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RadioShack Tunes to a New Image


Image overhaul could be "too little, too late."

RadioShack (RSH) -- the store you pass on the way to the pet shop window -- is on the precipice of an image overhaul. Coming on the heels of a partnership with T-Mobile (DT) to sell its phones in-store, RadioShack will press its luck on a new name.

According to Engadget, new storefront signs will read The Shack sometime later this year -- a move that will likely garner a Cease and Desist from Mr. O'Neal soon after.

Like KFC (YUM) dropping the "Kentucky" and equally disparaging "Fried," the chain seems to be changing its name to appeal to a younger, hipper crowd. If there's one thing today's urban youth likes most, it's pushy salespeople beside a rack of transistors and electrolytic capacitors.

The company's re-branding is part of a massive bi-coastal event taking place from August 6th through 8th and promoted on its official website. Dubbed "The Shack Summer Netogether," the gala will feature 14-foot laptops in New York's Times Square and San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza streaming live video from one another. Bands and entertainers are set to perform in between games and contests.

Experts predict it will be the largest "netogether" in recent memory.

Writer Brian Heater at Gearlog surmises the re-branding might be in part of a move to larger locations -- which would mitigate its image as a primarily mall retailer. The chain also has been distancing itself from outdated electronics -- like scientific calculators and off-brand RC cars -- and focusing on laptops and HDTVs.

While removing "Radio" from its title would modernize the brand, the remaining "Shack" lends itself to the image of angry loners and survivalist militias -- groups consumers already associate with RadioShack.

And lest we forget, several Circuit City locations were renamed "The City." Didn't seem to help much.

The image overhaul seems to be a case of "too little, too late." Despite the boost in second quarter profits, the brand seemingly hasn't updated itself from the mid-80s -- appearing like a hobby shop that somehow went nationwide. From its limited selection to the uncomfortably close sales staff, RadioShack has a long way to be able to compete with Best Buy (BBY), Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT).

Then again, do those 3 Big Boxers have slightly used oscilloscopes at the ready?
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