The dynamic loop
Yūsaku Kamekura's 1984 logo for Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation
Following WWII, during the occupation of Japan as the country rebuilt, its telecommunications system was operated by American company AT&T. This responsibility was handed back in 1952, and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NTT) (Nippon Denshin Denwa Kōsha) was reestablished as a state monopoly. From 1952 to 1984 NTT used a logo created from two inter-connected ‘T’s caught in a loop. This can still be spotted on old manhole covers throughout the country today.
In 1985 a governmental programme of industry privatisation was initiated. This was intended to develop competition within the country's telecoms market, improving services and reducing cost. This would see NTT spun off into a private corporate entity on April 1, 1985, ending its 115 years run as Japan's only telecommunications service.
The NTT corporate identity program (CI) was initiated in 1982. This would position the company ready for a new competitive landscape and help employees gain a better awareness of their roles within this.
Rather than institute internal educational drives, NTT concentrated on replacing the ‘timeworn’ symbols of its monopolistic past with something ‘fresh’. This would broadcast to the general public that NTT had undergone major change and its employees now assumed attitudes more responsive to public expectations. Further, the new corporate identity sought to give the impression that NTT was constantly innovating and putting clients, people and society at the heart of its business.
The sheer scale of such a project, Japan’s largest at the time, required a team of experts. Design and development would be handled PAOS who, using their open source approach, would bring in specialists such as Yūsaku Kamekura. Responsible for producing the vast number of applications would be Dentsu Inc. This would eventually included over 13,000 designed items.
Keep reading to see some of Kamekura’s early concepts and understand the importance of a swift and coordinated rollout of NTT’s new corporate identity.