Chris Reed
Apr 12, 2013

Tokidoki builds a cult brand through partnerships

Tokidoki is a cult Italian brand that many mistake for being Japanese. It has that has really used a succession of very cool brand partnerships to elevate the brand and tap into the passion of their fans through social media.

Tokidoki builds a cult brand through partnerships


Tokidoki is inspired by Japanese culture and has only been around since 2005 having been created by the Italian artiste Simone Legno. Tokidoki actually means “sometimes” or “from time to time”  in Japanese.

The designs focus on the bright, edgy, cute, witty and eye catching which helps in attracting a series of global brand partners that are at the centre of their marketing strategy. The objective is to cost effectively market a cool brand using other brand’s values, communications channels and customer bases with very little money being spent by Tokidoki.

Legno created a series of characters which communicate the Tokidoki brand and which are then perfect for brands to partner with and work together on. The most famous ones are those that have combined Tokidoki characters with Marvel designs and the ubiquitous Hello Kitty.

All the Tokidoki characters are darkly funny as are the designs with a particular emphasis on female characters centring the designs. The ranges include the Mafia, Catus, Doughnuts, Death, Wild Boys, Punk and Unicorns.

Legno is recognized for designing characters that capture the duality of human nature, good or bad, sexy or innocent. For example Qees -- dangling toys that come with each tokidoki for LeSportsac item -- have two faces, one happy and one sad.

Tokidoki produces everything from graphic t-shirts, jewellery, watches, skateboards alongside collaborations with New Era for caps, iSkin for iPod covers, Strangeco for toys and Smashbox for cosmetics alongside Sephora.

Comics are one of Legno’s big passions and much of his critical acclaim comes from the comic fraternity and can be seen within his designs. There is therefore a logical conclusion to this through the partnership with Marvel comic characters.

The Marvel brand partnership is particularly clever one as it rolls from one film character to another. There is Iron Man, X-Men, Spiderman, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk all fused together with Tokidoki characters and in the Tokidoki look and feel. It’s a natural and very clever fit that benefits both brands.

Other brand partnerships include Levi’s for jeans, SkullCandy and Solrepublic for headphones, Asics for sportswear, Barbie, Onitsuka Tiger for shoes, Mikasa for tablewear, Fujitsu for lap top covers, [email protected] for toys, Ride for snowboards. They even have a cool partnership with Karl Lagerfeld, an XBOX game and T-Mobile.

All of this means that Tokidoki don’t spend much money on marketing, it’s all about social media and word of mouth propelling the brand to ensure that it remains cool and aspirational amongst the target audience and the audience of these never ending brand partners. It’s all about tapping tinto the partner brands infinitely deeper marketing pockets to communicate the association with Tokidoki.

The ultimate brand partnership is one that is fusing skin with the Tokidoki brand and that is happening with Tokidoki tattoo’s displayed on the official facebook and twitter sites by passionate fans.

Tokidoki have really used social media well to capitalise on the passion for all things Tokidoki amongst fans. Tokidioki use the full range of social media sites from the obvious facebook and twitter to the very visual Pinterest and Instagram. The brand is owned in many respects by the fans and you can see from the personal illustrations, interpretations and photography that fans have happily shared on the above platforms that there is a real pride amongst the customer base for the brand.

Social engagement is relatively straightforward as long as you have a brand like Tokidoki which fans love and are happily to talk about and share with their friends. Tokidoki fuel this this through constant brand partnership product launches to tap into other brand’s pool of customers.

Tokidoki combine this with re-energising their existing base with new characters and new products so that they feel special and wish to share alongside telling them about new Tokidoki partner branded products. Simone himself does many road shows and events and is a cult figure across the world where people queue up to meet him or have them sign their Tokidoki branded product.

With the brand having so many aspects to it and with so many brands having created jointly branded products the brand fuels excitement and loyalty through social media. They remain cool, always fresh and new  and this has been key to its success.

It really is all about word of mouth recommendation through social media and the attractiveness of their very colourful and very unique illustrations on aligned brands. Why spend money on media when you have brands who are willing to tell your story for you and an army of fans to propel that message?


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