Names and Brands

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What is a Brand?

"Our biggest asset is four letters: S-O-N-Y."
Norio Ohga, Chairman of the Board, Sony Corporation

For your brand development efforts to succeed in today's dynamic and fiercely competitive markets, it is crucial to understand the relationship between names and brands.


As has been said about other world-class brands, if all of Sony's other assets disappeared in a flash, it could begin to rebuild instantly on the strength of its powerful brand. The name, however, is not the brand. Those four letters, derived from the Latin sonus, for sound, and the name of the company's flagship transistor radio, are an invaluable brand asset because they now represent something distinctive and meaningful. No matter how extensively the company diversifies, the name Sony boldly and simply signals, to a global audience, a brand promise of ingenuity and high standards.

Metaphor defines brand as the essential distinguishing characteristics that differentiate one company, product, or service from another company, product, or service. In a competitive marketplace, a nexus of brand attributes and associations creates a certain set of expectations -- promises to be delivered on -- in the hearts and minds of the company's or product's various audiences. Successful brand-building begins and ends with communication of that promise.

What constitutes a brand is ultimately defined and supported by an organization's leadership and internal culture, by the quality of and benefits offered by its products and services, and by how it responds to new or changing customer and marketplace needs. A meaningful brand provides a company with direction and clarity of purpose and offers customers, partners, employees, and the financial community a reason to prefer it to others. To signal what a company or product represents, a brand has to clearly convey believable brand attributes and relevant associations in a language both verbal and visual.

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