Global Thinking Archive
“Started by a woman, in a time when women didn’t start companies.”
These are the powerful first words that introduce the story behind a brand you probably forgot you have in your kitchen right now. Kikkoman is the #1 best selling soy sauce brand worldwide, in a category filled with syrupy competitors that can rarely lay claim to any sort of cultural heritage – much less one than is more than 300 years old.
In an effort to tell that story, a year ago Kikkoman commissioned Academy Award™ Nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker to produce a short documentary film about the heritage and family creed that has inspired Kikkoman since its beginning. The documentary tells the powerful story of Shige Maki, wife of a slain samurai warrior who escaped Osaka to the city of Edo (today’s Tokyo) in the early 1600s.
Settling in the village of Noda with her son, they learned the craft of brewing shoyu – or soy sauce. As author Ronald E. Yates wrote in The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with a Japanese Soul, “behind every bottle of Kikkoman, there’s a Kikko-woman. The remarkable, resourceful, Shige Maki.”
Today the heritage of the company is told through these powerful videos and the modern day translation of their longtime family creed: Make Haste Slowly. In a world that doesn’t seem to do anything slowly anymore, Kikkoman’s approach stands out. Even their marketing strategy is slow and steady. The videos were produced more than a year ago, and still have barely a quarter million views – a low number considering the ubiquity of the brand.
Yet that understated approach may be part of the appeal. Like many others, I discovered the videos through serendipity and now am writing about them thanks to the power of their storytelling. This is the opposite of a Super Bowl ad. We live in a media landscape where big budgets don’t necessarily lead to capturing mass attention, thanks to “advertising blindness.” Fighting back, many marketers have turned to content marketing as a potential solution to capture the attention of overloaded consumers (a topic I have written about the challenges of before).
The theory behind content marketing is simple: provide solutions or utility through content, and the customers will pay attention because you are providing something valuable instead of promotional. Yet the other thing we know about consumer behaviour is that emotional responses to stories can drive powerful behaviours and beliefs. Solving a problem sometimes isn’t as memorable as sharing a powerful story.
And that ultimately may be the most important lesson that Kikkoman’s story and video can teach us. In a world filled with brands desperate to solve problems and brands dedicated to using shock and awe to capture eyeballs … perhaps the only way to really stand out is to quietly tell a great story.
Today I launched ePatient 2015 – 15 Surprising Trends Changing Healthcare, my newest book focused on the future of healthcare. It might seem like an odd project for me to launch – being a marketing guy. This is the unexpected story of why and how I did it (along with my co-author Fard Johnmar), and why the book might be…Read More >>
Choosing not to preserve a 1000 year old Viking ship doesn’t really surprise anyone in Norway. For Americans who are used to their own country putting mere 75 year old documents behind bullet proof glass, though, nothing could be more confusing than the longstanding debate about the fate of the Oseberg ship – a remarkably well preserved 1200 year old…Read More >>
About four years ago I started getting a lot of unsolicited emails from women. My first book, Personality Not Included, had just come out and readers were emailing me with their own stories of how having a personality had made a difference in their own careers. While school often teaches us that we must remove our personality from “professional” communication…Read More >>
Summary: The story of why I decided to start the world’s first true “Concierge Marketing” service for large and mid-size brands. It all started because I knew the one thing I didn’t want to do. About three months ago I left my role at one of the biggest marketing agencies in the world and the only thing I knew for…Read More >>
The books on your shelf say something about you. That’s why most of us have books that we put on our shelves over the past year which we haven’t quite had a chance to read yet – but still display as a declaration of what we believe. As an author, I usually make it fully through at least 30 books…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? Design takes a leading role in the introduction of new products, ideas and campaigns to change the world. For several years, leading companies have started to see design as a competitive advantage, but in the coming year design may hold the solution to the world’s biggest challenges. Partially because the solutions themselves may come through better design,…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? New and old friends change the travel experience by curating where to go, and offering more local authentic experiences. Your friends are the new travel agent and tour guides, as a host of new services online and offline enable any traveler to get recommendations for unique experiences from friends. Beyond recommendations, this is also enabling far more…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? Organizations uncover that one of their greatest assets to inspire loyalty can come from taking people behind the scenes of their brand and history. Every business has someone who is the legend behind the brand – and some are lucky to have that person still working. At large companies, employees can get disconnected from the initial backstory…Read More >>
What’s the Trend? Business leaders, pop culture and ground-breaking new research intersect to prove that our ideal future will be led by women. We can finally put the old debate to rest … men and women are not equal: women are better. In the coming year, a combination of highly successful female role models, pioneering startups and pop culture references…Read More >>