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Craft Lab for Sakura


CIA Tokyo was instrumental to the futureproofing and resulting evolution of the Sakura brand, redefining its DNA and redesigning the customer experience to capture the essence of “New Nostalgia”. CIA also created an award-winning sub-brand -- Sakura Craft Lab.

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Our Solution

Since 1925, Sakura has delighted Japanese children with its “cray-pas,” becoming a nationally loved brand. Unfortunately, when the children grew older, they lost the need for their dear Sakura Cray-pas. CIA Tokyo was asked to figure out a way to reintroduce Sakura to adults who grew up on their brand but no longer felt the need for their products.

The CIA team applied its own brand of Futurology Branding to navigate the future of Sakura and figure out the brand’s evolution. CIA’s strategists conducted branding workshops and interviews with Sakura’s CEO and executives. Market research on the local and international stationery scenes were done, interviewing stationery users and store owners. The research allowed CIA to identify the brand’s DNA and its future direction, encapsulated by what would become a simple yet profound mantra – “New and yet Nostalgic.” The next step was designing the customer experience that fully expressed “New Nostalgia” in terms of the format, materials, colors and shapes.

The process gave birth to a new sub-brand, Sakura craft lab, with two major products 001 and 002.

Sakura craft lab 001 takes design cues from antique cameras and eyeglasses, features a heavy brass and smoked acrylic body and a grilled crown with an embossed Sakura logo. The refillable pen is designed to acquire a nice patina as it ages.

Sakura craft lab 002 is a more playful line of colorful pens, that features a sleek, brass, yet lightweight body, that evokes the look of the classic Sakura “Cupie” pencils, popular among school children.

Sakura craft lab 001 won “Grand Prize” at the Japanese Stationary Awards 2018, while 002 was included in the GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2018.

What We Did

CIA Tokyo navigated the future of Sakura and was instrumental to the evolution of the brand as CIA designed their customer experience, defined as New Nostalgia. CIA also created an award-winning sub-brand, Sakura Craft Lab.