In this post, Paul talks about brands and what they mean, or maybe what they used to mean.
As companies get bought and sold to larger conglomerates, things usually don’t get better, especially in high end audio. See Altec, Urei, Advent, JBL, Mark Levinson, Krell and a host of other high end audio companies. Some, like Audio Research, Sonus Faber and REL might be better, but I’m not sure about that.
What happens to brands?
Brands come and go, just like people. And, like people, they have personalities reflecting their raison d’être.
Most brands are formed by entrepreneurs passionate enough about something to take a chance and put everything on the line for it.
But, at some point, these brands can become commodities, bought and sold like a head of lettuce. When that happens they lose their original soul and become something entirely different. That’s not necessarily bad, though it’s almost never the same.
Take JBL for example. The first pair of high-end loudspeakers I ever heard were a pair of JBL corner horns. So good were these sonic wonders it changed the course of my life forever. Yet, go find a pair of new JBL home speakers you could say the same about today.
Millions of musicians and car owners know a different JBL than the one I grew up with, and appreciate it on an entirely different level. Or hate it.
Brands represent their owner’s purpose. Wally Amos wanted to impress friends with the quality of his Famous Amos cookies; I am certain they were pretty tasty.
The current owner of Famous Amos cookies, Kellogs, is more interested in numbers than quality or taste; and their product reflects this.
When you’re interested in buying into a brand, look behind the curtain to see who is pulling the levers.