What’s in a name:  The downfall of Westinghouse

 There was a time when Westinghouse was a synonym with American industrial might, rivaling the likes of General Electric. How are the mighty fallen! The company, now a unit at Toshiba, sought bankruptcy protection, citing $10 billion in debt.

As the technological market became more challenging, Westinghouse tried different strategies to stay relevant. It first bought CBS in 1995, entering broadcasting and lending the Westinghouse brand to everything from home appliances to solar panels. In 1999, it ditched all its other businesses to focus on nuclear reactors.

By the time CBS sold itself to Viacom, there was little left of Westinghouse but the name and the reactors. The nuclear bet was catastrophic. The simple, modular reactors it built never caught on, not to mention resistance by the public.

Identity is the most valuable asset for both an individual and a company. It is in permanent flux yet it has a constancy that makes it identifiable to others. Once a person or a firm becomes unrecognizable, bad things usually follow.

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