Of course, Tesla wants to make and sell electric cars (it exists to make a profit, theoretically), but in order to do that on a large scale, the company needs to move past the niche markets that the Model S currently plays in. They need the public to stop thinking of them as electric cars and to start thinking of them simply as cars.
“Line has become part of the communications infrastructure,” said Kenichi Sugai, a technology analyst at Speeda, a financial information platform based in Tokyo. “Now it’s in a global race to win over users and to convince them this is what messaging should be.”
The task falls to a handful of top designers in Tokyo, led by Naotomo Watanabe, who create all types of stickers for Line users. Line says each design is backed up with painstaking research of the languages, customs and even slang used in each market.
For Islamic cultures, the team gleaned that a major messaging opportunity exists around Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. So Mr. Watanabe’s team designed apps of Brown the bear breaking the fast and exchanging good wishes with Cony the rabbit.
American users tend to prefer stickers that leave no space for misinterpretation, according to Mr. Watanabe. So smiles are wide, and stickers are often accompanied by captions like “Awesome!” and “Great job!”
By contrast, in Japan, Line offers characters with smiles, half-smiles and barely there smiles, he said. “Our American colleagues asked us: What’s the point of a half-smile?” Mr. Watanabe said. “It’s difficult to express in words. That’s why we use stickers.”