At least it’s a step in the right direction. Sony is unveiling a “Sony Experience” in 350 Best Buy locations in the US.
I say it’s a good start because, in that article, I argued that Sony’s major problem was that the parent brand of Sony lost its meaning when it became a house of brands. I argued that Sony needed to work on its umbrella brand and the re-emergence of its products would follow.
The “experience” will allow consumers to interact with TVs, media players and sound systems within a home-theater experience, using touchscreen technology. The idea is that the shopper will see the full breadth of the Sony product line.
This is nothing new, of course. The Apple Stores are famous for allowing customers to try out its products, but it’s still a smart move by Sony to present itself as a complete company rather than a list of products.
I’m assuming here, of course, that Sony presents the experience correctly. If the individual products become the heroes, then it won’t work. Sony has to be the hero.
Sony is just the most visible example of what happens when companies get too wrapped up into focusing on products rather than on the parent brand. People assume they can go the Proctor & Gamble route, where each product is its own brand and most consumers don’t even know they are P&G products.
But you can only do that if 1) You outspend your competition in advertising and 2) your competition also ignores their parent brands. In the case of Sony, the Apples of the world have out-branded Sony, so to speak, and that’s why Sony has become irrelevant as a brand. Also, if you focus on the products themselves, especially in the technological arena, you are constantly fighting the battle over innovation.
We have worked with companies in this same dilemma. In a B2B market, we had a client with several thousand different products – all of them branded. It was crazy, and preference was only obtained when the umbrella brand became most important (and the products were re-named as descriptors).
The Sony Experience is the first step in the once-proud technological giant’s attempt to regain its importance. But there is still a lot of work to do because Sony has put itself in a hole it’s been digging for years.