An international brand is a design, term, name, sign, symbol or a combination of all of them that distinguishes a corporation’s product or service that has the same quality globally. International branding aims at providing solutions to the needs of the prospective buyers in whatever geographical location while at the same time maintaining the unique attributes that distinguish it from the rest worldwide. As much as the quality must stay the same a few aspects like product names, products and services, product features, marketing mixes, corporate slogan and positioning may vary in different countries(Gregory, 2002. p. 35). The variations may be brought about by different communication styles, language differences, varying consumption patterns, varying legal and regulatory environments, different marketing approaches and other cultural differences among others.
Sony Corporation, widely known as Sony, is a multinational conglomerate and has its headquarters in Japan. It is recognized for the production of consumer electronics, video games, computer hardware, semiconductors, telecom equipment and media or entertainment. Their services include financial services, credit finance, advertising agency, banking and insurance. Initially the company name was Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, mostly used the acronym “Totsuko”, until they discovered that the name was hard to pronounce in America. The name, Sony, was derived from a Latin word for sound, sonus and also inspired from the Japanese slang, “sonny boys”, which implied smart and presentable young men as the founders considered themselves (Roll, 2006. p. 172).
In order to establish a global market base Sony has set up manufacturing industries worldwide. It deals with a number of products in a diversity of product lines globally. The company’s present slogan is “make.believe” focussing on communication. The Company’s new mantra; “One Sony” is intended to pull together resources to get the company’s monetary state back in order. It also uses celebrities to market their products.
Sony’s branding technique uses the company name to promote it. The brand name which is associated with sound serves an overall role in relating most of the company’s products and services to the brand. So many people can attribute to the fact that the mention of Sony creates a sound or video image in their heads (Roll, 2006. p. 175). The brand’s slogan combines the promotion of the entertainment and electronic products thus strengthening the brand name.
Most of their products are consumer oriented and the company owes its achievements on their ability to do things uniquely manifesting itself in the great products that consumers desire. Their innovations are part of the mainstream culture and they have a merging strategy that fuels industrial growth. The company has made large impacts on people’s lifestyles by driving the digital age into homes and businesses globally (Roll, 2006. p. 179). It is the third largest manufacturing company in the market of consumer electronics.
Building an established brand identity is a vital part when one is starting a new business or when seeking to expand an existing business or when one wants to penetrate the international markets. The brand serves as the only decisive factor when a consumer comes with into contact with a company’s product or service for the first time. This should not be confused with simple marketing since a lot is put into consideration when branding a company (Gregory, 2002. p. 67). This includes adverts through media, word-of-mouth and direct contact of the consumers with the products or services. Much of the branding entails designing logos, naming of the products and guaranteeing quality of the products and services is consistent during the course of the business.
A successful brand undergoes different stages. The initial stage is the discovery which encompasses an in depth analysis of the framework of the brand. One has to ensure that the brand is recognized by the consumers. This will include knowing the reasons as to why the brand is performing the way it is (Gelder, 2005. p. 98). Find out the consumers experience with the brand and if it has met any of their expectations. At this stage the consumers have to be assisted in knowing the product or service and it can be through advertisements and giving of free samples.
A brand that is familiar with the consumers stands a greater chance of being purchased. This has to be amplified with making the products or services unique. The unique feature makes the product different from those of other companies (Gelder, 2005. p. 103). This can be through physical changes so that the distinguishing factor can be the crowd puller.
A unique product or service can be given personality so as to make it acceptable to the consumer. Most consumers gain identity through consumption of some products or utilising services from a particular brand (Gelder, 2005. p. 115). If a company’s brand meets this demand then its success is guaranteed. At this stage it is the functional attribute of the brand that is tested and one has to stay creative since most manufacturers make similar choices.
At this stage the consumers already own the brand. The consumers have broad knowledge on the brand’s products and services. The consumers will assess the brand’s quality. At this stage the company should concentrate on whether the consumers trust the value of the brand. Great focus should be directed to the people that influence the purchase of the products or services in the market (Gelder, 2005. p. 126).
After the brand has become an icon the branding enters the post-marketing phase. At this level the brand’s multifaceted character experiences many points of contact between it and the purchaser. The company will assess how the consumers react to the product in the market when it exposed to competition from other companies’ products (Gregory, 2002. p. 134). A failure to hit the target at this level signals a quick solution which may employ some marketing strategies like price reductions and bonuses.
The final stage, which has been considered hard to reach by several companies, is where the customers endorse the brand. At this stage the brand is in line with social, ethical and to some extent political causes. This is a classic metric of whether the buyers have adequately consumed the brand’s products and services (Gelder, 2005. p. 198).
Sony is now at the decline stage. It is reported that since 2008 Sony hasn’t been making any profits. Sony’s market value is now one-ninth that of Samsung Electronics and just one-thirtieth of compared to that of Apple’s. Critics cite their inability to have produced a hit product in years as the major cause of its financial plunge. Sony has always been the leader in innovation. The current changes in technology network the world digitally make developing of products using hardware only difficult. For the Sony brand to be successful in future it has to adopt a strategy in which they handle the challenges associated with technology changes.
A good brand upholds the company’s integrity, maintains or creates an emotional bond within the prospective consumers, builds on the consumer’s loyalty, delivers the company’s message clearly and motivates the buyer. Most companies concentrate on brand development since they can charge top class prices for their products or services. The consumers are easily swayed to pay any price for a well-established brand since it generates a sense of belonging. Long term consistency of a brand builds its reputation since the returning customers will always refer other people to the brand. Branding is a great marketing tool especially for global brands.