In the last fifteen years the Internet has gone from a platform for businesses and students to use in the workplace, to a tool found in every household and referred to daily for leisure, information and shopping. Because of the astronomical rise in the popularity of the net brands, large companies have had to adapt their products and services accordingly. Some, such as supermarket chain Tesco have been very successful and secured their rightful place in the World Wide Web. Some however have not and here we look at the companies which have failed miserably in their Internet rebranding.


The Times

The Times newspaper was and still is one of the most popular broadsheet newspapers around. It has been established for over two hundred years when it was first known as The Daily Universal Register. Since then it has been at the forefront of newsprint and considered a source of authority in the UK. However, in the last few years it has had to adapt to keep up with technology and began an online presence in March 1999. This, at first, proved popular as in April 2009, the timesonline site had a very healthy readership of 750,000 readers per day.

However under Rupert Murdock’s influence, in July 2010, the website started to charge readers £1 per day or £2 per week for access which proved extremely unpopular. According to figures released in November 2010 by The Times, visits to their websites have decreased by 87% since the paywall was introduced, from 21 million unique users per month to 2.7 million. Due to rebranding the site as an online resource but charging people to view the information, The Times readers have disappeared tenfold showing that an established business can misjudge a situation leading to disaster.



Twenty years ago Blockbuster were the kings of film with millions of members all over the world. As with other video rental stores they used retail outlets on the high street to sell one or two nights of video and computer game rental. They started to struggle however when they failed to adapt to the huge changes in technology and continued to sell their products via what quickly became an extremely outdated system. Their competitors such as Sky were offering films available for download, companies such as Lovefilm were sending movies direct to people’s doors and internet sites were offering films which could be downloaded in a few minutes straight to televisions or computers. The result of being too slow on the uptake in the face of change is that Blockbuster are now closing hundreds of stores and desperately trying to find a strategy to get back on track.



Although Myspace initially led the way in social networking online, the company made one huge mistake which was not moving quick enough and keeping up with the trends. Facebook quickly learned that users weren’t interested in pretty site designs, games and novelties and simply wanted a service which enabled them to keep in touch with their friends and share photos and videos of one another. As Facebook gained in popularity, Myspace users left in their droves and the website became too far behind to ever recover.


Toys ‘R’ Us

At one point one of the biggest brands and niche retailers in the world, the company is now struggling to keep afloat. Until the Internet became big business it sailed the waves of success and was almost unstoppable as it bought similar companies left right and centre in a bid for toy world domination. However, the bubble burst when retailers caught onto the fact that they could shop far more conveniently online and also bag substantial discounts at the same time. Although Toys ‘R’ Us did jump onto the online bandwagon eventually, it was too late and it lost out to sites such as Amazon and e-Bay. The company is still around but only just, and it looks like the future is pretty bleak for the once giant of the high street.


Polaroid (and now Kodak)

The one thing these two highly successful camera companies never banked on was digital photography becoming as accessible and mainstream as it did so quickly. Yes they both knew it would happen eventually (who didn’t) but in the early to mid nineties they were so involved in improving on the cameras and ranges they had they completely bypassed a new type of technology which was edging into the market. The result was that electrical brands such as Panasonic, Casio and Samsung accelerated ahead, developing not only digital cameras but file sharing systems, printers and online storage systems leaving Polaroid and Kodak in the dark. They both attempted to rebrand recently and push everything towards a digital element, incorporating the Internet but failed miserably as frankly, they had been forgotten.



With its red sign, penny sweets and premature Christmas decorations Woolworths was always at the heart of any high street. However in November 2008 the chain, which had started out nearly a hundred years before closed it doors forever. The concept was so old fashioned at that point it is surprising the stores lasted as long as they did. Unfortunately Woolworths suffered the same fate that Toys ‘R’ Us has only just avoided, primarily because they didn’t adapt or cater to the online market. They may have had a chance if they had rebranded early on and embraced the web when today’s successes such as Tesco did so.

All images sourced from Wikipedia

This article was researched and produced by London based printing company, Print Express.

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