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The end wasn't inevitable

By Sam Liebeskind

DISH Network officially announced yesterday that Blockbuster will be closing its remaining U.S. retail stores and distribution centers – and it’s no surprise. Once a staple of video watching at home, Blockbuster had become very utilitarian – building and sustaining a brand that was tied too closely to the functional aspect of what it delivered. In people’s minds, Blockbuster = The Brick & Mortar Video Store.

Had they thought of themselves as being about ‘providing access to entertainment’ instead of as a 'video rental store’ - and taken steps to deliver on that bigger promise - they might still be thriving in a world where devices, digital and on-demand media consumption reign supreme. 

Other brands can and should learn from this: create a range of offers and tell stories about the benefit you provide to people, not just the functionality of what you do and have done. It’s the difference between 'why’ and 'what.' And it makes all the difference.

Sam Liebeskind is a strategist at Wolff Olins New York.