Dead or Alive? Bringing Brands Back to Life

AuthorMichael Sanford Stone
ProfessionB.A. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law
Dead or Alive? Bringing
Brands Back to Life
We can al l remember brands we loved (or not) that have dis-
appeared. Frequently they are household name brands to
which we bec ame emotionall y attached—brand s to which we were
loyal and for which we still have positive associations, brands we
trusted. Most importantly, these brands oen retain signicant
equity. Equity that is dicult to measure and value.
Under the right circumstances, licensing ca n resurrect these
brands. With a well-conceived strategy, licensing can capitalize
on their hard-won equity and overcome whatever challenges
destroyed the brand. And as was true of celebrity licensing, we ca n
learn a great deal about brand licensing as we examine successes
and failures experienced in bri nging brands back.
Brands can easily be taken o the market, but not so easily
erased from our memories. ere are many possible reasons for a
brand’s demise, decline, and disappearance from the ma rketplace,
but poor brand management usually is one of them. Bad manage-
ment decisions and the inability to keep up with changes in the
The Power of Licensing
marketplace can cause an iconic brand to falter. Here are some
other reasons (but not all of the reasons) iconic brands disappear:
1. e parent company stops investing in the brand’s mar-
keting, innovation, and product development in favor of
investment in other owned brands of a similar charac ter.
Example: Brim coee (“Fill it to the rim wit h Brim”) ended
up at Altria (the reconstituted General Foods), which also
owned Maxwell House, which discontinued Brim. As
companies continue to merge, brands we love may fall
away as part of a large multinational ’s brand portfolio.
2. Cha llenges in the larger economic environment lim it con-
sumers’ continued participation with the brand. E xample:
Gourmet magazine, founded in 1941, beloved by foodies,
couldn’t survive in a marketplace with decli ning maga-
zine sales and was shuttered in 200 9 to give Condé Nast’s
other food magazine, Bon Appétit, a better chance of sur-
vival in a chal lenging magazine market.
3. Strong new competitors steal share. Example: Linens ’n
ings lost out to Bed Bath & Beyond.
4. Inability to keep up with trends and changing market
conditions. Example: Kodak. Although not dead, cert ainly
comatose (Kodak has licensed its name for digital cameras
and 3D printers, for example). Kodak kept manufact uring
lm as the market turned to digital cameras and then
5. Changes in consumer behavior, which, over time, erode
the brand’s relevance. Example: Netix saw the future, but
Blockbuster didn’t. Internet services and on-demand cable
services changed consumers’ behavior for accessing mov-
ies. When Netix started sending movies to consumers,
Blockbuster kept building stores. Demographic shis in
the U.S. population can also impact relevancy as imm i-
grants and their U.S.-born children fail to develop emo-
tional attachment to brands. Example: Hostess (maker of

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