Business Startup Brand Image Credit: Entrepreneur
Business Startup Brand Image Credit: Entrepreneur

The Power Of Old Brands

Can an old brand serve a new customer? The revivers of Slice are finding out.

Liz Brody

Remember Slice?

Not the pizza. Not the Grandmaster Slice hip-hop guy. The soft drink.

Even an answer of “kinda sorta” could mean money in the can for the people bringing back Slice, the ’90s PepsiCo pop. The twist: It won’t (sorry, diehards) deliver that sinfully sweet blast of sugary, citrusy nostalgia— nor will it be made by PepsiCo. The Slice hitting the shelves in 2019 is a 25-calorie sparkling water made purely with organic juice, and it’s based on a bet by two eagle-eyed entrepreneurs who wrested the trademark away from its original owner: Given how important branding has become, their theory goes, a startup can gain an instant advantage in the marketplace if it’s using a brand name that consumers are already familiar with…even if the product is different from what they remember.

There’s a certain illogic to this theory, but Chicago entrepreneur Mark Thomann has done it before. His company, Dormitus Brands, “pays homage to the idea of a sleeping giant that’s ready to wake up again,” he explains—which is to say, he watches for when companies allow their discontinued brands’ trademarks to lapse, and then he leaps in, claims ownership (which is perfectly legal), and revives them. He’s succeeded with Brim, which began life as a General Foods decaf staple of the ’70s (he turned it into a line of artisanal coffee equipment); the iconic audio equipment brand Ai

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