Oji Sushi by Seachange — BP&O
Text by Richard Baird.
Oji is a sushi brand of the first. It is the first in New Zealand to use fully recyclable and biodegradable packaging and the first to use all free range products. This is a significant advancement and sets the brand apart from established competitors. Oji opened in New Zealand with two locations in Auckland's Commercial Bay, a place where they source their salmon, with the intention of granting smaller concessions to gas stations, shopping malls and food courts in the future.
Desiring to grab attention, be recognized as a fun and memorable brand, and stand out from other sushi chains in the country while channeling some of Japanese culture, Oji worked with Seachange to create his brand identity. After a trip to Japan, the studio developed a visual language of character and characters, inspired by colliding worlds of calm, craft and sophistication, vibrancy, neon and pop. These boldly combine the biodegradable packaging with interior graphics, signage and websites.
Chef Yukio Ozeki runs the Oji kitchen. He is a well-known figure in Japanese and fusion cuisine in Auckland. He is co-owner of Azabu and has made a name for himself with Ebisu. Ozeki's deep respect for the Japanese traditions of sushi making gives Oji Sushi its authenticity.
The visual identity is an interface between illustrated and typographic characters. Drawing on the name Oji, which means uncle in Japanese, Seachange created an iconic sushi character. This is aided by a more anthropomorphized "Oji says" tone that delivers direct messages about sustainability and quality, with simple alliteration to get news home quickly. "Smile instead of miles" is a nice little phrase too.
Simplicity and repetition, delivered through shape, motion graphics, and color blocking, perfectly characterize the sushi experience and are characterized by playfulness and distinction. It takes a careful hand to balance these out without being overly simplified and lacking in character. Also check out Seachange's work for We Compost and Supertrash.
The simple shape of the oji sign offers flexibility and expression. It is in the shape of a sushi roll, can grow and transform to fill the space, can wink, be sliced, create patterns, bend and dance. In connection with the type and grid, the work succeeds in deriving some of the range over different surfaces from a very simple form. Again, it is the repetition of the process used in making sushi and the shape of the sushi itself that gives meaning and humor to the character and the visual language associated with it.
The associated material language of sustainability becomes clear in the packaging. This offers a communicative nuance. You feel the positioning of the brand in your hands and are supported elsewhere by words and deeds. In addition, material and graphic language create contrasts and a dialogue between modernity and tradition, craftsmanship and comfort. An interior design of oak, hand-glazed Japanese tiles and traditional Japanese Norens alongside bright neon signs, repetitive motion graphics and projected images of Oji on the wall takes up a busy urban imagery from different eras and distills them into franchised components maintaining a fun and recognizable character. There's enough reach ingrained in the process and in the product to keep everything interesting. More from Seachange on BP & O.
Design: Seachange. Opinion: Richard Baird.
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