Building a brand without the correct permissions is like a house of cards. Inevitably, it will fall. The importance of permissions is that they determine boundaries. What does the consumer give the brand permission to say about them? What permission do consumers grant the brand when making claims about a product? These are questions that messaging must address and, if they do not, then a brand has failed to create meaning nor created preference.
I again reference the rumored Playstation Phone. I am a technology buff and, in following gadgets on the up-and-coming, I have seen an occasional article about the rumored phone from Sony that combines the Ericsson phone line and the Playstation brand.
My recent thoughts on the phone began last night when I came across an article on a tech blog that highlighted new leaked photos. I realized how inconsequential the phone was by the fact that the simple mouse click to “see more” seemed a bit too much work for the payoff. I have seen random articles float around about the Playstation phone in the blogosphere. But only once or twice have I seen them make it all the way to a news source. Juxtapose that to the iPhone coming to Verizon, a rumor that has been ongoing for over a year now and which seems to have its very own permanent section on the tech page of all news organizations.
The difference between the a Playstation phone and the iPhone is that Apple’s iPhone is backed by a powerful brand and a well-versed knowledge of their brand permissions. That is not true for Sony. To look deeper into Sony’s permission issues, just look at the name. Would any businessmen ever buy a phone called the “Playstation Phone”? Just think of the conversation at work…
“Hi Bill, did you get my email about the recent merger figures?” ask’s Bill’s boss.
Bill pulls out his new Playstation phone. Bill’s boss eyes Bill’s new phone
“What is that?” asks Bill’s boss
“Oh, its my PLAYSTATION phone” Bill replies.
Bill might as well have said he was using a phone he built with his tinker-toys.
For any business professional, other than one working in the gaming industry, Sony does not have permission to sell a phone under the Playstation brand. It only has connotations to gaming. It could be that Sony is only interested in the gaming market. But if that is the case, its scope might be a bigger problem than the name. It could be true that professionals enjoy gaming, but image matters and perception is reality. Sony needs to be sure that, pending their rumored phone buzz being true, it takes a good look at the permissions of its target consumer to be sure its message resonates with the consumer belief system.
The primary permission issue for Sony is that it has led with the sub-brand of Playstation when it is the parent brand of Sony that has permission to release a product that speaks to a tech savvy professional. While leading with the Playstation brand might make gamers rejoice, it does little to excite the larger consumer market.
The Playstation phone would not be the first attempt at a phone focused on gaming. Just look at Nokia’s attempt with the N-Gage. Sony will need to be cog nascent of what its consumers will accept or any future realization of a Playstation phone will see the current lack interest remain.