Okinawa University PROJECT

Beyond the Horizon of Rankings: Branding Okinawa University Through Empathy and Localized Storytelling


Breaking free from ‘deviation score’ competition

For prospective students in Japan, getting into university has traditionally rested on one thing: the Hensachi (deviation score). A standardized score based on how far one’s test results deviate from the average, the Hensachi has been the de facto system for measuring academic performance and university admittance in Japan since its emergence in the 1960s, but its significance as an indicator of success within modern Japanese life has led to growing criticism and disillusionment.

Despite the diverse pool of career options available today, added with the specific needs of local contexts, universities like Okinawa University have long struggled to appeal to prospective students outside of the box of deviation score rankings. Through the support of Loftwork, Okinawa University embarked on a rebranding project based around empathy, to better promote its core vision of being “a place to realize the dreams of local people”.

The renewal of the university’s website and visual identity culminated in the content-based project ‘To 17 Year-Olds’, a series of interviews with Okinawa University alumni and Okinawa Prefecture locals who have carved out their own way of life, conveying to prospective 17 year-old students in Okinawa not only the university’s values, but also the possibilities outside the seemingly be-all and end-all Hensachi.

Project Overview

  • Support Content
    Requirements definition, VI creation, information design, design, coding, development, content creation, content migration
  • Project period
    February 2020 – November 2020
  • Project members
    Client: Okinawa University
    Producer: Satomi Fujiwara
    Project Manager: Mariko Motoi
    Director: Ayano Nagano
    Art Director: Atsuko Ogawa
    Technical Director: Tomomi Ito
    Logo / VI Creation: Atsushi Honda
    Web Design: Panorama Co., Ltd.
    Coding: Masashi Harakuni
    CMS Development: Hisao Kawamitsu
    Photographer: Masako Nakagawa
    Content editing, coverage: 松島 由布子 (SUDERU)


New Content: "To 17 Year-Olds”

The interviews conducted were not only of Okinawa University alumni, but also by people from Okinawa who are active in various fields.

Founded in 1958, Okinawa University is an institution with firm roots in the local community, having both played a part in its unique history and being an education provider that actively contributes to local life through human resources. One of Okinawa University’s core goals has always been to provide high school students living in Okinawa with broader perspectives on life, as well as opportunities to carve out their own ways of living.

To emulate this spirit, we conducted and produced interviews with Okinawa individuals in varying fields, including sportspeople and media personalities, as well as and local industry workers – each armed with their own unique insights on life. Aiming to open up the possibilities for 17-year-old high school students who are thinking about their future career paths, we introduced their real-life experiences – including not only success stories but also failures.

Not limiting ourselves to graduates of Okinawa University, we interviewed a wide range of people, all sharing the common goal of creating a better Okinawa. Communicating the values that Okinawa University holds dear not only helps to promote the overall identity of the school, but also makes for an important statement on the future of Okinawan society.

New Visual Identity

This new logo represents the concept of Okinawa University as a place of intersection. Through the university, students and the diverse people of Okinawa will intersect with one another to learn together, grow together, and contribute to the development of Okinawa together.

The design is based on the image of the Kazimaya (Okinawan windmill), drawing upon the idea that all winds will eventually harmonize to form one big wind, and that we will work together to create the “new Okinawa University of the future”. The design colors – from green to blue – represent the circulation of the forest to the sea in Okinawa, with various tones expressing diversity.

Okinawa University Official Website


Logo selected for the ‘Japan Typography Yearbook 2021’.

The new logo of Okinawa University has been selected for the Japan Typography Yearbook 2021, an annual competition held by the NPO Japan Typography Association. There are 10 categories, including typeface, logotype/symbol mark, VI, graphic, editorial, and research/experimental, with about 400 entries from both Japan and abroad selected each year. The winning and selected works, including the Okinawa University logo, will be published in the 2021 ‘Japan Typography Yearbook’, scheduled to be released in April 2021.

Development of logo for business cards and other products

The logo created for this project has also extended to new business cards and other university products and goods.



“To whom, what, and how should we communicate? The members of the university and Loftwork worked together as a team to discuss these questions, and through a process of trial and error, I think we were able to find the direction we wanted to take the renewed website. Thanks to the people at Loftwork, I feel that we were able to put into practice our university's philosophy of ‘co-creation’ in this project.

兼島 徹, Management Planning Office, Okinawa University

“In the midst of the rapid shift to online education during the Coronavirus pandemic, I reconsidered the ‘value of studying at a university’ many times. But I changed my mind when I came into contact with Okinawa University and the attitude of the people on campus, who are so committed to the future of the community and young people.

Mariko Motoi, Creative Director, Loftwork Inc. 


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