At the time, 24/7 Wall Street predicted that 10 brands, Sears among them, would not survive through the end of 2012. With 2012 not even here yet, Sears is already under intense pressure. But many of the other companies are also sagging. MySpace was sold in June, though the brand marches on, while Saab has declared bankruptcy. So, what companies should you be looking out for? The other seven businesses on the watch list included Sony Pictures, A&W Restaurants, American Apparel, Kellogg's Corn Pops, Soap Opera Digest, and Nokia.
Dan Gross, economics editor and columnist at Yahoo! Finance, said many of these companies, like Sears and MySpace, have experienced a steady drumbeat of bad news of bad news for years, only to hit a tipping point this year.
"The culture passes them by and a competitor rises up, where the competitors gain critical mass and make it really difficult for them to come back," Gross said. "Companies can limp along for a long time, but it's when a really strong competitor rises up that can put them out of their misery."
Gross said Borders was another example of that trend.
Karen Post, a branding expert and author of "Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference," said seemingly doomed companies can make a sudden turnaround.
"Miracles happen. The resources are out there. The creative people are out there," she said. "The companies just have to move away from what they've been doing. They've really got to look at how they can re-invent and be distinct and really be a brand warrior."
Gross said the rapid pace of technological change has made the life-cycle of companies even shorter. Take MySpace, for example. In three years, Gross said, the company went from being a utility to being irrelevant.
"That was undone by the juggernaut that is Facebook," he said. "It is really difficult to be in business today because of the cycles at which new products come out, at which people turn their attention away from brands, at which competitors arise from every part of the world, is so much faster than it was in the 90s, 80s and 50s."
Post said, while she certainly misses brands when they go away, it's not always a bad thing. It often means that new brands are coming to the front.
"Some brands live a life. Everything's not permanent. Maybe they go on the auction block and go away and in a few years, someone brings them back," Post said.