storm from the east / Editorial consultancy and graphic design studio / Based in Tokyo since 2006

Brand Glue | Graphic design

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Woodieful Chair by Woodieful

 » Design, Furniture

I love this! The Woodieful Chair is an "adaptable piece of furniture that fits into every space and lifestyle." Functioning as a chair, table, stool or whatever other use you fancy, it's a beautiful piece of furniture made from beech.


Go and support this great project on Kickstarter and find out more on the Woodieful website.

Logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

 » Culture, Design, Graphic design, Japan, Sports, Tokyo

The logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been chosen, and there it is below. Designed by artist Asao Tokolo, whose website is currently down - presumably due to the amount of people now wanting to look at it - it was chosen by members of the public from a shortlist of four designs.

Tokyo 2020 logo

I'm happy to hear that Tokolo will receive ¥1 million for his winning design, and not just a ticket to the Games, although I was shocked to hear that less than 42,000 people submitted their opinions on the designs. In a nation of 127 million people, that either suggests enormous apathy or a poorly conducted process.

UPQ Bike me01

 » Bikes, Design, Green Designs, Japan, Tokyo

The UPQ Bike meo1 is a new lightweight folding e-bike made by Tokyo-based UPQ (pronounced 'up Q'). It can be fully-charged in about 3.5 hours and has a range of about 35km, which is perfect for nipping around town. Being fully electric, it obviously has no emissions and, as an added bonus, it can even charge your electronic devices via a USB port.


The other thing I really like about the company is that it was founded by a young, and obviously very smart, Japanese lady, Yuko Nakazawa (you can find her on Twitter here.)

Find out more about the bike and other UPQ products on their website.

Homemade spinach & rocket hummus

 » Food & drink, Health

As part of my endeavour to regain fitness for the 1,000th time I'm sticking to healthier meals and snacks, trying as much as possible to make my own. I make hummus quite often because it's easy and healthy, but this is the first time I've really added anything. And it's lovely.


I don't really follow recipes as such, so here's what I used:

Continue reading "Homemade spinach & rocket hummus" »

Joshua Prager: Wisdom from great writers on every year of life

 » Books, Inspiration, TED Talks, Zen

Books, graphics by Milton Glaser and thoughts about getting older? I'll have a bit of that.

5 things that will improve your brand recognition

 » Branding, Branding advice series, Marketing

A few years ago I was working on a project for my former company and needed to use their logo. The legal department sent me a rather complex and flowery document laying out exactly how the logo was to be used, including limits relating to "constricting dreams and imagination."

These kinds of documents tend to be a bit flowery, so I just focused on making sure I wasn't breaking any rules and finished the project. But I was curious to see if everybody else was using the logo properly and was shocked by what I found.

Not only were people changing the size of the logo - making it unrecognizable in some cases - they were altering the colour, angle, amount of spacing and pretty much anything else they could. In many cases, I didn't know if they were related to the company or not, which is a big problem. Despite the legal document saying how the logo should be used, there was almost no consistency in how it actually was being used.

This a huge problem because it affects brand recognition and, in turn, business.

To avoid such problems, here are five things you can do to make it easier for people to recognize and remember your brand.

Continue reading "5 things that will improve your brand recognition" »

Logo finalists for Tokyo 2020

 » Culture, Design, Event, Graphic design, Japan, Sports, Tokyo

Let me start by saying I love Tokyo. It's a vibrant and eclectic city that I've enjoyed living in, or near, to for close to twenty years. That's one of the reasons I'm really disappointed with the shortlist for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics logo.

Here are the four shortlisted entries:





I'm not here to make cheap jokes or to criticize for the sake of criticizing, so let's stick to why I feel that only one of them would work and why I'm disappointed on the whole.

First of all, it was a competition, open to anybody regardless of qualifications or experience. In how many other industries do such things exist? Could you imagine asking a few lawyers to work for you for free and you'll choose the best one, with the winner getting a 'like' on Facebook? Or getting some builders to build a few houses and you'll choose which one you want, with the winner getting invited over for dinner when you move in?

In professional terms, this is the equivalent. The winner will receive "an official invitation to attend the opening ceremonies of both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games." That's it. If you think that's good, or that winning will lead to more work, consider if you'd be willing to work for free to attend an event or on the off chance it'll lead to something else.

The other problem with these competitions is that they rarely, if ever, lead to an effective design. There are a few reasons for this, including:

- The designer is unable to work closely with the client
- Neither party is able to effectively communicate ideas and suggestions
- The full concept or image can't truly be grasped

This means that the designer is basically working half-blind, as they've no idea whether or not the concept they're working on fits.

The original announcement for the competition stated that the "Games emblems should seek to symbolise the fact that the 2020 Games are being held in Tokyo and Japan, and elicit empathy with people across the world. The designs should endeavour to have widespread appeal before, during and long after the 2020 Games are over. "

That's pretty vague, although it could easily be cleared up with consultation between the designer and client(s). In competitions, that's not possible, so that's basically all you've got to work with.

They added:

"Tokyo 2020 would like all applicants to give full rein to their imagination and creativity, and incorporate one or more of the following key concepts into their design of new Games emblems: "The power of sport", "Typifying Tokyo and/or Japan", "World peace", "Exerting the utmost efforts and striving to achieve a personal best,", "Inclusivity", "Innovation and Futuristic", "Regeneration (ability to recover from the 2011 disaster)."

Again, this is too flexible and vague to really mean anything. It's kind of like asking for a tattoo that makes you look brave, innovative, passionate, peaceful and intelligent. Any, and all, of those concepts could be interpreted differently by different people.

Make it "Japanese"

Take the concept of "typifying Tokyo and/or Japan", for example. Should it be an easily-identifiable image, or something with a deeper cultural meaning? How do you communicate it so that the meaning isn't lost or too obscure? This is something a professional designer has to do with everything they design.

Now, back to the designs. The only one that looks even vaguely representative of Japan is D. The morning glory is often used is Japanese design, particularly to denote summer, which is fitting. One could also argue that these flowers also symbolize regeneration. Other connections are a little tenuous, as the official rationale shows:

"The morning glory flower as it faces up towards the heavens to greet the new morning, expresses the faces of athletes striving to attain a personal best and the bright faces of people as they applaud the athletes. The upward-looking morning glory also represents the climax of this range of emotions."

Design C supposedly symbolizes the "Wind God and the Thunder God, and seek[s] to convey dynamic movement at the instant an athlete breaks the tape on the finish line", although they're not well-known outside Japan and I think you have to be really looking for them.

In terms of execution, they're all pretty well put together. I'm not sure about the scalability of all of them, but they certainly look professional. A doesn't really say anything to me, and the explanation offered on the doesn't really help. I think it's the weakest of the four.

B and C veer a bit too much into standard "make it look a bit Olympic-y" for my liking. They could be used for pretty much any destination and be justified by some marketing speak.

In conclusion, I'm disappointed by the process and the results. If any of these designs has to be used, I'd like it to be D because it's the nicest and most applicable.

How about you?

Zaha Hadid dies of a heart attack

 » Architecture

Dame Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned British-Iraqi architect, has died of a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis in a Miami hospital. She was 65.


Whichever side of the fence you stand on regarding her distinctive curvy style, there's no denying the impact her work has had.

The Guardian has much more on the story.

That's a very pink, sparkly Lamborghini

 » Fun, Japan

I was sitting at a traffic light this morning when the car below trundled past in front of me. I'm sure you'll agree, it's not exactly something you're likely to miss.


I found out it belongs to World Wing, a company based not a million miles from our office, which explains why it was around. Apparently it's used to promote their Lyzer brand and, seeing as it certainly attracts attention, it could be working.

Get moving to get more creative

 » Bikes, Creativity, Health, Inspiration, Zen

You might not be getting the most out of your creative potential if you spend all day sitting at a desk. Science is backing up what many people who ride a bike, go for a run, or do any other form of aerobic exercise probably already know: exercise can help you think freely and become more creative.


One study found that exercise "potentially provides tangible improvements to creative productivity" and that companies "that encourage aerobic exercise for employees may yield increases in creative output and innovation in product development, promotion, operations management, and many other areas."

Continue reading "Get moving to get more creative" »

Why cycling works in Tokyo. Or does it?

 » Bikes, Japan, Tokyo

I saw this video posted on the Radavist and, although I enjoyed it and agree with a lot of it, I think it paints a rosy picture of cycling here. I tend to commute by bike and I love it. Some things could be a lot better, though. Before I get to that, enjoy the video:

It's true that running a car is expensive and parking is ridiculously expensive (bear in mind you can't register a car unless you've got somewhere to park it).

One thing that was largely ignored in the video is that cyclists are often a bigger nuisance than cars. Every day I see people riding the wrong way along roads - I also drive, so this is very worrying - or listening to iPods and looking at their phones while they ride. Apparently the law is being tightened in these areas but, like riding on pavements (sidewalks), very few people I've spoken to seem to realize they're doing anything wrong (that doesn't mean I stop people and scold them, by the way).

Another problem is many people on bikes are blissfully unaware of what's going on around them. They'll swerve suddenly, ignore stop signs, ride through pedestrian crossings or - as has happened to me - literally ride into you without noticing you're there.

Continue reading "Why cycling works in Tokyo. Or does it?" »

Some recent work

 » Editing, Work, Writing

One thing we're planning to do more of this year is share some of the work we've been up to, so here are a couple of projects we've been involved in.

Working hard

Continue reading "Some recent work" »

Are graphic designers a 'remarkably touchy lot'?

 » Culture, Graphic design

“Remarkably touchy lot, designers” is an interesting piece in Creative Review about "the mainstream media’s knee-jerk and ill-informed reaction to logo design". Well worth a read.

"[G]raphic design is perceived to be easy. It’s colouring-in and a few shapes, slapping new logos on old brands, something anyone could do with the right software and some time.

The counterbalance is that we, as designers, don’t really help ourselves – could it be the fault of our egos? We often take ourselves so seriously, which, in turn, leads our own discussions into “I can do better” – not to mention the arguments about kerning, colour and which typeface is best. If we act like this online, in public, then maybe the press take their cues from that?"

George Orwell's six rules for writing

 » Inspiration, Writing

Some timeless writing advice from George Orwell:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are
used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you
can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.

Five ways to get noticed

 » Branding, Branding advice series

You can find plenty of articles about how to make your brand stand out, but five common sense points will pretty much ensure that you get noticed.

1) Have a great product or service

If your product or service isn't worth a second look, no amount of marketing is going to save it.

2) Be enthusiastic

It should be clear that you care about what you do. Show people how much you love it.

Continue reading "Five ways to get noticed" »


We're an editorial consultancy and graphic design studio based in Tokyo, Japan.

If you're looking for words and images to bring your story to life, we'd love to help. Send us an email and we'll get right back to you:

We've worked on projects with people like:

Sony, Audio-Technica, Panasonic, Kumon, GoPro, Facebook Japan, Creativeman, Sri Lankan Air, Wired, [and many more].

We can help you with...

Content creation
Graphic design
Art direction
Educational materials design & creation
Marketing campaigns
Brand identity
Logo design
Editorial design
Translation (J-E)
Book design
Poster design


Brand Glue (course)


This is our blog, where we talk about branding, design, architecture, marketing and things we like. We're planning a print publication in 2016.

About & Contact

storm from the east is an editorial consultancy and graphic design studio helping companies and individuals communicate more effectively.

Inspired by our adopted home of Tokyo, Japan, we ensure everything you create is clear, stylish and built to last.

© storm from the east 2006-2016

Work we do

Content creation
Graphic design
Art direction
Educational materials design & creation
Marketing campaigns
Brand identity
Logo design
Editorial design
Translation (J-E)
Book design
Poster design

Selected clients, projects & publications

Facebook Japan
SriLankan Air
The Times Online

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