English Names for Japanese Products, by Laura Miller

Former Sony chairman Akio Morita is known in the U.S as the co-founder of the Sony corporation. His English language memoir Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony was popular in American business circles in the 1980s. But Morita was not a scholar or historian, and many of the assertions he made in the book were corporate mythology packaged for a foreign audience.
One claim he made that was not historically accurate relates to the creation of the company’s name. The executive said that he needed to explain to fellow Japanese why the name Sony should be written in the Latin alphabet, and that it was the first Latin alphabet brand in Japan. However, from the Meiji era (1868-1912) on Japanese products have carried English brand names.
An example is this advertisement for unisex hair coloring called The Nice. Another famous brand was launched in 1896 by the Kobayashi company. Lion tooth powder was written in both the Latin script and the Japanese phonetic katakana script as ライオン (raion). It was exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition) where it received an honorary silver medal.