4 missteps that doom companies to irrelevance

Even for popular brands, steaming toward a particular objective requires careful navigation and clear vision at the helm.

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Some months ago The Limited shut down its 250 clothing stores; not long after that, the women’s apparel chain announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection.

Just like that, a company that had been a mainstay of shopping malls across America disappeared from the retail front.

Several factors came into play, including an inability to compete with “fast fashion” stores that rush the latest fashions into consumers’ hands, as well as the chain’s sale several years ago to a private equity firm that cut costs but couldn’t find a buyer.

However, analysts also suggested that, like many retailers, The Limited failed to keep up with dramatic changes in shopping habits and quick-changing fashion sensibilities, making it less relevant to its target consumers.

Though it’s not unusual for brands to eddy toward irrelevancy, it’s also not inevitable.

A company can innovate itself out of a death spiral. Just as an example, IBM may have lost its relevance in computers and laptops, but it saved itself by focusing on servers, information and cloud computing.

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