How to Announce Nothing

(news and commentary)

Here's the wording of the press release: 

"PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD has today announced that it is changing its company name to RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD, effective from August 1, 2013. In addition, the company has also unveiled its future product brand strategy: both PENTAX and RICOH products will remain in the market under the new name to reinforce the company’s commitment to the business with Pentax becoming the brand for all DSLR, interchangeable lens cameras and binoculars, and Ricoh becoming its brand for compact camera and new technological innovations."

Uh, okay, what? 

As far as I can see, Ricoh is still confused. They bought Pentax. Okay. They merged the Pentax camera groups with the existing Ricoh camera groups. Okay. That still left them with a branding issue. The Pentax name is well known in photography, dating all the way back to the Asahi Pentax usage in the early film SLR era. The Ricoh name in photography is mostly unknown outside Japan, and even then mostly only for the GR series cameras. 

So today Ricoh has announced that all the company names will have Ricoh Imaging in them (i.e. all the subsidiaries, including the previously Pentax manufacturing plant in Vietnam). But the cameras. Well, DSLRs will be branded Pentax, compacts will be branded Ricoh. 

Uh, doesn't that mean they still have a branding issue? Worse still, with the compact camera market quickly dying off, the corporate name is the brand used on the smallest likely surviver in terms of consumer product. 

Ricoh has been doing this re-branding thing in very small increments since purchasing Pentax. Rip the bandaid off, folks. If this about making Ricoh a camera maker known worldwide, just drop the Pentax brand. Something tells me we'll get there, but so far the progress has been excruciating. After all, everyone knows that a Sony Alpha DSLR is really the progeny of Konica/Minolta, which is really the progeny of Minolta. So just make the Ricoh K DSLRs, guys. 

Meanwhile, these press releases simply don't have any traction in the consumer's mind. The shame is that both Ricoh and Pentax make good camera products. The problem here is that so far that's not becoming more than the sum of the parts, it's still just parts.   

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