Following Michael Johnson’s fascinating Tokyo Tactics feature (DW 21 September), I feel compelled to add some important advice for design consultancies wishing to grow in the land of the rising sun.
Moving Brands established a Japanese foothold this summer in Meguro, Tokyo. Before sliding our doors open for business, we got in touch with The Japan External Trade Organisation, which gave us loads of consultancy advice on setting up shop.
We’ve learnt it’s imperative for consultancies to immerse themselves fully in Japanese culture and language. A long-term strategy is crucial – not just for your consultancy’s planning, but to demonstrate to your Japanese partners that you are committed to Japan and are willing to build long-lasting relationships.
Courting Japanese companies can be a protracted, but essential, exercise, requiring reassurance and patience, extensive amounts of negotiation and a need to constantly ‘be there’ for potential and existing clients.
The key to a successful start is to lay foundations for developing long-term relationships, as 30- to 40-year business relationships are not unheard of. It’s a good idea to invest in Japanese staff, as this demonstrates investment in the local economy and shows an effort to integrate with the culture.
Our offering has been perceived as delivering a fresh British perspective, clearly differentiating our services from local Japanese competitors. The work opportunities are enormous, but real, long-term investment is needed to yield success.
Tom Stobbs, Moving Brands, Japan