Over time, some popular brands simply seem to fade away into obsolescence, or experience a bit of an identity crisis. Some of these brands return with a vengeance - at times even surpassing their original popularity. New product lines or image overhauls are often responsible for some of the most notable brand resurrections in recent history. (To understand the qualities that make for a great company, investors must dig deep into "soft" metrics. Check out Qualitative Analysis: What Makes A Company Great?)
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By the late 1990s, Apple's future appeared to be in crisis. The resurgence of this brand's popularity came after Steve Jobs' return to the company, followed by the introduction of iTunes and iPod. Trendy new advertising campaigns upped the appeal of this brand, along with various other new products that followed, including the iPhone and iPad. Apple is now enjoying huge success as one of the most popular computer and tech-gadget companies, with a huge fan following that has people lining up for hours just to get the latest versions of their products.
Nintendo enjoyed huge success when they first launched in 1985. As competition grew through the 1990s and early 2000s with the rise of Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation, Nintendo was left in a conundrum about how to stay relevant in this competitive market. Nintendo brought its brand back to the forefront with a radical new addition to the gaming industry: the Wii. Along with the release of the Wii Fit, Nintendo very cleverly added an element of physical activity to a pastime that's generally viewed as sedentary. With many games being suitable for multiple players, the Wii also added an element of family-friendly social interaction to the video game experience - thus introducing a whole new audience to the world of video gaming.
The Mini Cooper seemed to be fading away into the history books before it was discontinued in 2000. BMW re-released the car in 2001 with a similar exterior and an improved interior. These little micro cars became instantly trendy, and offered an old-fashioned kitsch appeal that consumers bought up like crazy. This release was perfectly timed in an age when many people are selecting smaller cars for their fuel economy, and with a name like BMW attached to it, the Mini has not only enjoyed success - it's now also considered a status symbol!
Burberry has been around for over a century, with their signature plaid first introduced in 1924. This brand has gone through a number of peaks and valleys through its lifespan, eventually considered a symbol of British conservatism until its revival as a top luxury brand in the 1990s. Known for trendy handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel - all with that eye-catching and recognizable pattern - Burberry's image shift has put it in the realm of many of the most sought-after fashion lines in the world. With a broad fan following, including rap artists, famous athletes and aristocrats alike, Burberry has come to be associated with wealth and style. (These five qualitative measures allow investors to draw conclusions about a corporation that are not apparent on the balance sheet. See Using Porter's 5 Forces To Analyze Stocks.)
Lacoste started out as a brand created by tennis star Rene Lacoste in 1933. This brand's empire began with the embroidered alligator logo plastered on its signature polo shirts. Through the years, Lacoste opened up its distribution so much that the apparel was widely available, and many other brands started to offer similar products. This brand has come a long way since their polo shirt beginnings. Lacoste is now considered a lifestyle brand that offers everything from footwear, handbags, perfumes and colognes, sunglasses, accessories, and clothing (of course). Lacoste tightened up distribution in an attempt to regain exclusivity, and is now enjoying huge success with many signature stores in shopping centers worldwide.
We've all seen the commercials with the "Old Spice Guy". This is one brand that used clever marketing to refresh its image from old-fashioned and outdated to hip and modern. Old Spice has been around for over 70 years. This brand's change in marketing tactics received widespread attention, and started a social media frenzy, allowing them to cross the generational divide.
Many a teenaged-girl's foot sported those classic white Ked's in the 1980s. Ked's have always been known for casual comfort, though this brand experienced a decline through the '90s and early 2000s, which left Ked's in a bit of an identity crisis. Ked's has recently made a comeback with the launch of modernized styles - like wedge heels and flats - all boasting unique and colorful patterns.
By the end of the 1980s, Puma's brand seemed to be in steady decline with a relatively small share of the athletic footwear market. Today, Puma has enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity. Some of its success has come from the popularity of retro-kitsch apparel. Consumers remembered the Puma designs of years gone by, and when Puma released designs based on retro colors and styles, consumers responded! Puma has also sponsored some big-name musicians and athletes to bring their brand back into the spotlight.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Now a trendy brand with the teens and 20-somethings, it's hard to believe this brand started out over 100 years ago as a sporting goods and menswear store. The 1960s saw a rapid decline in sales for Abercrombie & Fitch. This brand has successfully shed its formerly stuffy image, and is now a staple in shopping centers across the country and beyond. (Learn how to put one of the top equity analysis tools to work for you. See Peer Comparison Uncovers Undervalued Stocks.)
The Bottom Line
Brand loyalty may exist, but it only goes so far. Consumers can be fickle. Clever marketers weather the storms by finding ways to stay relevant while appealing to new consumers and maintaining the customer base they've already won over. The past few years have seen a rise in retro-brand revivals. It will be interesting to see which dead or dying brand pops up on the radar again to overtake its former successes.