How Long Will A Legendary Chain's Brand Last Online? In Circuit City's Case, Only Three Years

So much for the enduring power of big-box brands. On Halloween (Oct. 31), the owner of Circuit City and CompUSA's brands decided to kill the online remnants of the former chains, redirecting traffic to Systemax bought CompUSA's Web site and 16 stores in 2008 for $30 million, picked up Circuit City's intellectual property and some stores in 2009 for $14 million, and then relaunched the E-Commerce sites. Now Systemax will spend even more money to bury those brands.

It's not clear how much the brand-kill decision may have been influenced by terms of the Circuit City brand acquisition, which required Systemax to pay a certain percentage of all revenue generated under the Circuit City name. Still, both these names were legendary just a few years ago, and Systemax paid millions for the names. Less than five years later, they're apparently no longer worth the trouble. It looks like the half-life of big-chain brands is shrinking fast. After all, when was the last time you thought about Borders? And that was just a year ago.