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RadioShack has a new nickname. Starting this week, the company's new "brand creative platform" will be "The Shack." Beyond the fact that the less descriptive name is also less forward looking, the repositioning gets to a larger point. Where does a brand go when its focus becomes outdated?

In the case of RadioShack, they're moving into the crowded market of computer and wireless providers.

According to the company's publicity materials:

"We have tremendous equity in consumers' minds around cables, parts and batteries, but it's critically important that we help them to understand the role that we play in keeping people connected in this highly mobile world. You will see a real focus on mobility and wireless products from leading brands in our new advertising."

About 30% of the company's sales are from wireless and connectivity products now, but going forward "The Shack" will focus more on products currently provided by companies like BestBuy and various mobile carriers.

In describing the company's name and business shift, their press release details:

"This creative is not about changing our name. Rather, we’re contemporizing the way we want people to think about our brand. THE SHACK speaks to consumers in a fresh, new voice and distinctive creative look that reinforces RadioShack’s authority in innovative products, leading brands and knowledgeable, helpful associates."

What exactly is contemporary about the concept of a shack, you ask? The brand argues that it will be easier to tweet and share. But it is also less descriptive for searching purposes online. And while radios may not be the most forward looking pieces of technology, they probably have one up on the concept of makeshift shacks.

Meanwhile, the bigger issue is what is happening with the company's business focus. To celebrate "The Shack," the company is having a bicoastal party called a "Netogether":

"The Shack Summer Netogether will connect New York and San Francisco via larger-than-life laptops August 6th-8th. The laptops will appear in Times Square and at Justin Herman Plaza, and will stream live webcam images to each other from 3,000 miles apart. Check back for the schedule to see bands, contest, etc. and be sure to come back to check out the live stream."

If you're looking for a flat footed way to modernize a brand, taking something that is light and mobile and turning it 14-feet tall stationary "laptop" might be a good way to go.

Companies like Pizza Hut, Stereo Barn and Dress Barn are all dealing with the same problem today: outdated names that not only fail to sound fresh and new, they actually work against the companies' goals (Show me a woman who wants to think of the word "barn" while purchasing new clothes, for instance).

In the case of a company like Kentucky Fried Chicken, it's a problem easier solved by abbreviation. But with only two words in a brand name like RadioShack, it becomes harder.

And for a company created in 1919, choosing to make this shift now seems a bit odd. Radios are no less antiquated now than they were 10 years ago. The new Shack website is trying to be more social. It publicizes the new party and declares: "Our friends call us The Shack"). But beyond competing with people already established in the connectivity space, RadioShack is now competing for name recognition with Shaquille O'Neal: The Real Shaq.

And before the name shift, RadioShack was actually making some progress toward updating its brand. Federated Media recently created Radio Shack Invention Lab, which was a site where viewers could post DIY items they created with RadioShack products and get further purchase solutions from RadioShack.

Things like this, that get back to the basics as a company known for helpful service and useful products, would be a much better strategy then creating nonsense buzz words like a Netogether with a large live show or simplifying a brand name beyond the point of recognition.

The company has set itself up for a lot of work in explaining the change online. RadioShack's Twitter handle (The_Shack) may only have 118 followers, but they are working hard to keep up with people talking about the change. Mention the brand or a tech problem on Twitter and you likely get a response from The_Shack along these lines:

@volvoshine Dude, your name is 'volvoshine'. A little like the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think?

We will go out of business when we run out of both awesome and haters. Ooh, SNAP!

Our name change? That's official. It's our official 'nickname'. We're still RadioShack on lots of financial paperwork. That's all

Meghan Keane

Published 3 August, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Don't they know that The Shack is the title of a book that has been  a  huge best seller in the last year?

I just googled 'the shack'  -top 3 are abut the book, including a Youtube link.

At Youtube, there are zillions of items about the book.

Credit to Radio shack, they do get on Google to No 4 and 7 through some IT/gadget sites.

Going off topic - the book has been a huge seller:

Despite being rather non mainstream (dealing with someone dealing with the aftermath of their daughter's murder; and having a fable-like,  encounter in the Shack with 3 people representing God the Trinity: the Father being a middle-aged black women...)

Not sure if online viral campaigns or just plain old word of mouth played a part?

I certainly don't think any of the pundits would have predicted the book as a hit.

almost 7 years ago

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colin mcdermott

No reference in this piece to that other BIG PR wave that's going to wash over and around 'The Shack': namely their upcoming branding association with Lance Armstrong and his new cycle team. 

  • Are the 2 items connected?
  • I couldn't possibly comment! 
  • July 2010 - Tour De France, watch out!

almost 7 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Oh, they haven't got theshack.co.uk registered ; but do have theshack.com

But they do have radioshack.co.uk registered, but it doesn't seem to serve any pages today...

almost 7 years ago

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Larry

The Shack? Really? Let's see...In my mind, a shack is a rickety old house where the roof leaks, the windows are drafty and the doors don't work. It feels very back woods and like yesterday's news. Radio Shack is a major brand that everyone is familiar with. It seems to me that wiser heads would choose to leverage the equity of the brand and re-define it in a way that reflects its broader objectives. Time will tell, but I think that anyone who thinks that The Shack is a cool moniker for a wireless player is smoking the drapes.

almost 7 years ago

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Adi @ The Management Blog

Like Colin, I first heard of these guys when Lance Armstrong announced he was forming a new cycling team sponsored by Radio Shack.  Seems a bit odd to have had all of that kind of publicity and potential name recognition, then go and change the name shortly afterwards.

almost 7 years ago

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PISSED OFF

DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THEY CHANGE THEIR NAME TO! THEY ARE STILL A BUNCH OF MORONS! SERVICE SUCKS, THEY DO NOT HONOR THEIR REPLACEMENT WARRANTIES! BUT THEY DO TAKE YOUR MONEY FOR IT!!! AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, I HOPE THEY FAIL IN 2010!!! I HAVE SHOPPED THEIR FOR DECADES BUT THIS LAST TIME IS THE LAST TIME! THEY HAVE SCREWED ME OVER FOR THE LAST TIME!! GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH, RS!!! YOU SUCK!

over 6 years ago

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