[From July Issue 2012]
Just like every country has a national anthem, many Japanese companies have company anthems. Corporate anthems are songs that represent the spirit of the company, and are most often sung during corporate events and morning assemblies. In reality, even if they have one, many companies do not sing their anthems. However, there is a trend towards actively using the company anthem in order to unite employees and to give the corporate image a boost.
In recent years, many unique company anthems, perhaps commissioned from famous composers, or made in-house with the help of company employees, have made their debut. In addition, some company anthems have been made available for karaoke and are used to motivate employees. It seems that recently, rather than being formal and difficult, company anthems are something that foster and encourage a sense of community.
For example, Kikkoman Co., Ltd. commissioned the producer of AKB 48, AKIMOTO Yasushi, to write the lyrics for their anthem, and the popular composer OSHIMA Michiru to compose the music. Their anthem, titled “Oishii Kioku” (Delicious Memories), is sung on occasions such as when senior management addresses the company, or at initiation ceremonies, and the song is also played over the PA system at each office before the start of business. Additionally, the song is distributed through some karaoke on demand services and is utilized to deepen ties of friendship between clients and employees. The company anthem is an effective communication tool, used both within and without the company.
ITO Hiroshi of the Corporate Communication Department reflects on the tremendous impact the company anthem made on the company, “The company anthem has given us an opportunity to think about what kind of lifestyle we want to deliver to our customers, and it has allowed us to consider each aspect of our business from the standpoint of our customers. Also, by singing it together, it produces a feeling of unity between employees.”
There are some companies that put together their own lyrics and music, but there are also cases in which production companies have been commissioned to do this job. Creating company anthems, Idea-Garage Co. Ltd., operates “Sya-ka Seisaku Dot-com” (Corporate Anthem Dot-com). They produce company anthems by interviewing employees and discussing with them what kind of song they would like.
“In the past it was generally the case that company anthems would be reluctantly sung at morning pep talks, so at one point they began to disappear. But recently they’ve come back into the spotlight. If company employees can participate in writing the lyrics, this strengthens the sense that the ‘song is theirs.’ Listening to the familiar tune over and over again gives employees a chance to reflect back on why they are working for the company,” says company president, NISHIO Ryuichi.
Just like the word “kizuna” (ties) became a focus of attention after last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake, the importance of cooperating with each other to achieve the same goal is now being reaffirmed. One reason for the revival of the company anthem is to strengthen ties between company employees. Different from songs used in commercials to advertise products, company anthems aim to strengthen unity between employees and will surely increase in number from now on.
Text: ITO Koichi