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How Corporate Icons Die


Make one mistake and it can tank your company in a heartbeat. That’s how the corporate icons we will look at today met their end. One, albeit significant, mistake.

The business world is tough, even for corporate icons.

Let us look at a few big companies that didn’t make it over the last few years.

There mistakes at first seem small, but it is was killed them.


First, we have Sears, which has been around since 1892.  Once the largest retail company in the U.S. until 1989 when Wal-Mart surpassed it.

Sears now has shut down half its stores in the last 10 years.  Although stores are still open in the U.S., Sears folded in Canada in 2018 and Sears has been sold off in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Over 100,000 have lost their jobs.

What went wrong with the once king of retail corporate icons Sears?

Employees didn’t have many opportunities for growth within the company and pay increases were negligible.

Sears made unhappy employees, who didn’t care about the company or making the store look good.

When a company doesn’t value its workers, workers are going to care even less about their job and ultimately this was the death for much of Sears.


What about RadioShack in Canada?

RadioShack had been around since 1921. Once everyone’s go-to place for electronics, and the corporate icon precipitant from Tandy Corp.

It now has been a couple of years since it filed for bankruptcy. What contributed to its demise?

As online shopping became popular, RadioShack refused to have an e-commerce presence, in doing so; this contributed to its death.

AOL-Time Warner

This has to be the largest business fail in history. Probably one of the most recognizable corporate icons.

The merging of AOL and Time Warner in 2001 was a big mistake and cost the two companies $99 billion.

Although a simple idea, put two companies together, AOL had an online audience and Time Warner had a television audience.

Seemed simple enough but no one made sure the two organizations were compatible.

The result was a poor organization, poor management, and failures beyond the ordinary failures.


We all remember Blockbuster!

Throughout the 90’s it was the place to go for movies and video game rentals.

When its sales started to decline instead of promoting new releases it decided the solution was to add impulse items like candy, toys, chips and electronic accessories.

The corporate icon died a slow death as social media grew, falling so far behind there was no way for it to get back up.

Did you learn something from these company’s mistakes?  Make sure you don’t make the same one. Don’t let your venture be the subject of a future article on how corporate icons meet their demise.

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How Corporate Icons Die

by Sonia Landry time to read: 2 min