J.C. Penney canned CEO Ron Johnson after seventeen months. His implosive changes cost Penney billions and shareholders forty percent of their investments.
But Johnson’s only the face of the disaster. And nobody has mentioned Penney’s board of directors.
The real culprit is a guy named William Ackman and the rest of Penney’s board of directors. Ackman manages a hedge-fund that is Penney’s largest shareholder. It was Ackman who led the board to coax Johnson away from Apple.
Just because somebody tells you that a certain business category is a dying business doesn’t mean it’s gonna die today or tomorrow. People were still making money on Blockbuster stores a decade after the announcement of their demise.
Business categories do, indeed, die. Almost always because of advances in science. Nobody’s making steamships any more.
But some categories that start shrinking aren’t necessarily dying. They’re just getting smaller.
It’s gotten quite popular in the last few years to select dirty names for start-up businesses. There’s Dirty Dick’s Crab House, Fat Bastard Burrito, but none tops the new burger joint in Chattanooga.
Its name is Sofa - King - Juicy - Burger. If you say the name real fast, it only takes a couple times to figure out the intent of the owner. Despite, that is, the fact that he says there’s a large sofa in the joint.
Nothing is more important in any business than its brand. And branding is very serious business. But what’s even harder than branding, is RE-branding.
Building a brand from scratch is very hard. Not for quitters. But at least you’re trying to reach open minds. As in, Now there’s a place to buy tacos, and it’s called Taco Bell. But if you add hamburgers and re-brand as, say, Taco & Burger Bell, people probably will never quit saying Taco Bell.