Making a name
How did the world’s favourite black-and-yellow brand start life?
Nikon hasn’t always been Nikon. In fact, Nikon Corporation as we know it is has only been around for about the past 30 years. When two of Japan’s leading optical manufacturers – the Optical Instruments Department of Tokyo Keiki Seisakusho and Reflecting Mirror Department of Iwaki Glass Manufacturing – merged on 25 July, 1917, with investment support from the President of Mitsubishi, Koyata Iwasaki, the company was known as Nippon Kogaku, K.K. (or ‘Japanese Optical Co.’).
WHAT’s in ANAME?
The Nikon brand name was established in 1946 – not as the name for the company, but for a camera. Nippon Kogaku K.K. execs were looking for a title for a new compact 35mm camera that they were planning to develop. It is said that, in a bid to capture the camera’s compactness while building
The Nikon brand name was established in 1946 – not for the company, but for a camera
on the ‘Nikko’ abbreviation of Nippon Kogaku, they considered the title ‘Nikorette’, which sounds perilously close to nicotine gum to us.
Concerned that Nikorette was too weak for a product for which it had major ambitions, the company instead decided to retain the ‘Nikko’ base but add an additional ‘N’ to give, as Nikon puts it, ‘a more masculine impression in the Japanese language’. The first camera to carry the Nikon name – the Nikon Model I – was launched in 1948, and is commemorated by a limited edition crystal version (above), which is available as part of Nikon’s 100th Anniversary collection.
A REPUTATION FOR RELIABILITY
Fast forward to 1988, and on 1 April Nippon Kogaku rebranded as the Nikon Corporation. Products bearing the Nikon name across various markets had built up a reputation for reliability and the company wanted to take advantage of this as it continued to develop as an international brand. The Nikon logo was redesigned to reflect the new branding.
Nikon 100th Anniversary Edition Crystal Creation Nikon camera model
The 100th Anniversary Pin Collection (far left) includes the original Nippon Kogaku logo. You can also buy Nikon 100th Anniversary Premium Camera Straps (left), as well as 100th Anniversary Editions of the D5, D500, Nikkor 70-200E and model Nikon F