Identity Design
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Identity Design

Yanmar Rebranding by Kashiwa Sato

Identity design case studies in Japan #1

As a Japanese Identity designer, I’d like to share some case studies in Japan.

Founded in 1912, Yanmar Co., Ltd. is a Japanese diesel engine manufacturer which manufactures and sells engines used in a wide range of applications, including seagoing vessels, pleasure boats, construction equipment, agricultural equipment and generator sets. It also manufactures and sells agricultural equipment, construction equipment, climate control systems, aquafarming systems. In 2013, to mark the 100th anniversary of the company, Kashiwa Sato designed new identity of Yanmar.

Kashiwa Sato produced a re-branding project to mark the 100th anniversary of Yanmar, a company that covers a variety of fields such as engineering, agriculture, construction, marine engineering and global energy. Kashiwa visualized Yanmar’s vision of becoming a global technology company, and initiated the “Premium Brand Project” to show the future course of Yanmar’s corporate initiatives. Kashiwa designed Yanmar’s corporate logo and created their communication strategy. Kashiwa also teamed with top creators to create tractor prototypes and new agricultural wear as icons to embody Yanmar’s vision. He established a consistent brand image, uniting all communication activities such as supervising the design of the new office building to indicate Yanmar’s concept of the future. The brand image of Yanmar differed between domestic and overseas; in Japan, it was well known for its tractors and corporate cartoon boy characters Yanboh and Marboh. Overseas, Yanmar was a popular brand in the yacht and marine industries. Based on this fact, Kashiwa started the project by shifting the many activities of Yanmar to the two main perspectives of ‘food production’ and ‘energy transformation’ to focus on one corporate mission, which was to pursue a sustainable, recycling-oriented society. Kashiwa designed the ‘Flying Y’ logo, derived from Oni-Yanma, which inspired the company name and means “dragonfly” in Japanese. And he persuasively expressed Yanmar’s future vision through presentations at press and dealer events featuring new tractor and designs by Ken Okuyama and new agricultural and marine wear created by Naoki Takizawa. Kashiwa also supervised and directed Yanmar’s new office building called ‘YANMAR FLYING-Y BUILDING’ in Umeda, Osaka, completed in 2014. He positioned the building itself as a concept model aiming for zero emissions by employing state-of-the-art environmental technologies. The idea of Premium Marche, Yanmar’s food event linking food producers and consumers, was also passed on to the employee cafeteria in the building. Kashiwa positioned the YANMAR FLYING-Y BUILDING as communication media to continuously deliver the message of Yanmar’s mission of ‘A Sustainable Future.’

Kashiwa Sato project page

The old logo, tilted stylized Y with gray shade, was horrible and lacking credibility as a leading company in the field. And the problem is, for Japanese, speaking of Yanmar, we think their corporate cartoon boy characters Yanboh and Marboh(below) who give a TV program of whether forecast for farmers. So, there were many identities for a company. That was a problem.

Yanboh and Marboh
Oni-Yanma (left) and “Flying Y” logo

The new logo mark is quite simple and representative because the company name “Yanmar” comes from “Oni-Yanma”, the largest species of dragonfly in Japan, which is a symbol of good harvest in Japanese culture. And also, you can’t miss the “Y” in negative space.

New concept tractor by Ken Okuyama(above), and new agriculture and marine wears by Naoki Takizawa(below) are both futuristic and nice.

Agricultural wear
Marine wear

Overall, I love this re-branding project specially the new identity “Flying Y”, there is a small mismatch with the rounded and tilted logotype though.

See more at
Kashiwa Sato project page
Ken Okuyama project page
Naoki Takizawa project page

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Akihiro Takeuchi

Akihiro Takeuchi

Identity designer for people makes positive impacts.