Digital revolution? Take it as red

Pioneer's new logo marks its rebirth, writes Roger Trapp

THE DECISION by Pioneer, the Japanese electronics company, to abandon its 60-year heritage and familiar image in favour of a new strategy and a fresh identity must be ranked as brave.

Since being founded as an audio products manufacturer in 1938, the company has acquired a worldwide reputation in such areas as hi-fi, car stereos and, latterly, navigation systems. But its executives say that the arrival of the digital age necessitates a change in focus.

Pioneer had already made strides in this direction - taking a lead in the introduction of the digital versatile disc (DVD) and the plasma displays that are central to the development of flat, high-definition television screens. But, according to Masao Kawabata, managing director of the UK operation, "half-measures and incremental improvement are not enough to win in the competitive market of digital convergence".

Accordingly, as part of the company's "Vision 2005" programme, Pioneer has just launched a new logo: it is red instead of blue, and consists of its name rather than the Omega tuning fork that was introduced in 1969.

In future, the company will focus on the two core technologies of DVD and plasma display, and it will move away from selling stand-alone products to supplying networked systems that combine its set-top boxes, optical disc/DVD and plasma products.

With a simultaneous effort to push for features that make the systems easier to use - such as voice recognition to operate products in homes and cars - the company is also looking to build on its traditional strength in home entertainment to benefit from such developments as home banking and home shopping.

Shungo Minato, chairman and managing director of the Belgium-based European arm, said the change was a symbol of the company's commitment to digital technology over the analogue products that have served it well in the past.

Claiming that this was a "make-or-break situation" for an electronics company, Mr Kawabata added that the new logo was a demonstration to the 20,000 employees - as well as suppliers, customers and retailers - of Pioneer's seriousness about its change in direction.

As "brand ambassador", he has plenty of explanations for the choice of logo - red symbolising commitment to technological brilliance and enjoyment, and the slant of the lettering indicating speed.

He also claims that the timing is ideal; DVD and plasma are reaching critical points in their development, and the Japanese calendar suggests that the 60th anniversary is a propitious time for rebirth.

More rationally, no company can expect to be a leading player in all of the technologies emerging in this area. Pioneer is seeking to double turnover by 2005 from the current $4.2bn (pounds 2.6bn) to nearly $9bn, largely by gaining 15 per cent of the plasma market and 20 per cent of the DVD market.

One of the first products to carry the new logo in Europe is a 50-inch screen that Pioneer claims is both the world's largest and highest-definition plasma display. It sells for pounds 10,000 in Japan, but Mr Minato insists it will become affordable in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the company - which makes the world's only combined DVD/laser disc/CD player - claims that DVD is "already a big hit with both business and consumers".

With more products available in this area than its competitors, Pioneer is confident of establishing a strong position in the US with a product that has outsold the CD player tenfold.

"We've spent 20 years developing optical discs rather than videotape technology, and now we are in a prime position to capitalise on the doors it is opening in the DVD market," said Mr Kawabata.

A lot is clearly riding on how enthusiastic consumers turn out to be about turning their living rooms into home cinemas.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine