Meet OSG’s popular mascot and hear his untold story
Masatoshi Kageyama | OSG Corporation
Tap-kun is OSG Corporation’s official brand mascot. It is a fictional cutting tool character based on the imagery of a hand tap, which is the first product of OSG since its founding in 1938. The friendly hand tap character Tap-kun serves as OSG’s brand ambassador in the promotion of the company, the manufacturing industry, and local communities. The direct translation of Tap-kun is Tapboy.
Tap-kun is OSG Corporation’s official brand mascot. It is a fictional cutting tool character based on the imagery of a hand tap, which is the first product of OSG since its founding in 1938.
Behind the Birth of OSG’s Mascot Tap-Kun
In late 2007, OSG Global Engineering Group senior staff Kanako Mizutani became involved in a cross-functional project for OSG Corporation’s homepage renewal. One of the key objectives was to improve the career section of the website. Before joining OSG, Mizutani had a few years of experiences as a human resources officer and played a key role in the initiative.
Kanako Mizutani joined OSG Corporation in 2003. She is currently a senior staff of the company’s Global Engineering Group and manages joint projects with a German partner company and intellectual property. Prior to her current role, Mizutani worked in various fields within the company, with experiences in technical support, investor relations, financial analysis, management strategy, marketing and branding. “One of my memorable projects was the renewal of OSG’s corporate brand identity and the establishment of the company tagline “shaping your dreams,” said Mizutani.
“I knew how difficult it can be for B-to-B companies like OSG to attract job candidates fresh out of college,” Mizutani said. “I thought the first step we should take was to make OSG better known among candidates,” she said.
Mizutani had several ideas, and one of them was to create an official brand mascot. At the time, OSG already had three mascots called Nezilla, Drilla and Milla in the shape of dinosaurs that were meant to represent taps, drills and end mills respectively. However, the characters never gained the popularity the company had anticipated.
“The dinosaur characters were good-looking but a little old-fashioned,” Mizutani said. “I felt that they needed an upgrade.”
Mizutani wasn’t confident with her drawing skills, but she did her best and provided a sketch of her idea to a partner design company and asked them to make it a super good-look ‘yuru-kyara,’ which can be translated as a ‘loose character’ that is cute and cuddly. After multiple reviews and edits, the design company was able to create what Mizutani had in mind, and Tap-kun was born.
Left: Tap-kun’s profile. Right: A replicate of the original sketch of Tap-kun by Kanako Mizutani, who created OSG’s brand mascot in 2008.
Mizutani stresses that it is crucial to enhance OSG’s presence not only among customers and job candidates, but also all stakeholders including local communities. With a friendly and approachable character, Mizutani believes that a mascot can further facilitate public interest in OSG.
“People who are unfamiliar with OSG may become interested by seeing Tap-kun and may search for more information, which is one of the goals of having a brand mascot,” said Mizutani.
OSG’s official brand mascot Tap-kun poses for a photograph with a newly made manhole cover advertisement in Toyokawa, Aichi on October 1, 2019. OSG Corporation’s headquarters is located in the city of Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture. It is the hometown of nearly half of OSG Corporation’s employees in Japan. OSG takes great pride in Toyokawa and hopes to continue to contribute back to its hometown through meaningful initiatives involving its brand mascot.
Tap-kun was first unveiled at the renewed OSG homepage in September 2008. He served as the host of an online quiz called Neji no Ana on the career section of the corporate homepage. Initially, Tap-kun only appeared in mediums pertaining matters related to human resources.
Tap-kun poses for a group photo with employees from OSG Sulamericana at the EXPOMAFE in May 2017. EXPOMAFE is a leading Brazilian exhibition where the world’s top manufacturing machinery, equipment and technology suppliers gain access to the most important buyers of the metalworking industry in Latin America.
In the past couple of years, however, Tap-kun has gained substantial recognition and popularity thanks to OSG’s global marketing team, which has been promoting the character as the company’s official brand ambassador worldwide. Today, Tap-kun has become a beloved yuru-kyara in the manufacturing industry in Japan as well as overseas.
OSG’s beloved mascot Tap-kun has a vast collection of original promotional merchandise that are given to customers during special occasions and events around the world.
“Tap-kun is influential in a sense that it can enable OSG to connect with a larger audience, not limited to just the manufacturing industry,” said Mizutani. “As the mother of Tap-kun, I’m very proud to see what he has become.”
Kanako Mizutani plays pool with Tap-kun at OSG’s Global Technology Center in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
Follow Tap-kun’s official Twitter account for his latest updates and whereabouts.