Meet New Lexus Chief Branding Officer Tokuo Fukuichi


Hans Greimel of Automotive News has a profile on outgoing Lexus International President Tokuo Fukuichi and his new position as Lexus Chief Branding Officer:

The ever-spritely Fukuichi, 65, was decked out in a loud pink polka-dot tie and a shirt with a black-and-white tablecloth-patterned collar.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has given Fukuichi latitude to tackle any issue related to branding in his new role, from product planning and technology to marketing and advertising.

“I’m able to do whatever I want,” said Fukuichi, who will continue in the additional role of the automaker’s head of advanced design.

Fukuichi will first tackle one of the ongoing core problems for the brand — differentiating Lexus from parent company Toyota:

He says it is crucial that Lexus escape the perception of being just Toyota-Plus, bemoaning people who buy aftermarket Lexus grilles to slap on their downmarket Toyotas.

“Let’s clearly define Lexus and wait and decide that some things can only be Lexus and not applied to Toyota,” Fukuichi said. “I would like to clarify that sort of distinction.”

This lack-of-separation is a real issue in Japan, where models like the Toyota SAI and Lexus HS are near identical. Other markets don’t experience the same kind of product duplication.

As for the long-term, Fukuichi is nothing if not ambitious:

“After you purchase a Lexus, your whole lifestyle changes. The people you meet and circulate with change,” he said. “That means with just one car, your total life image will change.”

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