business news in context, analysis with attitude

Excellent piece in the LA Times in which Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s who built it from a single store in Santa Barbara in 1970 to a chain with more than a thousand locations that was sold to FedEx for $2.4 billion in 2004, bemoans the fact that the new owners are changing the chain’s name from FedEx Kinko’s to FedEx Office.

Saying that the decision hit him hard, Orfalea says that Kinko’s used to be about "shared power, shared profits, and shared knowledge," but that the Kinko’s he created "has been gone for a very long time."

KC's View:
My perception would be that Kinko’s – while it remains a vital concept for small businesses – has lost more than a few steps since FedEx acquired it. And if FedEx thinks that changing the name will rescue the brand, it is sadly mistaken…because changing the name just further diminishes whatever brand equity and consumer loyalty remain.

It should be pointed out, in all fairness, that Orfalea made the sale and, I assume, cashed the check. So I don't feel too sorry for him.

But it always is a shame to watch the decline of a once-great brand.

Other retail brand names should pay close attention. And learn.