often top executives), he meticulously strips off non-essential elements from marketing strategies and highlights/emphasizes the very core values in a most effective way. That’s why his visuals catch the attention and leave a long-lasting impression: Sato knows how to use visual presentations to showcase what the brand is all about. Because of his ability to identify strategic focuses, he often ends up assuming extended responsibilities that go beyond marketing, to include strategic planning, product development and even supervising retail store design. Noritaka Ando, President of Nissin Food Products Co. Ltd., who has worked extensively with Sato on various projects, including Cup Noodles marketing, says that Sato is a “strategic adviser” with whom he needs to brainstorm on a regular basis so that his new visions and ideas can take shape and head in the right direction. See below some key works by Sato that demonstrate his ability to elevate creativity to represent the strategic corporate visions.