A Case Study

For European or North American standards, Suntory chose an unusual approach to their redesign and search for a new logo. All company employees were asked to formulate in words what they found to be specifically “Suntoryesque”. The second step in their participation was the creation of 1,018 drafts of possible logos. This comprehensive and time-consuming approach also reflected a core value of the Suntory corporate philosophy, expressed in their motto “festina lente” – which may be roughly translated as “act fast slowly”. This saying was penned by the Japanese writer Ken Kaiko and accurately characterizes the Suntory balance between acting fast in a business sense while also preserving traditional company values.

When Akira Kobayashi and Matthew Carter arrived at Suntory in the beginning of December 2003, they were greeted with 1,018 logo suggestions. Their challenge was to reduce this mass of ideas to a short selection of viable logo candidates.

A series of criteria had to be taken into consideration in the selection. On the one hand, the logo had to be legible not only in large formats but also on small labels on bottles or cans. The logo was supposed to be immediately recognizable and innovative, yet not make concessions to short-lived trends or eccentricities, which might make the logo seem outdated in a few years. The logo also had to reflect the many facets of the company’s activities – from high grade spirits, soft drinks and mixed beverages, to restaurants and flowers.

This collaboration with Suntory turned out to be a truly enriching experience for the expert advisory team. Matthew Carter found the work on the development of the logo was analogous with one of the company’s core activities – the distillation of raw materials. In narrowing down the many suggestions, the team came closer and closer to the company’s essence with every refining step which was a challenging and also rewarding process for the team.

more ... Destilling of a new image