Apr 10

Sony shoots its brand in the foot

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a Sony Vaio enthusiast. However, I do have a general sense of the Vaio brand. Right or wrong, my perception is that Vaio represents much of what’s good in the PC world — solid PCs with a sense of style.

This, of course, is the power of a brand. A good one gives even outsiders like myself a sense of its positives. That’s a very valuable thing.

But last week the Vaio brand was suddenly attacked — by none other than Sony itself.

The company has announced that it’s going to split the Vaio laptop line into Division One and Division Two. (Maybe Sony was that impressed with Microsoft’s Kin One and Kin Two?) Laptops from Division One will be designed and built by Sony. Laptops from Division Two will be designed and built by other manufacturers.

Say again?

Not to worry, says the deputy president of the Vaio business group. The design of those non-Sony Vaios will still be approved by Sony. Therefore, they will have “a taste of Vaio” and “the style of Vaio.” This structure will allow Sony to perfect its new technology in Division One, then pass the know-how over to Division Two.

As it was explained, this dual-division approach is more efficient than creating a new brand, and less of an investment. It is for the sake of the customer that Sony is “enhancing the identity of Vaio more and more.”

Ah, I get it. Sony will be enhancing the identity of Vaio by renting out the name to other manufacturers, and by putting the Vaio logo on machines they don’t even build. Clever.

Not that Sony has demonstrated tremendous branding brains in recent years, but this move seems to defy logic. If the company is that determined to create a tier of lower-cost Vaios, you’d think they’d have the resources to simply build it themselves.

It’s pretty basic: if Vaio represents Sony’s PC goodness, it can’t simultaneously represent a handful of other manufacturers as well. This is a move made by efficiency experts, not marketing experts.

Tags: , , ,

  • I for one am happy to see Sony dilute their brand. I have never thought their products lived up to the perception, nor represented good value.

  • Koen

    It’s like a reverse toyota-lexus setup….

    Maybe the Sony brand was too good and they need to bring it down to the same level as other brands.

  • Iulian

    David, have you ever heard of the PlayStation3?