Hiro is Chief Designer in the Creative Design Strategy Department at Rakuten Design Lab
Our Mission at Rakuten Design Lab is to enhance Rakuten’s brand value through design. First and foremost, by managing the design of products and materials that use Rakuten’s logo, we focus primarily on design and creative work which is important for building Rakuten’s brand value. I have been in charge of designing the uniforms of FC Barcelona, the soccer team which wears Rakuten’s logo, as well as creating the logo for the Rakuten Open tennis tournament and working as the art director for event booths. By deploying Rakuten’s designs in media with global exposure, we are working to improve brand value and overseas recognition.
Rakuten Design Lab is a cross-group organization led by Chief Creative Director Kashiwa Sato, with one manager and five designers. I am in charge of the creative field and work with the marketing staff of various business units and the sports sponsorship division. Kashiwa Sato and the Lab’s designers prototype all designs on a one-to-one scale of the product in question to help us understand how people engage with the product when they’re actually using it. This, in turn, lets us thoroughly verify whether there is room for improvement in our designs.
Kashiwa Sato is often asked to make important branding decisions along with the management staff, which means he needs us to create logical and simple presentation materials for managers who aren’t design specialists, so that they can grasp the content in a split second and make effective decisions. At Rakuten, the way that the top-level creators work allows you to really go after the essence of design.
About Skill Development
In my daily work, I am always thinking about what it is that makes Rakuten’s design sense unique. This allows me provide speedy art direction for my colleagues who are doing the non-artistic work. Currently, Rakuten has set seven corporate colors for each category of its business. While listening to the requests from each of these categories about the shades and colors that they feel best represent their work, we adjusted the color scheme so that it would represent the entire company in a balanced way.
The details of such work aside, I believe that the accumulation of that sort of effort will lead to the most genuine and effective expression of Rakuten’s spirit. In addition, because Rakuten emphasizes working with a sense of speed, I have been able to improve the speed of my design production. From receiving a request to submitting my deliverables, I can complete and release my work to the world in a timeframe that is so short, it would be unthinkable in any other environment.
Building a Career
We hope that Rakuten Design Lab will continue to be involved with Rakuten’s various creative projects so that we may increase the depth and efficiency of our communication to the world. Our current goal is to promote the mission of improving Rakuten’s brand value and build a corporate image that will naturally make consumers think, “Rakuten is great.”
In addition, since I personally feel that Rakuten’s social contribution activities should be better communicated to the world, I am currently discussing strategies with people in the Sustainability Department. Since Rakuten’s philosophy of empowerment and sustainability activities are largely in line with each other, I would like to explore ways in which we can enhance the brand’s communication power.
How many projects are you currently working on?
I am working on more than 10 projects simultaneously. Among them, about eight are urgent projects. I always try to respond to everything with a sense of speed.
What is the average duration of a single project?
I am always working on a wide variety of projects, but some can be completed in a week and some take upwards of six months.
What do you do on your days off?
I spend time with my wife or climb mountains in the Kanto area. I also do climbing with ropes and ice climbing in winter.
*The affiliation and contents of the article are based on the contents at the time of the interview.
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