Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
@hmikitani_e
Photo: Fans walk with soccer legend Thierry Henry after forming the world's largest FC Barcelona Jersey on July 22, 2017 in New York City to celebrate the kick-off of the team's US Tour.

I was in New York City in July and was delighted to see people from all walks of life wearing FC Barcelona shirts bearing the Rakuten brand. With the launch of our partnership with the legendary European football club, awareness of our brand is growing in all corners of the planet – and not just among consumers. Business leaders are noticing too.

That same month, I attended the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. This was my seventh trip to the invitation-only event, which brings together leaders from the tech and investment community. As always, I enjoyed many fruitful encounters and discussions, but I was also very pleasantly surprised by the number of people who approached me for the first time and were interested in partnering with Rakuten. And this interest spanned diverse sectors, from tech to manufacturing and retail. Each person had their own distinct reasons, of course, but I sensed that many of them were prompted by our global branding efforts and the FC Barcelona partnership.

The fundamentals of our business are the same as they were before the group-wide global brand unification effort we’ve launched this year, and before our partnership with a world-renowned football club. But now, we have unified our voice, and that is already giving us more visibility in global circles, including the people I met this year at Sun Valley. Potential partners are talking with us because our brand has begun to convey our true breadth and depth.

Companies will launch brand campaigns to help connect with their customers – and that of course, is paramount. But the events of this year have been a powerful reminder to me that this change in our global brand can resonate with companies and organizations that we may never even have envisioned having a connection with, and that can lead to all sorts of great new possibilities.