Global Branding & Digital Strategy Department
Strengthening Rakuten’s global brand through partnerships
La Liga's FC Barcelona, NBA's Golden State Warriors, and Spartan Race - the world’s most extreme obstacle course. These are just some of the famous sports brands that Rakuten has entered into partnerships with. The Global Marketing Department (GMSD) plays a central role in branding and marketing for Rakuten through these partnerships. This section will examine these branding initiatives.
Promoting Rakuten globally through partnerships.
GMSD has two primary missions. The first is the creation of global brand strategies for the Rakuten Group. The second is preparing and executing campaigns and promotions that utilize Rakuten brand assets, as well as its sports and entertainment businesses. For example, this includes the promotion of initiatives that deepen customers’ understanding of Rakuten’s business model and brands, thus expanding the Rakuten Ecosystem through Rakuten Points and cashback-based loyalty programs.
Prior to our recent partnerships, Rakuten already had over 15 years of branding and marketing experience through the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Vissel Kobe sports teams. We realized the need for global partnerships that will allow Rakuten to make further leaps forward as a worldwide brand. Sports, in particular, have the power to transcend the barriers of language, culture, and geographic region. Our belief in the power of this branding has led to Rakuten partnering with global sports brands.
Revealing Rakuten’s ability to take on the world through a sports-based platform
When forming partnerships with sports teams, heavy focus is placed on the creation of a deep relationship between the team and Rakuten. The team in question must empathize with Rakuten’s core philosophy of empowering people and companies through innovation. FC Barcelona and Golden State Warriors both value teamwork and have a culture that strongly matches Rakuten’s philosophy, such as promoting activities rooted in local communities, thereby becoming a much-loved part of the area in question. This reveals the clear sense of logic behind the selection of teams that will become partners with Rakuten.
Sports-based branding initiatives also greatly contribute to Rakuten’s business activities. In the B-to-B world, Rakuten has become known as a company that is challenging itself to become a global brand. This resulted in, for example, the decision to launch Rakuten TV in 40 countries (as of April 2019) through cooperating with a variety of partner companies. It also led to a partnership with Wal-Mart in the US. This has all helped the company to expand its business worldwide. Sports partnerships are a powerful medium for raising awareness of Rakuten as a brand that is taking on the world.
Providing a diverse, open environment to allow our employees to communicate their ideas and constantly challenge themselves
As mentioned previously, GMSD has built up a large amount of experience related to sports branding. We promote the creation of manuals and systematization of usage methods, etc. This allows each of the Group's divisions to make full use of assets and usage rights generated through our partnership agreements. Our coordinating role between Rakuten’s organizations and the sports teams ensures that branding and marketing activities run smoothly and create business growth.
GMSD consists of around 30 employees. As well as Japan, we also have locations in Singapore, the US, and Europe. Our teams consist of American, British, Korean, Indian, Canadian, and Japanese members, creating a highly diverse environment. We have created a non-hierarchal organization that allows these diverse members to freely share business ideas, regardless of their experience or background. We have also created a team-based support system related to Rakuten's organizational structure and work processes. This system ensures new members can quickly put their skills to use.
GMSD combines the world’s best sports brands and Rakuten’s diverse services to realize unique and creative branding possibilities. It’s a great place to work for those who want to exercise their global branding skills.