Discussing thoughts on the Brand Statement: A special interview with President Yamaoka and Kashiwa Sato
“A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE”
With sights set on the next 100 years, Yanmar announces a new Brand Statement. In an age where the global economy, our environment and our livelihoods are in a state of flux and sudden change, the realization of sustainable prosperity for all, a sustainable natural environment, harmony between people and nature, and a sustainable society is something that we are all hoping for. On the other hand, this is also an age which has very diversified ways of thinking. The ideals placed on the type of society we strive for, and the proposals aimed at realizing such a society are widely varied.
At Y media we will talk about the actions Yanmar is taking towards achieving Yanmar’s vision of A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE. This time, we bring you a public one-on-one talk between Yanmar’s President Takehito Yamaoka and Yanmar’s Executive Producer of Strategic Branding and Creative Director Kashiwa Sato from Samurai.
Sustainable prosperity for all and a sustainable natural environment
The sub-text to “A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE” talks about creating new value in society through technology. With the two creators of Yanmar’s Brand Statement here today, it is only due that we first ask them about this concept of “Creating new value in society through technology.”
–In regards to “A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE” as the future that you are aspiring towards, what kind of future is it exactly that you are envisioning?
Kashiwa Sato The word sustainability is typically associated with just the environment. However, we see it as being about lifting up the natural environment, while at the same time ensuring human prosperity. Hearing this initially from discussions with President Yamaoka is what set the direction for the way things have evolved.
President Yamaoka In the words of Yanmar’s founder, Magokichi Yamaoka, “To conserve fuel is to serve mankind.” While these words stem from the idea of improving the lives of farmers by leveraging an engine’s capabilities to reduce farmers’ workloads, this approach of leveraging minimal energy resources to enrich society is also closely linked to our current Brand Statement. If we unravel and read further into this, the message to us, is not just about conserving energy but there is also a strong emphasis on making our lives easier and towards achieving sustainable prosperity, thereby putting something back into the community we live in. That is what Kashiwa Sato has summed up in the slogan.
Kashiwa Sato And that’s why this concept of creating new value holds so much weight. Let’s have a think about what it means to create new value. “Value” is a concept that differs depending on the person, the country and the generation. At Yanmar, by leveraging technology to deliver solutions, we are assessing ways that we can further create value for people in the future.
achieving sustainable prosperity is the biggest task remaining for humanity,
And it’s fair to say that achieving sustainable prosperity is the biggest task remaining for the humanity. When talking with President Yamaoka, we discussed whether humanity needs to take losses in order to conserve the environment. When we think about the environment, there is a common tendency to neglect the human element. With our current vision, we have taken a fresh look at how we can progress forward into the next 100 years.
–Not neglecting the environment, but instead aiming for sustainable prosperity.
Kashiwa Sato Exactly.
President Yamaoka Thinking it’s okay to consume large amounts of our planets natural resources, is a thing of the past. With economic growth, there comes the issue of environmental pollution and a world with food that is saturated with chemicals. With limited natural resources, how do we go about using technology to achieve sustainable prosperity? In thinking about our approach, our Brand Statement and our founding vision of “To conserve fuel is to serve mankind” are well aligned.
–Yanmar’s Brand Statement encompasses its social consciousness towards current issues, right?
Kashiwa Sato Being our 100th anniversary, 2012 marked the beginning of the next 100 years for Yanmar together with the commencement of our Premium Brand Project. As we enter the fourth year since we set out to redefine our corporate visual identity; establishing the FLYING-Y BUILDING, announcing our YF2112 vision, and refining our aspirations for the future, now is the time for us to put to the world our concrete visions and plans for the future.
Technology is solution-based, yet solutions are more than just technology
Technology is another keyword addressed in the subtext to the Brand Statement. When talking about technology, for Yanmar, what is the role of technology in “creating new value”?
–While the perceived value of prosperity and the social environment is always changing, Yanmar’s commitment to creating solutions through technology remains unchanged since its founding 100 years ago.
President Yamaoka Our way of thinking about technology is changing. Back when “To conserve fuel is to serve mankind,” was devised ‘technology’ referred to fuel-injection engine technology. Nowadays, with environmental regulations for engine-equipped machinery becoming ever more stringent, going about things the same way has its limits. Yanmar must embrace such changes and continue forward.
Yanmar’s business scope isn’t just limited to engines, as it includes robotics, agricultural know-how and energy systems with enhanced efficiency. In addition to exciting products such as our pleasure boats. Technology, as we know it today, will not necessarily be the same tomorrow.
Kashiwa Sato It continues to evolve. Yanmar is typically viewed as a manufacturer of tractors, construction equipment, and other products; however it is better put to say that Yanmar is utilizing technology to provide solutions to the agricultural and construction industries. We’re not just making products. Furthermore, while we focus on providing solutions for society through technology utilization, technology alone won’t get us there.
–Yanmar’s undertakings are not limited to product-based business operations in industries such as farming and marine, but also include fostering the next generation and cultural initiatives.
President Yamaoka “Grateful to serve for a better world” is another slogan devised by our founder. Yanmar’s philosophy of — gratitude makes the world a more beautiful place – was the driving force that led to our investments in nurturing people’s talents with the Yamaoka Scholarship Foundation established in 1950, a foundation which has continued to operate for over the last 65 years. Sports have been an integral part of Yanmar’s cultural initiatives. Yanmar’s connection with Cerezo Osaka stems from its initial goal of leveraging that interaction that transpires on the soccer field as a means to bring employees closer together and further deepen their relationships, thereby improving each employee’s welfare. And this was done on a global scale. The scope continued to expand, and with the addition of famed players, Kunishige Kamamoto and Daishiro (Nelson) Yoshimura, the team soon gained status as a strong soccer team in Japan.
Currently, while offering agricultural solutions to farming communities in South-East Asia, Yanmar works with a student-run volunteer group at the University of Indonesia to establish soccer schools for children from impoverished families, in addition to providing turf maintenance for the fields of the national soccer team in Vietnam. Contributing to society is one of the reasons for our company’s existence
–After hearing what you both have to say it becomes obvious why Yanmar has four major aspirations for society. Those four aspirations being: An energy-saving society, a society where people can work and live with peace of mind, a society where people can enjoy safe and plentiful food, and a society that offers an exciting life filled with rich and fulfilling experiences. To succeed with these four aspirations, it will require effective solutions that aren’t purely limited to technological innovation.
Kashiwa Sato That’s for sure. And it’s not really just about conserving fuel to serve mankind but also about being “grateful to serve for a better world.” The environment and the age we live in today is quite different from that of 100 years ago, however the founder’s spirit back then was still essentially about delivering solutions towards realizing prosperity. It’s for that reason that we are reassessing what it is that we need to do to achieve Yanmar’s vision — and our revised Brand Statement is just the first step in achieving our goals.
Moving ahead with Yanmar’s Brand Statement and aspirations for the future
Sustainable prosperity – for the benefit of the environment and for the benefit of society as well. Leveraging technology to deliver a wealth of solutions. The fundamentals of Yanmar’s Brand Statement are clear. Finally, I hear that you are looking forward to finding out what impact Yanmar’s message will have.
–What do you hope the world will look like in a hundred years’ time?
President Yamaoka Within our fields, we are continuously working on how to advance agricultural and construction machinery robotics, electronic control units (ECUs), and technology that makes work easier and more productive for our customers. Farmers will be able to utilize our advancements in augmented reality (AR) technology to create high quality pesticide-free vegetables. Hopefully Yanmar’s AR technology will enable people to be more creative.
–Is research and development progressing?
President Yamaoka Yes, it is. We are intensifying our collaborative efforts with research institutes and universities. One example is our joint robotics research we are doing in collaboration with Florence University in Italy.
Kashiwa Sato I don’t think there are too many people out there who are at odds with the concept behind “A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE”. Because we have expressed that technology is central to what we are doing, other enterprises are coming up to us and asking if they can also be a part of it. Those sorts of things are crucial.
–I guess you’re right; Yanmar’s solutions alone cannot achieve everything.
Kashiwa Sato If we talk about the society we are aspiring towards as one that just makes tractors or boats, then our message would be received in a very different manner. By making a genuine pledge to society it will encourage third-parties to collaborate with us. As a result, new technologies will be created, new business domains will come into existence, and our operations as a whole will hopefully develop in the direction we are aiming for.
President Yamaoka We hope to inspire our customers to create imaginative and ambitious proposals. If we simply stock our own products such as tractors and combines, then there’s a limit to what we can do. It’s not just about detailing specs in catalogs, but also about showing customers the technology we have such as AR. By understanding what our customers want, we can make the right products for them.
As we get people to understand our Brand Statement we hope it leads to collaboration with corporations and organizations.
–So releasing a corporate Brand Statement has this kind of effect then.
Kashiwa Sato It does. When asking what’s important about branding, it’s not so much about what you are making, but if others don’t understand the purpose behind what you are doing then it won’t lead to collaborative opportunities.
–How do you want people to receive the Brand Statement within the company itself?
President Yamaoka That is the most important thing. If our message is well understood by everyone then proposals and ideas will emerge from within the company. We want people to know what it is that they are working for and to be stimulated and excited by that.
By laying out clearly what we want to achieve with the Brand Statement, people outside of the company will have a better understanding of it. Moreover, the aim is that when Yanmar staff actually meet our customers in person, they too will be able to pass the message on directly to our customers.
Kashiwa Sato My input this time round was really about saying what Yanmar has been working on over the years and the ideas that Yanmar has in a way that’s more suitable for the world that we live in now. And for that reason, it all starts from here. Initially, it started out with the words of President Yamaoka. From here on in, if each employee understands the Brand Statement well, and has a sense of pride when talking about it, then that is branding at its best. With our intentions clear, we will be able to take out the work that doesn’t help us get where we want to go and maximize our capabilities. We are progressing as a team, and as such the Brand Statement sets the pace and rhythm for us to move forward together.
Looking back on the words of Yanmar’s founder, we can see more clearly what we have to do now.
“A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE” as a Brand Statement, takes and redefines Yanmar’s ideals and efforts over the past 100 years, and sets the direction for the next 100 years to come.
How each business operation will put it into practice is something to look forward to. With this article as the starting point Y MEDIA will continue to explore creative ways to provide valuable information about Yanmar’s ongoing activities.