It's sometimes fun to speculate about companies and brands that will not be around a year from now. And for the most part, many of such predictions are relatively accurate. But what about those that stick around even through those tough times? Brands that found themselves, in one way or another, fading in popularity; and for one reason or another, are still around today. Brands that simply haven't, and perhaps never will, go away… Here's our top 6:
RCA has one of the richest and most interesting histories for any American brand. Starting with the Radio Corporation of America's unconventional formation by General Electric in 1919, their involvement in multiple anti-trust resolutions, the the companies multiple twists and turns resulting in its eventual demise. That's right: RCA (the company) has not been around since 1986 when General Electric re-acquired the property and sold off the pieces. And still, the brand survives even today…
Currently, the trademark rights belong to the french conglomerate Technicolor SA (Thomson SA) and the RCA name is licensed to a number of different companies as per the separate RCA product lines, most notably RCA records (SONY), and their consumer electronics lines. It's a brand so powerful and engrained in society that it survived nearly 30 years after the company's demise and is seemingly going strong.
Fruit of the Loom
The widely popular clothing brand mostly known for their undergarments got it's start back in the 1850's, about 20 years before trademark law were passed in the U.S. In fact, their trademark number of 418 makes it one of the oldest surviving trademarks today. Getting started as a textile mill, the brand came about when owner Robert Knight was told by a friend, who sold cloth from his mill, that when his daughter painted a red apple on the cloth, it sold better. Mr. knight then used the symbol as his logo and as inspiration for the “Fruit of the Loom” Trademark.
The turn of the last century didn't go so well for the company, however. Reporting half a billion dollars in losses in 1999, Fruit of the Loom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A couple years later, Warren Buffet came to the brand's rescue and purchased it from bankruptcy. Since then, the clothing line has surged and even buying up competitors and expanding its line. This is perhaps one of the most stable brands on the planet (that you hear very little about).
Almost completely opposite from the above brand, Old Spice saved itself from fading into obscurity by starting what has become the boldest and most talked about marketing campaigns of the new century. Believe it or not, the first Old Spice product, when the company got started in 1937, was actually for women. A year later, old spice released it's after shave lotion which quickly became a staple in every household in America. Facing the very real fact that their product was only still popular in aging generations, the company decided to expand their product offering and revamp their marketing strategy.
Today, Old Spice has expanded its line to a number of deodorants, sprays, and shower gels for men. This along with numerous clever and strangely entertaining advertising and marketing campaigns, your grandfather's favorite after shave brand has positioned itself as an industry leader in the newer generations as well. Old Spice: you're doing it right.
R/C “Royal Crown”
Royal Crown is one of those brands that simply seems satisfied being in perpetual 3rd place. Another American staple, R/C's history goes as far back as 1905 when a pharmacist named Claude Hatcher decided to make his own line of soft drinks following a disagreement with a local bottler. Originally called Union Bottling Works, the first line of drinks “Royal Crown Ginger Ale” later gave way to the eventual re-branding of their company as “Royal Crown” in 1959. Shortly after, they became the first company to develop a sugar free diet cola.
In the past 30 years, the R/C company has been passed around a number of times. Today, the brand is barely even a participant in the ongoing “cola wars”. Rather, R/C sits on the tradition of its 100+ year old brand and worldwide bottling infrastructure seemingly satisfied to let Coca-Cola and Pepsi spend millions on marketing to fight for that #1 spot. Perhaps R/C won't ever be the most popular brand of soft drink, but it probably won't ever go away either.
The oldest active American made auto brand, Buick is a company that is synonymous with reliability. Sold as a premium brand under General Motors, Buick, like most of the companies on our list never fully distinguished itself as “top dog”. Rather, they carved themselves a comfortable niche as an automaker that made unassuming vehicles with above average performance, but with a focus on quality craftsmanship.
Domestically, Buick sales peaked in the mid 80's, with a slow decline in the years that followed. Consolidating it's line of models, the automaker focused on it's signature makes. But even though sales slipped domestically, thanks in large part to China, Buick's largest market, it remained a profitable brand for General Motors even if the parent company (overall) was not. In recent years, Buick begun reshaping it's product lines to focus on younger demographics and thanks to being called the most reliable car brand in 2009 (tied with Jaguar by J.D. Power and associates) it became the fastest growing car company of 2010 helping propel GM back to it's #1 automaker spot.
Perhaps not necessarily a “staple” like many of the rest on our list, America Online was a big player in the early growth of dial-up internet service providers, particularly in the 90's. And despite numerous customer service issues including a notoriously tough cancellation policy and the billing disputes that followed to the mockingly branded "Always Off-Line" due to service issues, the popularity hit its peak at around 2002.
Since then, however, AOL has gone through a very notable rough patch with it's ISP service practically disappearing by 2009. But in that time, the company has re-purposed itself as a content provider instead, going for online advertising revenue to sustain the brand.
Today AOL is a relative conglomerate of popular online content along with many of it's own AOL branded services. Some of it's more recent and popular acquisitions include Techcrunch, Engadget, and The Huffington Post. The old AOL is gone, but the new one seems to grow stronger and stronger each year.