I love this recent series of posts John Moore has been running on his Brand Autopsy blog. So far he's picked 4 well-known brands and asked if you'd miss them if they went away: Chili's, Subaru, Sears and Wells Fargo.
Is there any way he could have picked 4 more generic companies?! Seriously, do any of these names really stand out from their competition as having some unique product or service? If I were blindfolded and led into a restaurant, I'm not sure I could say whether it's a Chili's or any of 6 or 7 very similar competitors. Subaru? If I didn't have to drive past their enormous plant off I-65 every so often I probably would have forgotten they were still in the car business. Sears? Don't get me going on Sears...their quality has been awful for far too long. It's amazing they're still in business. Wells Fargo...maybe it's a geographic thing, but I rarely hear anything about them.
All 4 of these companies probably had much stronger brand recognition 10, 20 or more years ago. It's yet another warning to anyone managing a brand that you need to figure out how to keep it current and relevant.