Weekly Re-Brand #32: RadioShack

Welcome to the Blade Weekly Re-Brand, a place for us to take a quick look at some of the rebranding going on in the world and give a quick impression of what went right and what went wrong.

In 2005, RadioShack Canada was sold and rebranded as The Source by Circuit City and then sold once more to Bell Canada and rebranded again to simply be The Source. The American counterpart, however, followed a different path, continuing on as RadioShack.

The old RadioShack logo (left) vs. the new RadioShack logo (right).
The old RadioShack logo (left) vs. the new RadioShack logo (right).

What was wrong with the old RadioShack?
As a Canadian, it’s difficult to say exactly the public presence that RadioShack has in the U.S., but from what I gather, it’s much the same as The Source here in Canada. That is to say that the stores are generally much smaller than their big-box competitors (BestBuy, FutureShop), lack a sophisticated feel, and are not considered “destination shopping” as many of their competitors are. In addition, RadioShack has not been doing particularly well in the U.S., with stock prices remaining low and the closing of hundreds of stores in the last decade.

Does the new version fix the problem?
The new logo does very little right; the iconic serifed ‘R’ has been replaced by a chunky bold sans-serif, causing it to look like a generic registered trademark symbol (®), rather than a proprietary logo, and the red has been dulled significantly. The camel case RadioShack has been replaced by the all lowercase radioshack and set against an awful brown backdrop that evokes Microsoft’s “It comes in brown!” marketing of the Zune. This is not what you want your “new and improved” logo to look like.

Exterior of the new RadioShack concept store.
Exterior of the new RadioShack concept store.

In any case, it’s hard to imagine what a logo update alone could do for an ailing brand like RadioShack, but luckily they have also introduced a new concept store in Manhattan, showcasing the future of the brand. Whereas the logo fails to bring new attention to the brand, the new store is practically revolutionary. Looking like it has more in common with the Apple Store than the hardware store look of RadioShacks past, it’s obviously cribbed some elements from BestBuy as well. The store is clean, classy, and spacious-looking even though it remains smaller than competitor’s stores. The branding and colours are consistent throughout (even if they aren’t great colours), and despite the new look, they still appear to carry a lot of product, something RadioShack is known for. In short: I would shop here.

Interior of the new RadioShack concept store.
Interior of the new RadioShack concept store.

What new problems are introduced?
Those new colours! Washed-out red and brown – what were they thinking?! The shape of the R symbol is now so close to the registered trademark symbol that it no longer evokes the brand. Maybe that will change with time, but it’s hard to imagine this rebranding will be so successful that it will overtake a generic symbol and reclaim it for the brand.

Another view of the interior of the new RadioShack concept store.
Another view of the interior of the new RadioShack concept store.

Is it an overall improvement?
The logo and colour palette are a huge step backwards, but the store is a great improvement. Normally I’d call this a wash, but the store is such an improvement that I would actually visit one when pricing out my latest tech purchase. I hate to give them a win with such an awful logo, but I have to conclude that overall this is an improvement (and I’d love to see it replace The Source in Canada). What do you think?

Do you think the new RadioShack is an improvement?

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Blade Studio

Featuring news and opinions on the latest rebrands, logos, ads and more from the designers in the Blade Studio.

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