Great article on the top business comebacks of the past 20 years as seen in FastCompany.com. Understanding how dynamic brands fail and recover is important as we are in a new market where trends shift more quickly and traditional brands have to reinvent themselves to survive. We all need to stay in touch with our consumer and what they need from our goods, products and services, and we must change as we see the markets change. Understanding ones consumer is job number one, and The Page Group works hard to help you understand who your consumer is and how they connect with your brand/company.
In our fast-changing, startup-crazed economy, it can seem like only the newest companies have the agility to thrive. But entrepreneurship can propel businesses of all sizes and ages—look no further than Apple, which almost foundered in the late ’90s before Steve Jobs resurrected it to become the most valuable company in the world. In our estimation, Apple’s triumph is absolutely the No. 1 business comeback of the last two decade.
So what are the other biggest turnarounds of the past 20 years—and what can we learn from them? As part of our 20th anniversary (Fast Company’s first issue appeared in November 1995), we’ve identified the top business comebacks of the past two decades. Check out the rest of the list, and use the comments section below to tell us which business comebacks have impressed you the most:
Once the world’s most revered automaker, GM faced disaster in the late 2000s when it filed for bankruptcy and laid off tens of thousands of workers. Which makes it all the more extraordinary that just a year after the federal government’s bailout plan earned it the -sarcastic nickname “Government Motors,” the company roared back to profitability. After trimming costs and killing its struggling Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer divisions, GM went public again, raising roughly $20 billion. By the end of 2013, the government had sold off the last of its GM shares, capping a remarkable turnaround that saved an estimated 1.2 million jobs.
As the home of Spider-Man, Captain America, and other iconic characters, Marvel has long been the comic-book world’s biggest player. But in the mid-1990s the comics market crashed, Marvel went broke, and there was no superpower strong enough to stave off bankruptcy. But fear not! After restructuring, our hero changed its approach, focusing on movies rather than paper and ink. Today, Iron Man, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and X-Men are all billion-dollar franchises, and the company’s master plan—to connect many of its characters in a single cinematic universe—has turned it into one of pop culture’s most powerful brands.
After evolving from a fleet of crop-dusting biplanes into one of the nation’s biggest airlines, Delta was in trouble by the mid-2000s. Squeezed by higher fuel prices and disrupters like JetBlue and Southwest, it was forced to file for bankruptcy. But after renegotiating union contracts and expanding its fleet with used planes instead of costly new ones, among other things, Delta once again took flight. In 2013, 120.4 million passengers boarded Delta planes—more than any other airline.
Sometimes too much success can mean trouble. In the 2000s Starbucks overexpanded, -diluting profits and damaging the brand (not every corner needs a Starbucks). By late 2008 net income had fallen dramatically, cutting the stock price in half. A look at how Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz turned things around:
1. CUT THE LOSSES
1. CUT THE LOSSES
Schultz decided to shut down 900 underperforming stores, which reduced staffing and leasing costs. That also allowed him to invest more in the Starbucks outlets that had been working the best.
2. FIX THE EXPERIENCE
In 2008, Schultz closed all 7,100 U.S. Starbucks stores for three hours to retrain baristas in the art of pulling espresso. He did away with automatic machines and introduced a retooled house coffee, Pike Place.
3. BE MORE WELCOMING
Encouraging customers to take a seat, Schultz introduced free Wi-Fi at all Starbucks locations in 2010. In 2014, stores began upgrades to wireless Powermat charging stations for mobile devices. No more plug hunting