Hitachi’s unusual look – distinction by design

Posted by on February 17, 2006

Hitachi makes some great power tools. They’re probably best known for their pneumatic products. Their plasti-tacker is almost an industry standard for roofing. In an effort to stand out from the pack, they’ve recently changed the styling of their products. The latest product to get a facelift is their EC79 pancake air compressor.

More safety styled into the design
Hitachi isn’t just following the pack and doing what’s worked for everyone else. They decided to take innovation in power tools into the fashion realm and use the styling of tennis shoes on their tools. But they also saw a way to use this style to do something else unique. They are able style in safety and durability.

Instead of having the motor and pump sitting on top and exposed, the stylized additions actually cover these essential pieces and protect both the compressor and the user. Sure, the style is something that’ll make you look twice, but it won’t be to make sure you’re not touching a hot surface. You’ll be looking to either admire the look or question the sanity of the designer.

Bold look AND serious performance
Hitachi has some of the best air tools on the market today. Their NR90AD clipped head nailer has a great reputation on the job site. With the racing flames on the newest models, they’re sure to turn heads as well. I don’t normally care what a tool looks like, but when it’s a high quality product with a cool look that’s a huge bonus. Air tools don’t have to be boring, and Hitachi certainly took that to an extreme level.

They also make a mean siding nailer as well as a nice fencing nailer, but those are still waiting to meet with their make-up artists. I’m sure that the rest of the line will be seeing the plastic surgeon soon enough. It’s all about branding and consistency in look. Nobody else makes a tool looks anything like this, so the Hitachi brand will get more recognition just because it’s recognizable.

Interesting marketing strategy
It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for other manufacturers to take a bold look and how the public receives these striking new tools. The nailers have been doing well, but the compressors look much less like a conventional compressor.

Will the look become as important as the product’s function? I certainly hope that the American public is smarter than that. However, I do agree with Hitachi that power tools could use a makeover. There are way too many of the flat surfaced chrome tools and not nearly enough manufacturers that are willing to invest some money in designing the outside along with the inside. This style will be much easier to spot as the one that other guy was using when you get to the tool store, so it may be an absolutely brilliant move. Only time will tell, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to watch.

3 Responses to Hitachi’s unusual look – distinction by design

  1. Anonymous

    Brian, do you really think the “rough and tumble” construction worker gives a rip about what the cosmetic look of the tool is? Doesn’t everybody want performance? It can look good all it wants, but does it get the job done?

  2. Brian Mark

    No, I don’t think it’s something that will be a selling point by itself. But from a branding perspective, it’s a great move. Is it more memorable as a green tool or as the one with green flames? Their old compressors looked similar to Rol-Air from a distance, but this one won’t be confused with those at all.

    If they’re trying to get people who are on the jobsite to know what it is they have, or so others at the jobsite recognize it when they go to pick up a tool, then distinction is a very necessary change. I know several people that have bought tools by color in the past (Red, Yellow, etc.) and didn’t get what they wanted. Making them unique looking should avoid that confusion for the end user and make their styling a valuable commodity.

    Given the number of customers we have that come in to the store and say they need nails for their gun and have no idea what that gun is, making it memorable should help some of these guys know what type of nailer they’ve got. That should also help with brand loyalty if they’re happy with the product.

    One last point : if it were truly performance that mattered to most people, there would be quite a different mix of products sold through our store. Most of our contractors tend to buy what they’ve seen someone else using and not what is going to actually work the best. So yes, the look does matter in that sense.

  3. carpenter from vancouver

    Mr. anonymus should realize that “rough and tumble” worker only care how to f.up faster and get his cheque into a money mart and afther into a liquer store.
    Any PROFESSIONAL wouldn’t even dream to make a bad comment when is about HITACHI tools.
    They can only say RESPECT and thanx to heaven for hitachi.
    sory about my bed english