Photo: Yum9me via Flickr
Sony has been left behind by the “tech parade” and hasn’t turned a profit since 2008, according to a recent report by Hiroko Tabuchi at the New York Times. Tabuchi says it’s because the company hasn’t had a hit product in years. Yet, while the lack of innovation is a serious problem for Sony, there’s one other glaring issue: the brand.
“Sony is an example of what happens when a company falls blindly in love with its brand,” writes Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, at Building Strong Brands.
“Sony uses its brand on all sorts of products: televisions, cameras, computers, music players, digital book readers and toys. In a remarkable move, several years back Sony decided to use the brand on a movie studio and on a music label. Sony’s high-end products carry the Sony brand. The low-end products carry the Sony brand, too.”
These moves all weaken the Sony brand — not strengthen it. That’s because every time it comes out with a new product and slaps the Sony logo on it, it waters the brand down. Sony has lost its meaning. Now, it’s nothing more than “electronics,” instead of something more specific.
This helps explain why Sony hasn’t had a hit product in so long, aside from the Playstation (which, like the fabled Walkman of days long gone, does have its own strong unique brand). Plus, because of its diminished brand it’s becoming harder for Sony to charge the same premium it used to for its products.
What does Sony have to do to get out of the bog it created for itself? Sea-Jin Chang, chairman for business policy at the National University of Singapore and author of “Sony vs. Samsung,” explained to the NYT:
“At this point, Sony just needs some strategy, any strategy, because that is better than no strategy at all.”
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