Matsushita is now officially Panasonic

Matsushita has officially changed its name to Panasonic. The Japanese electronics maker announced last week that it will drop the founder’s name to strengthen its global image under one name.

The name change was approved at a board meeting and will become effective Oct. 1 upon approval at a shareholders’ meeting in June, Matsushita said in a statement.

The move signals the importance of brand recognition amid intensifying global competition and makes sense given that the Osaka-based company is far better known outside Japan as Panasonic, one of its brand names, rather than as Matsushita, the Associated Press reported.

The company, founded in 1918, will also drop its local brand, National, for products such as rice cookers, washing machines and refrigerators, by March 31, 2010, it said.

Matsushita said the decision was to “unify its global brand,” but said it will continue to run its business based on the philosophy of its founder, Konosuke Matsushita.