How Did Hello Kitty Become One of the Biggest Media Franchises of All Time?

Photo Courtesy: Yuko Shimizu, original designer of Hello Kitty, and her character. Credit: Georges Seguin (Okki)/Wikimedia Commons; Sanrio

In 2024, Hello Kitty will celebrate her 50th birthday, which is impressive in its own right. However, in addition to being an enduring icon since her inception in 1974, the adorable Japanese cartoon character has launched a multi-billion dollar franchise, second only to Pokémon as one of the most popular media franchises of all time.

Now, Hello Kitty has her own jets and hotels — in addition to an endless flow of merchandise. But how did Hello Kitty go from a cute cartoon to a global phenomenon? We’re taking a deep dive into her origin story.