• Transform magazine
  • May 17, 2021


Japan’s largest publisher unveils first united brand identity in over a century

  • Kodansha Top Banner
  • Kodansha Casestudy Businesscards

For the first time since its founding 112 years ago, Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher has a united brand identity, created by New York City-based design and branding studio Gretel.


With its core business evolving across platforms and market, including Kodansha USA, the subsidiary representing the brand in America, the brand sought to establish a global brand for today’s media, with the ultimate aim of better connecting the company to the vast content offerings it publishes. 

“With this new brand, we’ve achieved both simplicity and depth - and triggered a change in mindset for Kodansha, externally and internally. Our new identity and strategy allow us to communicate who we are on a global scale, and give us the tools to fill the world with inspiring, impossible stories,” says Yoshinobu Noma, CEO of Kodansha.

The new logo underscores the momentous occasion in Kodansha’s history, at the crossroad of all cultures, where different ideas and stories intersect.  It is also inspired by Japanese hankos, which acts as  a monogram.

The fresh identity, strategy and brand architecture culminate in a new global purpose statement: ‘inspire impossible stories.’

“Arriving at that global purpose was an exercise in finding the connective tissue across different kinds of content: magazines, novels, manga and anime. And what connects all of Kodansha's content is the sense of reimaging possibility,” says Daniel Edmundson,executive strategy director, Gretel.


Gretel and Kodansha also worked closely with Japanese entry partner Anchorstar to bridge the cultural divide between Tokyo and New York, particularly throughout Gretel’s in-depth discovery phase - an uncommon procedure for Japanese brands, but one which Noma called “a refreshing surprise.”

“We’re proud to unveil a new brand for Kodansha that is, like the company itself, both edifying and entertaining,” says Hahn, founder and Principal at Gretel.

To signal Kodansha’s visual and strategic evolution and celebrate its purpose, Gretel also created a branded film, ‘Taking Flight.’ The film follows the migration of stories from Kodansha, as they take flight across the city and eventually the world.