Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's in a name?

I understand giving up some brand equity to reflect a stronger, more defensible brand. I really do. But on what basis does Radio Shack decide to drop the "Radio" from its name and become...are you ready?...The Shack?

Huh? Company chief marketing officer Lee Applbaum says the change was simply adopting the name most customers and employees called the electronics store anyway. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone call it "The Shack." Have you? And I've been a customer for 40 years. "Rat Shack," maybe. Lots of times. But I wouldn't recommend using that name either.

I guess Rude Counter Person Who Does Not Know Jack was taken already. Or maybe didn't test well in focus groups.

Incidentally, I first heard about this in one of the radio industry trades, and their position was that The Shack no longer wants to be associated with radio. Does that mean the Rockettes will soon be hoofing in the City Music Hall? That kids will be riding in Flyer wagons? That the Queen song will forever be renamed, simply, "Ga Ga?" And our beloved hobby will become "amateur?" Or, worse, "ham?"

Christian Science Monitor reporter Matthew Shaer has some cogent cognition on the subject in his blog HERE. There is a funny blog post on this topic HERE.

Sad thing is, Radio Shack (I know it was officially one word, but I can't make myself do it) was once a good source of various parts, cables and tools electronic hobbyists required. Or had people manning the store who could explain to the unitiated how to hook up a set of speakers or program a scanner. Need a couple of BNC connectors and a short piece of coax at 8 PM? Run down to the mall. They sold quite a bit of amateur radio gear for a while, too. Heck, I bought my first computer, a TRS-80, from The Shack (grrrrrrrrr).

Truth is, they lost their image a long time ago, carrying everything from cell phones to CB radio antennas. Yes, they once had the image as a haven for nerds, but at least they had an image an were a haven for somebody with money to spend.

Oh, well. I guess it is true, what I read the other day. You know a company's dying when it reaches for that last straw, "re-branding."

Don Keith N4KC


Anonymous said...

Hi Don,

I think your right on the "last straw" comment.

Very interesting subject matter on your blog. Only thing I can add is these are amazing times we are living in from a tech standpoint among others. I am 38 years old so can just remember Atari, Colecocvision and Commadore 64.

Got my Tech/Gen ticket Sept. 2008 and been having a blast since then. I like CW and all its history but also active with digital modes. I think this is a great time to be in Amateur Radio. Best of all I have met a bunch of great people.

Maybe Lance can save the Shack Hi Hi

Don Keith N4KC said...

Mike, thanks for the comments. Yes, these are interesting times, on many fronts. My reason for starting this blog was the general confusion about whether all this change was good, bad, or indifferent. I've come to believe it is all three!

I came from the broadcasting business, and mostly from a time when radio stations did not even have a computer anywhere in the station. I then worked for a company that did such necessary software that stations began buying the things, then added more for traffic, music scheduling, and now, of course, to actually play the music or switch programming from one source to another. Some of that has been good, some bad, some indifferent.

I'm sure folks said the same thing about the rock, iron and fire!

Come visit often.

Don Keith N4KC

jwalther said...

I live in a small town and as for me I'd rather go to our Radio Shack then just about anywhere else for radio accessories. Granted they don't have many radios but at least the people who work at ours know what is going on and have the parts to do the job.

Don said...

jwaither, my experience has been that some of the people at RS are helpful and know what I need and where to find it. Unfortunately, most seem to hide from me, and the space devoted to parts, connectors, plugs and stuff has slowly been replaced by telephones and computers. I understand that is where the money is, but I don't see that as a long-term strategy when there is a Verizon store on every corner and Dell sells more computers in a week that RS does in a year.

Next news will be RS going the way of Circuit City. It's inevitable. They were labeled as a geek store because they were on the leading edge of technology. No more. Better to be geeky and profitable than just another cell phone kiosk.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Don Keith N4KC