Feature Interview

January 2014

Creating an Entirely New Brand for an Entirely New Company: Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors Joint-Venture, NMKV

Choosing the Partner Who Best Understands NMKV

Sato: It feels like the question of NMKV's role took up more than half of the time during our meetings for the creation of the website.

Nakazawa: We were so overwhelmed with the tasks at hand that we did not have the opportunity to discuss our branding strategy. So we decided to put emphasis on the web creation project, and put things in order to understand NMKV's role while requiring the help of an outside company. Therefore, the criteria for choosing our partner were their ability to understand the nature of our work, think along with us, and concretely express our ideas both visually and textually.

Sato: During the orientation meeting, your concept of wanting to emphasize your qualities as an automotive company without displaying a single image of a car made quite an impression. To be perfectly honest, I thought that this would be a tough one (laughs). I was very perplexed, but I was also excited to take on the challenges it presented.

Takahama: We met with quite a few companies and thought you were the one that best understood the nuances of our requests for our website we had expressed during the orientation meeting as well as the one who best expressed them. Some of the companies took the "we will do as you say and accommodate your every need" kind of approach to the job, but that wasn't what we were looking for. On the contrary, Arc Communications had an approach which consisted in honestly telling us what was right and wrong about our requests so that we could pursue the best path. I instinctively felt we could communicate efficiently and effectively.

Ohsato: Did this project meet your expectations and requests?

Takahama: Yes, it turned out as we had hoped. We would go to meetings with a vague idea in mind and come out with a clear vision. The following week, you would put that into form and we would have a visual presentation, which would bring up another topic. And the process repeated, but we fully realized the importance of those discussions for the project.

Nakazawa: The website was very well received by many people amongst which were our own employees and those of the parent companies. Also, you handled all the offline aspects of the project, with the translation of media sessions and so forth. Actually, after reading the final documents the CEO said "It's a good thing we went with Arc Communications." I think you are probably the partner that best understands NMKV outside of NMKV itself.

NMKV's Future: Minicars and Beyond

Ohsato: Lastly, I would like to ask about NMKV's plans for the future.

Nakazawa: First of all, we have our sights set on establishing ourselves and being recognized in the Japanese market, but we feel there are many objectives to seek. Many people have expectations for electric vehicles when they hear the names of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. With minicars, people tend to ask for better gas mileage, but there's a limit to what minicars can accomplish. Electric vehicles have the potential to solve various problems, including the reduction of environmental burden in particular. So that's something I would like to try my hands at. And at the same time, globalization is another important issue. Minicars are a very Japanese concept, so it might sound strange to talk about them on a global scale but we are thinking about it.

Sato: I'm no expert, but generally when it comes to creating good minicars, the concept is to make them high-quality. However, through interviews and meetings, I had the impression that NMKV had a radically different approach: you started by making a high-quality registered vehicle as small as possible and it happened to fall under the minicar standard.

Takahama: Indeed. We have a strong conviction that the national specifications we used to design and develop our cars are not limited to Japan's domestic market. We also strongly believe that with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors' resources and technical expertise, we can expand our products to the global market.

Nakazawa: Currently, NMKV is still at the dawn of its existence and its period of maturity is a long way off, so we wish to continue taking on a variety of challenges, and I believe our parent companies expect no less from us.

Ohsato, Sato: Thank you very much for your time today.