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Bye, bye brands: five iconic names that have shut shop

Neeraj Thakur | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 7:51 IST

American businessman Kevin Plank said: "Brand is not a product, that's for sure; it's not one item. It's an idea, it's a theory, it's a meaning, it's how you carry yourself. It's aspirational, it's inspirational."

Companies spend millions or dollars to build and keep their brands alive and we are all surrounded by these brands.

But nothing is permanent. Some of the biggest brands in the world have to shut down due to rapidly advancing technology or the arrival of newer brands in the same category.

Here are some of the brands that once ruled our imagination but no longer are in production:

1) VCR

In July this year Japanese company Funai Electric- the last maker of VHS-compatible video cassette recorders, popularly known as the VCR - stopped producing the device due to declining sales.

VCRs' were popular between the 1970s and 1990s and all over, the world including India, they defined the luxury of the affluent class.

Those who could not afford to buy it, rented it on a per-day basis to watch movies or home videos.

2) Kodak Cameras

Kodak has defined home photography for decades. It had to give up on its camera business as the company could not survive the increasing competition in digital technology.

Kodak had produced the first mass-market Brownie camera in the 1900s, priced at $1, with the slogan "You push the button, we do the rest".

In 1975 Kodak launched the first digital camera, which was the size of a toaster, and produced a 0.01 megapixel black and white images.

However, the company did not improve on this technology for the fear of cannibalising its business of chemicals for traditional film developing.

Ultimately the company lost out to other companies in Japan that flourished with more advanced technology.

3) RX 100 and RX 135

Those who rode motorbikes in India in the '80s and the '90s would swear by these two bikes from Yamaha.

Even today RX100 and RX 135 command a significant value in the second-hand bike markets of India.

The two stroke engine of these bikes provided a strong 'pick-up' that made them popular in a nation that was beginning to fall in love with mobikes

But over time, the country saw changes in fuel emission norms and the government phased out two-stroke engines in favour of four-stroke engines.

The company shut production of the RX 100 in 1996, as more, fuel-efficient and low-maintenance four-stroke bikes made their way into the market.

4) Maruti 800

Like RX 100 and RX 135 Indian consumers fell in love with another automobile. It was the Maruti 800.

For many years the brand was synonymus with company name itself. Maruti, for the middle class in India, meant the 800.

However, Maruti Suzuki had begun to phase-out Maruti 800 in 2010. Maruti Suzuki did not want to upgrade the brand to suit the Euro IV or BS IV emission norms.

Starting April 2010, Maruti halted sales of the car in 13 major cities:

In Jauary 2014, the company made its finally Maruti 800 car that was once known as a complete family car for the Indian middle class.

5) HMT watches

Janata, Pilot, Kohinoor, Tejas, Ravi, Akash, Jayant and Chirag: these were the different models of watches made by Hindustan Machine Tools watches that decked the Indian wrist from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Old timers say that HMT's Janata was known to be a favourite of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In January 2016 the government decided to shut down the HMT plants and that brought down the curtains on an iconic brand that defined the years, and times, of a socialist India.

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First published: 6 August 2016, 11:18 IST
Neeraj Thakur @neerajthakur2

As a financial journalist, his interface with the two dominant 'isms'- Marxism and Capitalism- has made him realise that an ideal economic order of the world would lie somewhere between the two.

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Neeraj writes on everything related to business and the economy.

He has been associated with Businessworld, DNA and Business Standard in the past.

When not thinking about stories, he is busy playing with his pet dog, watching old Hindi movies or searching through the Vividh Bharti station on his Philips radio transistor.