The Real Value of Award-Winning…

August 17, 2018

The Real Value of Award-Winning...

Lately, after being approached to enter SONA for some awards, it’s got us thinking here at SONA HQ – how valuable and useful is an award to us and our customers? Yes, being an ‘award winning’ company has a nice ring to it, but does it actually mean anything? Does it give a true reflection of our capabilities and skill?

When companies can nominate themselves for an award and immediately be ‘shortlisted’ – then win simply on the number of votes they accrue, from colleagues and friends who they socialise with – surely this is more a popularity contest?

So how is an award a true reflection of a company’s technical design and engineering proficiency, and at what point does it become relevant for your home technology project when you’re looking for a technology partner ? This discussion prompted us to look at awards in the home technology industry, and really evaluate which ones (in our opinion) had any merit.


AWARD WINNING – Does this mean anything to a customer or to other industry professionals?

As a customer, the term ‘award winning’ could be deceiving.  It may appear that the company you are dealing with are in fact, the best, or at the very least at the top of their field.

Spending so much of our time recently undoing and redoing home technology systems in Cheshire, London and the UK that have been poorly designed, installed and executed, we urge home-owners and professionals such as developers and interior designers to dig a little deeper in to the experience and expertise of the companies you shortlist to deliver your system.

In the spirit of being entirely open and honest, here is SONA’s stance and approach to awards….

We strive to BE THE BEST.  Not appear to be the best.  We have (and continue to aim for) a solid, untarnished reputation and very happy clients – to have ‘award winning’ projects is of course a nice cherry on top, but only if the award is respected by experts and peers in the industry, and gives a true indication of our competence.

The only awards we enter, are judged by the most knowledgeable experts in the industry and are compared with the impeccable work of companies world-wide using a quantifiable set of standards.


Award Winning Home Technology

The home technology market has become a crowded place in recent years, with the number of companies claiming to offer solutions increasing at a seemingly exponential rate. With the number of these providers advertising their ‘award-winning’ services, it would seem that the sector is awash with companies whose services and systems are so fantastic that awards are free-flowing, and you would imagine this can only be a good thing for the client…

In this congested marketplace, technology providers are constantly looking at ways to differentiate themselves from their competition and stand out from the crowd, and those who have awards are obviously keen to point out their credentials on websites, email, and social media channels.

Potential clients should be re-assured that an award-winning company has demonstrated excellence in their field and have confidence in that providers abilities.  Surely award-winning can only be positive – right?

Well… maybe not so much…


Vanity Awards

It is an unfortunate case, that many awards programs are simply marketing or PR exercises designed to generate hype, or awareness for a particular group, without any actual technical merit.  We call these vanity awards – they look good on the surface with no real substance.

SONA have been invited to enter awards where we can submit ourselves to be shortlisted, and then the entire judging process is simply people voting for us, which we can influence and try to encourage ourselves.  These people don’t have to be customers or people who we have worked with – our family and friends votes are totally valid (we’re sure they are no way biased…!) – hardly the indicator for technical expertise (no offence to our friends and family).

This essentially becomes a simple matter of convincing the most people to vote – there is no independent judging of our work, no technical assessment of our design or implementation, or even examples of our work required.  Often you’ll find people saying ‘you vote for me and I’ll vote for you’.

If were to win an award such as this, it would mean absolutely nothing to us.  So much so, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to even enter. It doesn’t offer any indicator of our competence or qualifications to potential clients.  It wouldn’t, or certainly shouldn’t reassure clients in any way.

As a result SONA do not enter any awards programs where the categories are not independently judged on the technical details alone and where the judging panel has no knowledge of the entrants.  This is true competition and putting our hat in the ring to be compared against some of the world’s best companies gives us a tremendous buzz.

Those are awards worth entering.


The CEDIA Awards

SONA are extremely proud to have been highly commended, finalists, and winners of the coveted CEDIA awards a total of 6 times in the past 3 years.

CEDIA is the international Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association with over 3700 members worldwide who design, manufacture, and install technology for the home.

Once again, full disclosure.  Any company, no matter what their credentials, experience or skill level are, can be a CEDIA member.  However, to win a CEDIA award is a serious business, and there are no easy short-cuts to being shortlisted here.  Winning a CEDIA award is one of our proudest moments, as it meant we were seen in the industry as one of the best, by people who really know their stuff.

We are so proud of these accolades becuase the CEDIA Awards program directly recognise technical excellence and all entries are subject to an intense anonymous judging process of a projects design, documentation, implementation, and engineering standards from a panel of leading industry experts.

This approach – where the actual technical merits of a project are expertly assessed and marked forces a home technology company to provide evidence of their approach, and in the case of the CEDIA Awards, requires documented evidence of:

  • Client brief
  • How the brief was met
  • Project costs
  • Equipment lists
  • Floor plan drawings
  • Cable schematics
  • Equipment rack photography
  • Client testimonial & authorisation


A Cheshire company, who compete worldwide when it comes to standards

Entrants to the CEDIA Awards are split into their regions, meaning that when SONA enter our projects, we are not just competing with other local, national or even European home technology professionals, but those from the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region.

This means our integrated homes, media rooms, home cinemas and equipment rack builds are judged against companies from Dubai, to Cape Town, to Glasgow – and to even be shortlisted at this level is a huge and fantastic achievement, and to win in any category is a clear and definitive statement that you are performing at the very highest level in the world.

The sheer task of preparing entries for the awards scheme requires enormous resource for anyone entering – SONA hope to submit seven entries this year and estimate spending over 100 hours removing identifying brands from our drawing packages, preparing essay question responses, arranging photography and client permissions.


So, if you’re looking for a TRULY award-winning home technology partner…

In summary then – if you’re looking for a home technology provider and they advertise themselves as award-winning, take the time to ask them what the award program was, how it was judged and make your own mind up as to it’s true value because just maybe, that award isn’t quite as valuable or informative as you might initially believe.


SONA are a CEDIA award-winning company and our team have decades of experience in the home technology market, having worked on projects worldwide, ranging from bespoke private cinemas to super-yachts and integrated luxury home systems.

Every element of our design and installation approach is meticulously considered and the standards of our installations are recognised both by our clients, and the industry as being at the very highest level.