Recently a very special munchkin came into my life and I wanted to buy a soft toy for her, my first choice was a cute cow because “Gaay humari maata hai” and the socio-political weather in India calls for every child and adult to know this by heart! But looked like the Cow Plush was very popular and was out of stock in no time. So I bought a Hello Kitty instead, but the munchkin’s mummy didnt know what a high roller Hello Kitty was in the world of Graphic Design! So I thought along with her I will take you guys on this introductory journey through the world of this cute white cat which strangely has no mouth and yet is the most recognisable graphic on this planet.
This feline queen of kawaai (cute) recently turned 40 and Japan went nuts celebraing this milestone and its not surprising because Hello Kitty is symbolic of New Cool Japan and its post 1990 economy. So successful has Kitty been that she was was appointed the children’s ambassador for UNICEF in the United States in 1983 and chosen to be a Japanese diplomatic envoy, the official tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong, in 2008.
Hello Kity Orgins
Hello Kitty was first developed by Sanrio, a company that creates products focused on pop culture. Looking to add a cute characters to its merchandise in an attempt to increase sales, Sanrio conducted a survey and found that dogs, cats and bears (in no particular order) were the most popular. The company had already created a bear character and had a licensing agreement over the rights to use Charles M. Schulz’s Snoopy since 1969, so it decided to create a cat, which was conceived by in-house designer Yuko Shimizu in 1974 and first appeared on a vinyl coin purse sitting between a bottle of milk and a goldfish bowl.
Hello Kitty Evolution
Picture Credit: Japan Times
Hello Kitty Bio
Hello Kitty — aka Kitty White, is as tall as five apples, and as heavy as three (metric units is just too mainstream for this cutie), loves to bake and her favourite food is Apple Pie (Obviously!) She lives with her parents, George and Mary in London. She has an identical twin sister, Mimmy (the only way to tell them apart is by the colour of their bows) who is also her best friend. A Scorpio by birth, she also has a boyfriend called Dear Daniel.
Sanrio says that since Kitty’s inception the age demographic of Hello Kitty fans has also changed over the years. The original fans in the ’70s were either primary school children or young teenage girls. By the late ’80s, however, Hello Kitty had become increasingly popular with children in kindergartens. By early 2000s, the number of adult fans in Japan and worldwide had increased exponentially.
Reason for Hello Kitty’s Popularity
Various experts around the world have outlined a number of reasons for her success. Most popular being Hello Kitty’s relative blankness (attributed to the no mouth) that allows for a broad appeal where fans can project their own emotions on to her; be happy and sad with Hello Kitty. Also Sanrio deserves a tonne of credit for a strong a creative charecter development that had a mass appeal.
The pop culture boom also helped but other than that Hello Kitty always remained on top of trend with stratergic collaborations like, Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, MAC cosmetics and Vans sneakers to name a few. The 40th anniversary celebrations also saw numerous collaborations, including a signature collection by Sephora. Whatever the reason for her popularity, Hello Kitty is a branding & graphic design success story and soft-power master piece.
Hello Kitty is an excellent combination of attributes like simple, lovable and cute aided with universal design. More importantly it is backed by an intelligent and innovative company that has managed to keep the essence of Kitty undiluted yet up to date and on trend. I wonder why Kawaai culture never hit India as hard? What is your opinion about this tell me in the comments.