I had my doubts when I heard last fall that longtime (since 1921) retailer RadioShack was finally attempting to join the 21st century with a rebranding. Rather than an engaging redesign, the company’s decision was to simply drop the word “Radio” from its name in favor of “The Shack.”
Wow. Right off that’s confusing, especially in conversation. Did you mean “The Shaq” as in basketball phenom Shaquille O’Neal, or “The Shack” as in the oddly popular paperback by William Young, or “The Shack” as in that old electronic parts store RadioShack, or . . .?
Then I learned they really didn’t drop “Radio” from the name. They were using both RadioShack and “The Shack.” So much for taking a risk.
Turns out it really was a risk, as evidenced in an online feature article via 24/7 Wall St. (“10 Brands That May Disappear in 2011,” July 8, 2010) tagging RadioShack as one of several well-known companies that could stop answering their phones next year. Some are victims of our impatient times (Blockbuster video rental stores, losers to on-demand rentals and downloads) or their own circumstances (Reader’s Digest, for a change in format and plummeting circulation). But RadioShack had a chance. With a dynamic rebranding, the company might have pulled itself to its feet and taken a bold step forward. Instead, it only got to one knee.
Playing it safe has become RadioShack’s undoing, and even a prayer, whether on one knee or two, isn’t likely to be enough to save it.