Case Study – Playstation
A Brief History of PlayStation
In the late 1980’s Nintendo was top dog in the video gaming industry and Sony were not remotely interested in jumping on the bandwagon. That was until Ken Kutaragi, one of their digital lab researchers saw his daughter playing a video game and realised the potential in gaming.
It’s true to say that Sony were hostile to the idea of going down the video game route, and when they discovered Kutaragi had designed and developed the SPC700 sound chip in secret for Nintendo, they understandably hit the roof.
However, Sony’s CEO Norio Ohga, helped Kutaragi and while working with Nintendo, he managed to persuade Sony to fund his research. This research resulted in the birth of the 'Play Station', which was launched in 1994.
The success of the PlayStation led to Kutaragi heading up subsequent development on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3.
The PlayStation Brand
The PlayStation logo was conceptualised in 1994, which resulted in over three dozen concepts being put forward for selection. Shortened to just the initials PS, the iconic logo is made up of four colours which symbolise joy, passion and excellence. It was designed by Manabu Sakamoto, a Japanese designer, who had also worked on other logos for Sony. Sakamoto also designed the custom typeface used in the PS logo.
This strong logo has carried the PlayStation brand to global success, and is now one of the most recognised logos in the world. Changing little in over 20 years from its initial concept, the strength of the PlayStation brand has outstripped even the Sony brand itself, with the product becoming bigger than the company who created it. So much so, that PlayStation as a brand now dwarfs all Sony’s other operations and is easily the most important part of the business.
So why is this? Sony has been a major producer of electronics such as cameras, TV’s and music players since the mid 1940’s, and while they still produce these goods, none are as instantly recognisable as a PlayStation. The truth is, Sony have kept pushing PlayStation forward with new technology, new generations of consoles and strong branding. Their marketing and advertising pushes the boundaries and keeps the brand in the public eye. Whereas, if you examine what happened with another of Sony’s global successes, the Sony Walkman in the 1980’s, the failure to keep up with changing technology led to the demise of the product, and therefore the brand too. The Walkman as a brand was strong enough to have carried the next generation of music players on to further success, music players like the iPod, which Apple cornered the market with. There was nothing wrong with the Walkman brand, Sony just didn’t move on with technology.
So, with PlayStation’s brand pillars of being Emotive, Immersive, Irreverent, Celebratory, Unexpected and Fearless, they describe themselves as "the gold standard gaming brand" and because of this, their future success is assured as long as they keep pushing the boundaries of technology.