Hakuhodo: Shaping the future with creativity

Jul. 1, 2019
  • Viewpoints

In an expression of its determination to change meaningfully, Hakuhodo adopted a new visual identity on July 1. How will the company change and what value does it intend to provide in the years to come? President and CEO Masayuki Mizushima explains.

Hakuhodo has revamped its visual identity

MIZUSHIMA:
In an age of significant change in society, Hakuhodo is expressing its determination to change significantly, too. Dramatic advances in technology are accelerating the digitalization of and use of IoT in society. Ultimately, this will lead to the digitalization of life itself. All kinds of touchpoints, including home appliances, cars and homes, will connect interactively with sei-katsu-sha, transforming them into interfaces for services. And all these interfaces will connect with each other, making connectivity without limit a reality. New social structures are set to appear as the boundaries between industries become blurred. At Hakuhodo, we call this the “Sei-katsu-sha Interface Market,” and we have already begun to uncover insights into it.

What role should Hakuhodo play in this new market and society? What kind of value should we provide? The answer to both these questions can only be creativity.

I am absolutely convinced that creativity is our biggest strength, and the value that others will most look to us for in the years to come. Hakuhodo, henceforth, will go beyond advertising to become a company that provides new value that contributes to the innovation of lifestyles, society and business structures with creativity. We radically changed our visual identity (VI) to convey internally and externally our decision and determination to change the value that we provide.

The symbol of the new VI is “The Central Dot.” These dots represent Hakuhodo’s roles going forward. They are starting points and connection points. They depict our employees as the start of something, moving and taking on challenges independently, and Hakuhodo creating new value for society as it links to various social issues and topics for the future, acting as a hub that connects various players.

What is Hakuhodo’s creativity?

MIZUSHIMA:
Hakuhodo will mark 125 years since its founding this October. Throughout our long history, we have always valued “the eclectic over the generic.” Rather than bringing together people with similar ideas, we esteem people with ideas as different from our own as possible. This heterogeneousness is a policy we use when recruiting and training our people. We have put in place an environment where each employee can give full play to their unique individuality. Translated into today’s language, you could call this diversity.

Hakuhodo is home to a remarkably broad range of creativity, including, language, visual, video, promotion, business development, data analytics, architecture, media art, products, service design, movies, animation, events, to name just a few. Organizations such as ours are rare anywhere in the world.

Another thing we value is the power of teams. At Hakuhodo, we do not just hone the individuality of each of our people, we have a culture of playing them off against each another in a team environment to raise them even higher. These human and cultural assets are not easily replicated.

This gathering of eclectic personalities and pitting them against each other enables us to go beyond the obvious to come up with unique solutions. This, in my view, is Hakuhodo’s creativity.

What do you mean by unique solutions?

MIZUSHIMA:
Think of them as the antithesis of “correct” solutions. In this age of dramatic change, the challenges that can be solved just with “correct” solutions that come out of logical and obvious thinking are becoming fewer and fewer.

Our clients, too, are asking new questions. Questions like, for instance: “What future services can we create with our new technology?” Analyzing the past and thinking logically just leads to everyone coming up with the same solutions. That’s why, at Hakuhodo, we want to come up with previously unknown solutions that surprise and go beyond our clients’ expectations. These are what we call unique solutions. If probing an issue with just logic delivers one “correct” solution, unique solutions that come from pursuing the issue with creativity contain infinite possibilities.

Still, Hakuhodo’s image as an advertising agency is deeply rooted. How do you plan to update the company?

MIZUSHIMA:
In actual fact, we have expanded our business domains quite significantly in recent years, but I am aware that we are still perceived externally as an advertising agency. We need to more broadly convey what Hakuhodo can do outside of advertising and become a sought-out presence in those domains.

One of the major topics of our internal reform is the concept “From idea generation to idea implementation.” This sees Hakuhodo’s role not simply as coming up with intriguing ideas, but taking responsibility for them all the way through to their implementation in society. We are increasing the number of producers and technologists in our ranks and continuously delivering the message that all Hakuhodo personnel need to focus not only on their own work, but think about how to create new markets with the mind of an entrepreneur.

One of our challenges is to create new businesses as actors ourselves. Expanding on our experience in supporting our clients’ innovation, we aim to generate new businesses by connecting various companies across industries and business formats. The organization at the center of this drive has already produced several seedlings of unique solutions.

Looking to the future, what are you passionate about?

MIZUSHIMA:
Hakuhodo is serious about transforming itself. Every time I see the new VI, I want to return to this resolution. We will strive to offer society unique solutions, not just in Japan, but around the world.

But no matter how much we change we are who we are thanks to our partners and that remains unchanged. Partnership is our philosophy and will remain the cornerstone of our business for years to come. We have a greater sense of urgency than ever before about becoming a company that is trusted and relied upon alike by clients we’ve worked with for years and new partners we’ve just met.

Through the creativity of each of our personnel, we will link to various issues in society and take action tirelessly to become a presence that provides new value to sei-katsu-sha and society and shapes the future. This is the kind of collective, I believe, that Hakuhodo hopes to become in the future. As President, I intend to lead the way.

Masayuki Mizushima
President & CEO, Hakuhodo Inc.
Masayuki Mizushima joined Hakuhodo in 1982. After stints as General Manager of Account Service Division 6 and as Director and Senior Corporate Officer, he was appointed President and CEO in April 2017. He has held a concurrent position as President & CEO of Hakuhodo DY Holdings Inc. since June 2019.

 

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