The Journey of Branding Tippsy and Sake Itself

Hayataro Sakitsu

Table of Contents

    At the heart of Tippsy is an undying passion for sake — a passion I’ve been privileged to shape and share as its Creative Director from its inception. This article unveils my journey of navigating the intricate nuances of branding, not just for Tippsy but for sake itself.

    The essence of branding

    Sake bottles are lining up.

    Tippsy may be an online retailer showcasing an array of sake brands, but the branding of the store itself — formed through the overall shopping experience — is also essential.

    However, each sake brand stands proudly in its unique character; Tippsy never overshadows them. Brands like Kamotsuru and Harushika exude a traditional “old-school” charm, while others like Ohmine and Sakari embrace modern branding aesthetics. That’s why, at Tippsy, we opt for subtlety over overwhelming “Japanese style” impositions, honoring the distinct identities of every sake brand.

    Tippsy logo.

    Photo by Hayataro Sakitsu.

    Our name, Tippsy, is a playful twist on tipsy, capturing the essence of a simple, authentic and joy-filled sake experience. The challenge? Designing a logo that encapsulates this effervescent spirit. To ensure our logo would resonate with these sentiments, I aimed to keep it uncomplicated, yet infuse it with a subtle hint of Japanese sake.

    Tippsy logo.

    The artful incorporation of a “tokkuri” (sake carafe) silhouette within the letter “y” lends a distinctive and playful touch to the design.

    Finding our voice: the tagline

    Tippsy mission statement, “spread the love of sake.”

    At Tippsy, everything we do is in pursuit of the genuine mission to “spread the love of sake.”

    Why Tippsy? Why now? For whom?

    The answers gradually emerged during heartfelt discussions with our founder and CEO, Genki Ito. His vision was clear: “To make sake as beloved and recognized as wine in America, and seamlessly weave it into the American tapestry.”

    But deeper than market goals was an emotion. Ito passionately expressed, “The world deserves to experience the euphoria of quality sake.” When I stumbled upon his words, “spread the love of sake,” everything clicked. That sentiment became our guiding star — our tagline. And while we aim to make sake an accepted part of the everyday American drinking experience, we also want to ensure that we preserve its uniquely Japanese heritage.

    Setting the standard: brand guidelines

    Tippsy‘s brand guidelines.

    Tippsy’s brand guidelines help keep all staff on the same page when it comes to effectively and accurately explaining sake and other aspects of the Japanese language. For more information, see our Editorial Process page.

    The world of sake is enchanting but can be daunting due to linguistic barriers. At Tippsy, we’ve meticulously curated guidelines that transcend typical brand aesthetics. From decoding intricate sake terminologies to ensuring impeccable English translations, we leave no stone unturned. Our commitment? Making Tippsy the gold standard for Japanese sake information in the English realm.

    Crafting digital experiences: the website

    An image of Tippsy website top page.

    Photo by Hayataro Sakitsu.

    The beauty of sake is sometimes lost in translation, especially with labels steeped in intricate Japanese. To bridge this gap, we always design the Tippsy website with both the novice and the aficionado in mind. Our product pages, adorned with intuitive icons and graphics, ensure a delightful and enlightening browsing experience.

    Technical specs of sake on Tippsy product page.

    Everything you want to know about a sake product — from technical specs and temperature recommendations to regional insights, taste profiles and pairing suggestions — is intuitively presented on each product page.

    Browsing is not only enjoyable and effortless, but we also prioritize ensuring that all information is both accurate and up to date. Our product team, led by Portfolio Manager Sachiko Miyagi, meticulously monitors every detail for our more than 400 products.

    Furthermore, all our descriptions and text content are refined by Editor/Marketing Specialist Taylor Markarian, who masterfully transforms them into beautifully crafted English.

    The grand vision: branding sake for the world

    Hakkaisan “Yukimuro” 3 Years Snow Aged paired with smoked brisket.

    Hakkaisan “Yukimuro” 3 Years Snow Aged paired with smoked brisket. | Photo by Hayataro Sakitsu.

    To elevate Japanese sake globally requires more than just marketing; it demands a movement. Our goal is simple yet profound: ignite a global love affair with sake. Every sip of sake is a symphony of history, culture, craft and emotion, rivaling the grandeur of fine wines.

    We aim to capture and share these stories and sensations with the world. The future of Japanese sake on the global stage hinges on how effectively we can communicate its enchanting allure, as well as the fact that it is an ancient beverage that deserves recognition and respect.

    To the world of sake, kampai!

    Hayataro Sakitsu

    Hayataro Sakitsu

    Based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, Hayataro serves as the Creative Director at Tippsy since the company’s founding. He is also the Principal Design Director at Studio Elepaio, a visual studio specializing in art, graphic design, illustration and photography. With a keen interest in sake, Hayataro merges his passions for design and culture in his creative endeavors.

    Learn about Tippsy’s Editorial process

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