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Standing out in Tokyo

June 2015

By Adam Kennedy, Tokyo

In today’s cluttered market, brands need to be relentless in the pursuit of unique and meaningful ways to engage and add true value to their audience. This need is amplified in Tokyo as Japanese consumers are particularly discerning and crave value far beyond traditional branding activities. One way brands are trying to achieve this is through relevant collaborations and the co-creation of value.

Similarly to Japanese millennial consumers, I seek brands out of the mainstream that are progressive and offer something that I feel is exclusive to me. Design T-shirts Store graniph (graniph) offers this and is one brand that connects with me. The brand burst onto the scene in 2001 in Shimokitazawa (Tokyo’s trendsetting neighborhood) and it has been promising t-shirt individuality ever since. The brand boasts an ever-changing collection of styles and designs achieved through its unique collaborative creation process with artists and musicians. Depending on the time of the year, graniph pumps out 100-150 designs a month, and to further reinforce individuality the t-shirts are only available on a super limited edition basis. This means no two shopping experiences are ever the same and once I have found the t-shirt expression for me, it is very unlikely I am going to bump into someone wearing the same thing.

Airbnb is another brand that really speaks to me. I have always been a bit of a nomad consciously trying to avoid convention, so the brands promise of “Belong Anywhere” and its offer of quirky travel and accommodation experiences resonate deeply with me. One such Airbnb listing in Tokyo is Caravan Tokyo, which gives its guests a rare perspective right in the heart of the luxury shopping district Omotesando. I am also big on sharing and respect the fact Airbnb takes a genuine role in promoting this alternative economy and encourages co-creation of value between its hosts and guests. I regularly welcome people to Tokyo and give them all the local knowledge I can to enhance their experience, so it is great to see a brand trying to foster similar behavior. Airbnb is more than just a brand, it is a community platform that cuts through cultures and backgrounds to connect people in a meaningful way.

How a brand personally connects with an individual is obviously subjective, but it is more likely to achieve its goals if it can show a deep understanding of its audience and add value in thoughtful and innovative ways. I regularly look to my friends for independent recommendations and advice that I can trust, and I discovered both graniph and Airbnb through word of mouth. Initially it was graniph’s creative approach to t-shirt design and gallery-styled retail space that attracted me. Airbnb on the other hand, has managed to become a part of my friends travelling experiences so it plays a key role in the stories that they share. So if successful in this approach, brands can also leverage WOM as a credible and influential communication channel. For me, brands that can collaborate and co-create in ways that are aligned to my own values and lifestyle, stand out, perfectly fulfill my needs and gain my advocacy.  

 

 

Retail & Dining
Design & Luxury
Green
Fashion & Style
Tokyo
graniph's gallery-styled retail space
graniph's clean bold storefront
Unique Airbnb accomodation in central Tokyo

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