Special Report

29 Iconic Brands That Completely Collapsed, And We Forgot

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Every company aspires to build a successful brand, something that stands on it’s own merits and is broadly recognized by consumers everywhere. These 29 brands were once at the top of their respective industries. People everywhere knew their names, products, and logos.

But despite all this success, they eventually collapsed in on themselves. Competitive pressures, new technologies, and changing consumer tastes eventually became too much to bear. See how many of the names you recognize below.

Blockbuster

  • Launch Year: 1985
  • Quick Summary: A cultural icon in the 1990s, known for its extensive network of video rental stores.
  • Current Status: Nearly extinct, with the rise of digital streaming services.

Pan Am

Source: stefanholm / iStock via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1927
  • Quick Summary: A major American airline, celebrated for its pioneering aviation achievements and luxury services.
  • Current Status: Ceased operations in 1991.

Borders

Source: bitterfly / Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1971
  • Quick Summary: A global book and music retailer, famed for its large stores and extensive selection.
  • Current Status: Went out of business in 2011.

Circuit City

  • Launch Year: 1949
  • Quick Summary: An electronics retailer known for a wide range of products and Warrantech extended warranties.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2008; brand now used for online retailing.

Compaq

Source: courtesy of Leonid Mamchenkov, via Wikimedia

  • Launch Year: 1982
  • Quick Summary: An early leader in personal computing, known for innovation in PCs.
  • Current Status: Merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002.

Polaroid

Source: amazon.com

  • Launch Year: 1937
  • Quick Summary: Famous for its instant cameras and film, a major player in photography.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2001; brand now used under license by other companies.

Toys “R” Us

Source: Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

  • Launch Year: 1948
  • Quick Summary: A world-renowned toy retailer, known for its large selection and iconic mascot.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2017, with some international stores still operational.

Woolworths (U.S.)

Source: HelenOnline / Wikimedia Commons

  • Launch Year: 1879
  • Quick Summary: Popularized the five-and-dime store concept; known for its lunch counters.
  • Current Status: Closed in 1997; Foot Locker is a remnant of the company.

Kodak

Source: wellesenterprises / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1888
  • Quick Summary: A dominant force in photographic film and cameras.
  • Current Status: Emerged from bankruptcy in 2013; focuses on imaging for businesses.

RadioShack

Source: RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1921
  • Quick Summary: Known for consumer electronics and components for hobbyists.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2015; some stores still operate under new ownership.

DeLorean Motor Company

Source: moisseyev / Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1975
  • Quick Summary: Produced the iconic DeLorean sports car, famous from “Back to the Future.”
  • Current Status: Ceased production in 1982; name and parts bought by a separate company.

Tower Records

Source: filonmar / E+ via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1960
  • Quick Summary: A global music retail giant, known for its vast selection.
  • Current Status: Liquidated in 2006; brand lives on in Japan.

Enron

Source: Dave Einsel / Getty Images News via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1985
  • Quick Summary: An American energy company infamous for one of the largest accounting frauds.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Arthur Andersen

Source: jondpatton / E+ via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1913
  • Quick Summary: Once a leading accounting firm, collapsed after the Enron scandal.
  • Current Status: Ceased operations in 2002.

Hummer

Source: David McNew / Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1992
  • Quick Summary: Known for its large, rugged SUVs, symbolizing excess.
  • Current Status: Brand discontinued in 2010; revived as an EV sub-brand by GMC in 2020.

Saab Automobile

  • Launch Year: 1945
  • Quick Summary: Swedish car manufacturer known for innovative and unique designs.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2011; parts of the company still operate under NEVS.

Palm, Inc.

Source: davidwilson1949 / Flickr

  • Launch Year: 1992
  • Quick Summary: Pioneer in PDAs and early smartphone technology.
  • Current Status: Acquired by HP in 2010; brand no longer used.

BlackBerry Limited

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

  • Launch Year: 1984
  • Quick Summary: Known for BlackBerry smartphones, a staple in business communication.
  • Current Status: Stopped making phones in 2016; focuses on software and cybersecurity.

Oldsmobile

Source: DarthArt / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1897
  • Quick Summary: One of America’s oldest car brands, known for automotive innovation.
  • Current Status: Brand phased out by General Motors in 2004.

Pontiac

  • Launch Year: 1926
  • Quick Summary: American car brand known for sporty models like the GTO and Firebird.
  • Current Status: Discontinued

Mercury

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1938
  • Quick Summary: A former division of Ford, known for mid-range cars between Ford and Lincoln models.
  • Current Status: Discontinued by Ford in 2010.

AltaVista

Source: standret / iStock via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1995
  • Quick Summary: One of the first widely-used internet search engines.
  • Current Status: Shut down in 2013 after being overshadowed by more advanced search engines like Google.

Napster

Napster logo with headphones on a keyboard
Source: Shutterstock

  • Launch Year: 1999
  • Quick Summary: A pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing platform, known for digital music sharing.
  • Current Status: Shut down in its original form in 2001; later reborn as a legal, subscription-based service.

Tower Air

Source: Skyhobo / E+ via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1983
  • Quick Summary: A low-cost airline known for flying to New York, Miami, and international destinations.
  • Current Status: Ceased operations in 2000.

Pets.com

Source: Getty Images / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

  • Launch Year: 1998
  • Quick Summary: An early online retailer for pet supplies, famous for its sock puppet mascot.
  • Current Status: Went bankrupt in 2000; known as a symbol of the dot-com bubble’s burst.

Sharper Image

Source: kohls.com

  • Launch Year: 1977
  • Quick Summary: Retailer known for high-end, unique, and innovative electronics and lifestyle products.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2008; now operates primarily as an online retailer.

Gymboree

Source: jjbers / Flickr

  • Launch Year: 1976
  • Quick Summary: Children’s apparel and accessories retailer, known for its colorful and quality kids’ clothing.
  • Current Status: Filed for bankruptcy in 2019; brand acquired by The Children’s Place.

Esprit

Source: Shutterstock

  • Launch Year: 1968
  • Quick Summary: International fashion brand known for its youthful and vibrant style.
  • Current Status: Struggled with declining sales; significantly reduced global presence.

MG Rover

Source: Shutterstock

  • Launch Year: 2000
  • Quick Summary: British car manufacturer, formed from the remnants of the former Rover Group.
  • Current Status: Went into administration in 2005; brand and assets acquired by Chinese manufacturers.

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