Softbank 30 Year Vision – An Asian Lesson

SoftBank Corporation is a Japanese headquartered telecommunications and Internet corporation, with operations in broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, Internet, finance, and much much more. Established in Japan in 1981, its market capitalization in 2011 was more than US$43 billion. It’s a global player and recently gained the media spotlight with its 70 percent acquisition of US telco Sprint. SoftBank LogoI was recently reviewing its Website for content and thought it is a fantastic example to share on how Asian businesses do messaging differently. Having worked with companies on messaging in Europe, the US and across Asia, one thing is very clear:

  • The US leads with boldness
  • Europe is a little less bold but has learned from the Americans
  • ANZ follows the US-style but tend to be less formal
  • and Asians go about this idea in a whole different way

My take-away for companies operating globally and focusing on growth in the Asia Pacific region – the bold, pushy statements we have all come to know and love (or not) actually make a lot of business people in Asia squirm in their seats.

Business people in this region don’t like words and phrases if they do not resonate with the truth. This has been a big lesson for me as I work across multiple cultures in Asia Pacific, because when I am proposing words like ‘trail-blazing’ or ‘thought leadership’ or ‘world-class’ or even ‘great,’ anything I suggest had better resonate with the truth or I am politely told to tone it down. It’s taught me to ask up front – are we going to be bold or would you prefer to be understated?

But it’s more than words and phrases, it is also sentiment and SoftBank is a great example of this. On its Website, it asks the question – “What does happiness mean?

“Different people will give different answers: to love and be loved; to live each day to the full; to express oneself or; to smile.”

Can you think of the last time you saw the word love or happiness on a B2B Website?

Continuing with its philosophy – “SoftBank believes happiness is a form of inspiration. Why is the Group engaged in its business and what does it aim to achieve? To bring happiness and give inspiration to people — a vision that has guided SoftBank since its founding and is encapsulated in its corporate philosophy.”

“SoftBank believes that the performance of computers has increased rapidly and humanity is facing its own ‘big bang’ — an era of ultra-powerful computers that will usher in an Information Revolution of unlimited potential. It is vital that this transformation be brought about in the right way, so that it adds happiness to humanity. Since its founding, SoftBank has sought to use the Information Revolution to contribute to the wellbeing of people and society.”

But SoftBank also has a 30-year vision – I don’t think I have ever seen any company with a 30 year vision – have you?

“Our 30-Year Vision is a driving force for the Group as it continues to pursue growth: becoming a corporate group needed most by people around the world.

“This long-term vision aims for the SoftBank Group to contribute to peoples’ happiness through the Information Revolution for the next 30 years.”

I just found this messaging really insightful in regards to how differently Asian business think and position their companies, let alone the fact they’ve put a stake in the ground for the next 30 years. That alone is amazing. Truth, empathy, humanity, sincerity and more, are important in Asia and it’s a great lesson in being more sensitive when marketing across this vast region. When you pay attention to the global companies coming out of Asia, they really do go about business in a very different way, and while it can be more understated than the US and EMEA counterparts, it is still very successful. They just don’t embrace the flashy ‘stuff.’

Something to keep in mind when working on messaging for any company that positions itself for the global market.

Can you think of any other great examples of Asian messaging you can share?



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