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The Awesomeness of Brand Resurrection (2023)

When brands fail, they are put to pasture. DeAnn explores the idea of brand resurrection using Blockbuster as a case study and provides some guidelines on how this increasingly popular trend work. Perhaps brands do make comebacks like boybands!

Introduction – What Is Brand Resurrection?

Some brands are so strong even death can’t kill them. Why are some brands celebrated even after closure and others left to oblivion? What are the common traits? A recent reactivation of the Blockbuster.com website (new home screen shown below) has speculation racing across the internet.

The Awesomeness of Brand Resurrection – Blockbuster (Image: Blockbuster.com)

The Awesomeness of Brand Resurrection – Google Trends in the United States for Blockbuster as a topic for the 90 days ending April 13, 2023. The peak was when the new Blockbuster.com came online. (Image: Google Trends)

There can be life after death for brands that strike the right chord with consumers. FAO Schwartz, ToysRus, Tower Records, Kodak, Radio Shack, GameBoy, Zellers (see below), and others are a few that are being resurrected with a modern twist to capitalize on consumer love.

The Awesomeness of Brand Resurrection – Zellers Canada Revival (Image: Craig Patterson – Retail Insider)

Yet many other brands remain un-missed (anyone remembers Worthworths? Commodore? Circuit City? Saturn?) 

Revivable vs Forgotten Brands

Here are the key traits of revivable vs forgotten brands.

Revivable Brands: 
– Gave excellent customer experience
– Offered products or services that engaged our emotions: entertained, made memories with us, and tapped into multiple senses.
– Connected to the community and the culture in a way that newer brands don’t easily replicate

The chief downfall of these brands was financial mismanagement, economic recession, or leadership missteps, but the products and branding were good. Without their operational issues, many might have survived indefinitely.

Forgotten Brands:
– Focused on selling products more than customer experience. It’s hard to miss something that feels like a commodity. 
– Failed to differentiate as new competitors emerged.
– Little connection to community and culture, thus easily replaced by newer brands offering more relevant products/services.

These brands failed to innovate to stay in tune with evolving consumers, cultures, and technologies. We quickly found newer alternatives that we’re happy with.

One Caveat

The one caveat in reviving an old brand is that you can never go back again. You must reposition the old brand in a new way that is relevant today, but still respectful of its roots.

Blockbuster would do an excellent streaming service for old movies but is not so great as a fast good chain; ToysRus makes a great shop-in-shop; and Tower Records as a creative and entertainment space for live performances sounds promising. There can be a lot of life left in reviving a dead brand, but only with the right strategy.

Even Netflix out into the nostalgia with a one-season comedy celebrating the end of the brand

Final Words

Brand resurrection is a concept that is not new in form but newer in execution. With 80s nostalgia from shows like Stranger Things in full swing, there are opportunities for the once-beloved but now-abandoned brands to make a comeback. Blockbuster is one of those brands building hype and attention in advance of a relaunch. While there are very few details on the new Blockbuster business model, consumers, media, and critics alike are looking forward to reliving childhood memories in the near future.

Comment below on which companies you would like to experience a brand resurrection.

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