On April 18, NTT DoCoMo Inc. announced that it was revamping its brand. The company is ditching this:


In favor of this:


I heard on the grapevine that some vendors are now scrambling to ship out any hardware that carries the old logo. Apparently, they've got a grace period of a few weeks. After that, all products sold under the DoCoMo brand must display the new logo. (I guess that the "old brand" stuff that doesn't ship before the deadline will probably find its way to a market stall in Shanghai).

The English language discussion gives a "meh" verdict on the new corporate identity:


But I quite like this rebrand:

(1) The company is dropping the artificial and forced explanation for its name.

Old NTT DoCoMo told us that the name meant "Do Communications Over the Mobile Network."

And for years and years, I've been looking at this capital "D", lower-case "o", capital "C", lower-case "o", capital "M", lower-case "o" … Who did they think they were kidding? They just wanted to call themselves "Docomo" because it's a kind of pun on the Japanese word for "Anywhere."

It's part of a pattern of retroactively seeking out an "English" justification for cute Japanese brand names. The worst offender must be JR East's SuiCa. The company explains that it stands for "Super Urban Intelligent Card." Hmmm….

Of course, it's not just a Japanese problem. I'm aware that American and European companies do equally silly things. Do you remember the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor)? It surely would have been better to ditch all pretenses and call it the "Commodore Cuddly Puppy."

(2) I like the simplicity of this new look

The mix of colors, shapes and patterns in old DoCoMo logo never did anything for me. I quite like the simplicity of the red on white logo in an all lower-case geometric typeface.

Will this new look put some pep back into the somewhat tired DoCoMo brand?

In and of itself, I would guess not. But if the company delivers on its new brand statement by "getting to know you as an individual and understanding your aspirations" then the company should become more customer centric – That could be the key to revitalizing the brand.