Japanese companies used to sing company songs

January 15, 2019
by Noriyuki Morimoto

In the past, Japanese companies tended to have some extent of a religious atmosphere, singing company songs or chanting business philosophies like mantras. And actually, not only in the good-old days of Japan but also in the modern global economy, a symbol of communal belief is needed for the existence and growth of companies, regardless of whether it seems religious or not. Today, the proper name for that symbol would be brand.


Customer reputation is the very value of a company, and it is represented in its brand. That is true even while the reputation of customers is actually largely unfounded, and is something that can be called a myth. The company’s ability to create such myths makes its brand function to support corporate value.


And more importantly, myths must be believed within the company as well, as spreading an unbelieved myth to the customer is a fraudulent and insincere act to its customers. A myth can pass as such to outside the company because it is believed internally.


Outside the company, the myth is a symbol of customer’s trust in the company’s products and services. Inside the company, it is a symbol of pride for the company’s products and services. When that pride develops into a responsibility to never betray the customer’s trust, it is established as a brand and corporate value.


Therefore, brands cannot be maintained without daily innovation and creation within the company. Given the speed of change in contemporary society, as soon as a brand becomes complacent, it will betray customers’ trust, and corporate value will collapse. The commitment to never betray customer trust should inevitably lead companies to daily innovation and creation.


Faith is faith because it is deepened by a new sense of devotion every single day. Brands retain their myths because they keep advancing and developing through daily corporate efforts. Myths are recalled every day, and their meaning has to be reconfirmed every day. As faith has daily prayers, myths also need daily rituals. Therefore in the past, people in Japanese companies sang company songs like singing an ode.


[Category / Corporate Governance]

Noriyuki Morimoto
Noriyuki Morimoto

Chief Executive Officer, HC Asset Management Co.,Ltd. Noriyuki Morimoto founded HC Asset Management in November 2002. As a pioneer investment consultant in Japan, he established the investment consulting business of Watson Wyatt K.K. (now Willis Towers Watson) in 1990.