I have written quite extensively on SONY in the past. The venerable old brand interests me and I try to keep up with the changes they seem to institute on an almost daily basis. The latest news is from Masashi Imamura.
What amazes me is that SONY still clings to a failed model that says the secret to new successes will be found on the corporate spreadsheets. It is as if SONY thinks their problem sits solely in how it manages its P&L.
Now, don’t get me wrong, to be competitive companies need to make sure they are in a position to compete. They need to make sure they can squeeze every drop of profit from everything it sells but an 18.5% gain in TV sales is about market preference NOT reduced costs.
SONY’s problem is that the SONY brand does not excite the preference it once did. If they wish to grow share they need to have more arrows in their quiver than just better pricing. They need to excite consumer preference.
You can measure a brand’s value by how much over the lowest priced competitors pricing (for similar products) your products command in the market. There was a time that SONY had such value but those days are not past. (Read some additional thoughts on SONY’s troubles here)
Is this the fate of all market leading companies that they are doomed to slip out of preference over time? Only if they stop defending their brand and translating it into a meaningful and emotionally relevant reason to prefer it.
NIKE seems to be doing just fine. Apple is doing well despite a lack of new product innovation and there seems to be no end to Google’s domination of the search engines space.
SONY has simply failed to rebrand in a meaningful way. We are not talking about a new brand name here. Rebranding means changing the value that the market associated with the trademark. Will SONY emerge and win? Not if they continue to think their problem is one that can be solved in accounting.