Resurrecting old brands

Brands live longer in the minds of customers than people think. Further, assuming the brand had a positive impact at one time, that is what is usually remembered. This fact has caused astute business people to buy old brands and resurrect them in the current market for new products reflective of the brand’s position.

Packard Bell was purchased from Teledyne and positioned as a consumer computer. This strategy allowed Packard Bell computers to become the #1 consumer brand. Unfortunately, trying to then position them as business computers failed and the company went broke. Not dissimilar to the TRS-80 which did well as a consumer product but never made it as a business computer. (Who wanted a TRASH-80 on their desk at work?)

The Commodore brand has been resurrected. Yesterday the revival of the Commodore 64 was announced. The product even looks like the original for those with nostalgia in their veins. The price is the same, the difference in performance is staggering. Just another reflection of the power of Moore’s Law.

While many are touting this new product as a nostalgia play, to me it is just a brilliant use of an old brand. We’ll see if the new brand owner can keep from trying to brand extend. Interestingly, the company does not seem to have a website tied to Commodore 64 or Commodore computers, but they did indicate the first release of the new computer had sold out.

This whole line of discussion got me thinking. Why has nobody purchased the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn or Hummer brands? How smart would it be for an Asian car manufacturer with no brand presence in the U.S. to launch a line that was in alignment with one of these brands, and not try to build their own brand? Is it possible that GM won’t sell the brand names?

Mitch

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