Sony has one of the most instantly recognizable and most popular logos in the world. Even so, the Sony logo has gone through various modifications throughout its history.
It stands for the company’s name, coined from the Latin word for sound “Sonus.” Sony is also linked to “son,” a term in Japanese culture that alludes to young folks with an innovative view of things. Moreover, the words “sonny” and “sunny” greatly inspired the original Sony emblem, which was trademarked in 1957. But the Sony logo only started appearing on Sony’s products in 1957.
More commonly called Sony, Sony Corporation is a world-famous Japanese technology conglomerate headquartered in Tokyo. It’s one of the largest manufacturers of electronic goods and motion pictures. It’s also one of the biggest financial services providers and employs over 162,700 people worldwide.
As of 2012, Sony had total assets worth ¥13.29 trillion and was placed 87th on that year’s list of the world’s Fortune 500 companies.
History and Evolution of the Sony Logo
The Sony logo has had quite a rich history, including six redesigns, though only the initial two versions were quite different from the classic logotype we all know today.
The first-ever Sony logo was designed in 1946 and remained the brand’s visual identity for over ten years. It was a circular monochrome badge with a black abstract geometric shape against a white background.
This geometric figure was made of an upside-down trapezoid connected to a rhombus at the bottom. The result of that was something that looked like a stylish car badge and appeared modern and ashy.
Sony first redesigned its logo in 1955. The sharp and solid logo made way for a smooth but modern and stylish logotype, enclosed in a vertically-leaning rectangular frame. The logotype was handwritten, and the “S” was elongated to touch both the top and bottom of the frame, while “Y’s” tail touched the bottom of the frame.
The Sony logo was redesigned for the second time in 1957. The emblem was a bold black logotype in a contemporary rounded serif font with the uppercase letters stretched. The huge serifs were rounded and elongated at their tips, adding unique individuality and character to the wordmark.
1961 — 1962
The wordmark was refined in 1961. The letters got taller and got more air and space between one another. The serifs decreased in size but were still very visible and smooth.
1962 — 1969
In 1962, the font of the wordmark was altered again–the serifs and horizontal lines were straightened to appear stronger and sharper. The contours got a little thinner and more stylish, adding a classic style to the entire logo and working nicely with a monochrome pattern, which has remained the brand’s visual identity.
1969 — 1973
In 1969, the letters became slightly stretched again, and the serifs gained rounded corners like in the original logotype version of 1957 but a little shorter. This logotype was more harmonized and balanced than all previous versions, evoking a sense of confidence and professionalism.
1973 — Present
The 1973 redesign brought a refined and modernized version of the wordmark to the visual identity of Sony. The serifs are again straight, and the bold contours are solid and neat. The current Sony logo uses the font known as Clarendon Medium.
To mark Sony’s 35th birthday in 1981, there was a suggestion within the company to unveil a new visual identity. Although Sony received ideas from all around the world, company co-founder Masaru Ibuka wasn’t impressed by any of the designs and therefore decided to keep the current logo that was designed in 1973.
Sony Logo Design Elements
Shape: The present Sony logo version comprises a simple logotype that was unveiled in 1959. Some branding experts say that the logotype communicates simplicity and strength.
The logotype has undergone several minor modifications throughout its history, mostly based on the recommendations of the ex-Sony president and chairman Norio Ohga. Most of these alterations were done under the stewardship of Sony chief of design Akio Morita and designer Yasuo Kuroki.
Sony adopted its current slogan “Make Believe” in 2009.
Color: The Sony logo uses black, which symbolizes integrity, perfection, elegance, and the brand’s illustrious history.
Font: Sony’s logo uses a slightly modified version of the Clarendon font.
The History of Sony
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Sony Corporation is a world-famous multinational conglomerate. Its diversified business consists of industrial and consumer electronics, entertainment, gaming, and financial services.
Sony owns the world’s biggest music entertainment business, the world’s biggest gaming console business, as well as one of the biggest gaming publishing businesses. It’s also one of the biggest manufacturers of electronics for the professional and consumer markets and a major force in the TV and film entertainment industry.
In 2018, Sony was placed 97th on the list of the world’s Fortune 500 companies.
Sony was established after the Second World War in Tokyo in 1946 as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka. The company began with just over $1,500 (less than ¥200,000) and started researching.
Within a year, the company unveiled a power megaphone as its first-ever product. In 1950, it introduced the first tape recorder in Japan.
Sony Goes Global
Sony’s TR-63 radio opened up the United States market and established the new consumer microelectronics industry. By 1955, many American teenagers had started purchasing portable transistor radios, helping to catapult the burgeoning industry from about 100,000 units to around 5 million units in late 1968.
In 1960, one of the company’s founders Akio Morita, established Sony Corporation in the United States. In the process, the mobility of staff between American companies struck him as this wasn’t happening in Japan at the time.
When Morita returned home, he encouraged experienced middle-aged workers of other firms to re-assess their career options and consider working for Sony. Sony filled many positions this way and inspired other companies in the country to do similar.
Furthermore, Sony played a crucial role in Japan’s rise as a major exporter throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It also significantly improved the appeal of Japanese products in the American market. Known for its quality products, Sony could charge above-market rates for its consumer electronic goods and resisted the temptation to lower prices.
In 1971, Sony co-founder Akio Morita succeeded fellow co-founder Masaru Ibuka as president of the company. In 1979, Sony started a life insurance firm, one of its numerous subsidiary businesses.
The world’s economy experienced a recession in the early 1980s. Amid this, electronic sales dipped, and Sony was forced to slash prices. Sony’s profits dropped so dramatically that some analysts even went as far as predicting the company’s end. Others said that the firm’s best days were behind it. This was around the time Norio Ohga became Sony’s president.
Ohga encouraged the creation of the CD in the 1970s to 1980s and the PlayStation at the start of the 1990s. In 1988, he bought CBS records and followed it up a year later with Columbia Pictures, significantly expanding Sony’s media footprint. In 1989, Ohga succeeded Morita as CEO.
Thanks to the vision of Akio Morita and those who succeeded him, Sony had aggressively branched out into new ventures. Part of its inspiration for expansion was the quest for “convergence,” connecting digital electronics, film, and music through the internet. The expansion proved unprofitable and unrewarding, threatening its ability to charge higher prices for its products.
In 2005, Nobuyuki Idei was replaced as CEO by Howard Stringer, making it the first time a foreigner ran a large Japanese electronics company. Stringer helped to revitalize the firm’s struggling media businesses, helping release blockbusters like Spiderman while laying off over 9,000 employees.
He wanted to sell off secondary businesses and focus Sony again on electronic goods. Moreover, he tried to improve cooperation between various subsidiary businesses, which he branded “silos” operating independently of each other. To have a united brand for its worldwide operations, Sony unveiled its “Make Believe” slogan in 2009.
Despite several successes, Sony continually struggled in the mid-2000s to late-2000s. It trod water, and its brand name started to fade. In 2012, Howard Stringer was replaced as president and CEO by Kazuo Hirai.
Shortly after his promotion, Hirai outlined his vision—a company-wide initiative dubbed “One Sony” that aimed to revitalize the company from years of ineffective bureaucratic management structure and financial losses, which proved a bridge too far for Stringer, in part due to differences in native languages and business culture between Stringer and some Sony divisions and subsidiaries in Japan.
Hirai outlined three key areas Sony’s electronics business would focus on, which included mobile technology, gaming, and imaging, and efforts to reduce the significant losses suffered by the television business.
Sony’s Original Products
Sony boasts an excellent track record of introducing new technologies. In 1955, the company introduced the first transistor radio in Japan, the TR-55. Shortly afterward, the company introduced a mobile transistor radio. A few years later, in 1960, Sony launched the first direct-view mobile TV in the world, the TV8-301.
The firm continued upgrading the TV and two years later manufactured the smallest all-transistor TV. Sony launched the Handycam, an 8mm, easy-to-use, and portable camcorder. In 2003, the firm released the first-ever Blu-ray disc player in the world. Two years later, Sony updated the Handycam, creating the smallest video camera in the world known as the High Definition Handycam.
The Walkman was arguably Sony’s most influential product and was first launched in 1979. The tiny, lightweight pocket-size tape player changed how one listened to music, making it a personal and individual experience instead of a shared one.
In 1984, Sony built on that initial success by releasing the company’s first pocket-size CD player, the Discman. The company’s dominance waned as CDs and tapes were phased out in favor of digital music, but the influence of Walkman is still seen in today’s mobile devices.
Media and Content
Sony is also an influential player in the film and music industries via Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music divisions. In 1989, Sony bought filmmaker Columbia Studios, including the rights to its movie catalog, making Sony Pictures an instant success in the industry.
The two Sony divisions symbolize more than the company’s diversification as they form part of a calculated corporate strategy. Being in control of its own content guaranteed that Sony’s technological inventions would never be held back by lack of support in the industry, as Blu-ray’s success over the competition’s HD-DVD player would prove.
Video Game Success
Rivals Sega and Nintendo revived the gaming console industry at the end of the 1980s, following the spectacular fall from the grace of early pioneers like Atari. Sensing an opportunity for a new competitor with superior technical expertise and deep pockets, Sony created a new division known as Computer Entertainment to exploit this niche in 1993. Its PlayStation range of gaming consoles and its mobile variants have become reliable money spinners for the company.
Sony’s Present and Future
By March 2013, there were over 146,000 Sony employees all over the world. In March 2014, the firm’s year-end revenue was more than $7.5 billion, with a loss of more than $1.2 billion during the same period.
Much of the loss resulted from the firm’s decision to wind up its struggling PC manufacturing business, continued price pressure from cheaper competitors in its video and audio divisions, and underwhelming sales of smartphones.
Sony’s gaming division, mobile communications division, Sony Pictures division, and imaging-products division remain very strong, providing most of the firm’s projected revenue increase for 2015.
Final Word on the History of Sony
Sony is a world-renowned Japanese technology conglomerate founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita in 1946. It’s one of the biggest producers of multimedia and electronics. It produces records, household appliances, and digital devices, as well as provides financial services.
Sony’s other businesses include pictures, music, online companies, and computer entertainment.
The Sony Corporation is made up of Sony Pictures, Sony Music, Sony Mobile, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony Financial Holdings, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and many others. Sony and the Sony logo is one of the most recognized brands in the world.