Kodansha, Japan’s Biggest Publisher, Unveils First United Brand Identity in 112 years

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After 112 years, Japan’s largest publisher, responsible for works such as AKIRA and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Kodansha launched its new global rebrand thanks to Gretel, the New York-based design studio. The branding studio has worked with clients from Vice to Netflix, so they’re seasoned pros when it comes to creating globally recognized branding systems.

The new identity intends to make more informed and significant associations between the brand and the content it generates; when the brand is viewed not just as a publisher but also as an international media brand will continue to leverage growth exponentially.

Throughout the new branding system, you’ll find multiple colors from reds to blues to pinks to turquoise that is all balanced through a consistent Sans-serif font and linear logomark. The system is used across various assets, including a brand video (directed by Juan Cabral), booklets, bags, t-shirts, and the list continues infinitely. The logomark is strong enough to be used across all new branding extensions, proving how robust the system is. Overall, the branding is sleek and contemporary, which helps modernize the brand and maintain its continuous forward growth.

Personal seals inspired much of the new logo, helping to transcend cultural and language barriers, an absolute necessity for foreigh publisher looking to expand their reach. “The brand logo represents Kodansha’s position at the crossroad of all cultures—where many ideas, voices and stories intersect,” said Sue Murphy, Gretel creative director, in a press release. “It’s also inspired by Japanese hankos, acting as a stamp of quality on Kodansha content, as well as a monogram.”

“With this new brand, we’ve achieved both simplicity and depth – and triggered a change in mindset for Kodansha, externally and internally,” said Yoshinobu Noma, Kodansha CEO, in the same press release. “Our new identity and strategy allow us to communicate who we are on a global scale, and give us the tools to fill the world with inspiring, impossible stories.”

“We’re proud to unveil a new brand for Kodansha that is, like the company itself, both edifying and entertaining,” added Greg Hahn, founder and principal at Gretel, in the same press release. “Our collaboration has successfully captured the heart of Kodansha, in a way that will resonate with audiences around the globe, and I believe it’s going to be really impactful for Kodansha and its footprint on the world.”

After 112 years, it seems risky to take the leap to rebrand, but Kodansha has flawlessly executed the daunting task. Kudos to Kodansha.