Reviving a “dead” brand name: A good idea?

Today’s New York Times contains a story about defunct retail companies trying to make comebacks as pure web plays or for their brand equity. Their article focused on Sharper Image, which appears to have a second life as a purveyor of packaged gift and electronic items for stores like Macy’s and JCPenney.

I’ve commented on this blog about Linens n’ Things and also commented yesterday on Retail Wire about attempts to resuscitate the Comp USA electronics brand. In this case, I’m skeptical:

I agree with other panelists…reviving the Comp USA business under the existing name is a mistake. You might as well name it Circuit City 2.0 for all the negative connotations. And making price the key competitive difference is also a questionable decision…there is always somebody (Walmart, anyone?) willing to be the low price leader in every category it competes in, including consumer electronics. Since Walmart already “owns” price and Best Buy “owns” customer service, maybe it’s smarter for Comp USA 2.0 to stake out a different competitive position altogether, such as providing the easiest shopping experience in the segment.

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