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One day on TV, I saw Michio Mado, a well-known poet who wrote the famous nursery rhyme that goes "Little elephant, little elephant, what a long nose you have." "Sure it's long, and my mommy's is too." I consider this song to be about the deep affection between a mother and her child, and be intended to mean that a baby elephant that is being teased and bullied by other animals due to its extremely long nose can feel more secure around its mother as she has a similarly long nose.
I was impressed by how profound a meaning such an ordinary thing can be interpreted as having.
Michio wrote in an essay:
"?" is a question mark. I find wonders everywhere, and always "?" is all I have. I wonder about everything--What is this? What is that? And what is this?--for absolutely everything. I'm not so clever, therefore my mind is full of question marks. Occasionally, some question marks turn into a "!"--an exclamation mark. So, my diary everyday is filled with "?" and "!".
--An excerpt from "A Centenarian's Diary" (NHK Publishing Co.) by Michio Mado
I like the Honda trademark. The "H" mark is very simple and unique, and clearly identifies HONDA. One day, through Mr. Katsutoshi Zaita, who is currently an advisor to Komy and previously worked at Honda, I had a chance to meet Mr. Shinya Iwakura, who created this "H" mark for Honda and its successful products.
At that time, Mr. Iwakura was a professor at Tama Art University. He designed a poster with the characters "!?" on it and stuck it to the entrance door of his office,
intending it to mean that students without a sense of wonder and excitement cannot enter.
After hearing this story, I responded by saying "How interesting!" Immediately afterwards, he presented us with a panel emblazoned with the "!?" design. This panel is displayed at the entrance of Komy's showroom.
It is necessary for manufacturers to form the habit of asking "Why?" From early pioneers such as Edison, Soichiro Honda and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota, to more recent examples, such as the late Steve Jobs, it can be
said that manufacturers have always been asking themselves "Why? Why? Why?"
When problems such as customer complaints arise, every employee, especially the workers involved directly in the manufacturing process, ought to handle the problem, keeping in mind the slogan "Identify the true cause by using the 5 Whys question-asking technique!" Otherwise the company may fail.
As I wanted our whole workforce to become seekers of "Why," I asked Mr. Hiroshi Nishiyama, one of our advisors, to design a trademark for us from the perspective of thinking "Why? Why? Why?" followed by
the joyful moment of finding the answer. In just two hours, he had realized the design that I had envisaged.
I immediately registered this trademark, then subsequently put it on our workers' uniforms, business cards, letterheads--everything!
I've never seen "?" or "!" incorporated into the trademarks of other companies around the world. I hope that this "made-in-Japan" trademark will become one that is recognized worldwide.