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Business transformations: The good, the bad and the ugly

Every so often, the best businesses will get stuck in a rut. Maybe it doesn't attract consumers the way it used to, or maybe its consumers have abandoned it entirely, leaving the business to the sound of crickets and the sight of tumbleweeds.

When this happens, businesses are confronted with a stark choice: Change or die. Given that choice, most will choose "change," but it's not always that simple. A company has to be able to leave behind its well-established identity and its credibility as a brand, and it's not always successful.

For those businesses that have managed to meet the demands of a changing marketplace, there can be a new and sometimes greater degree of success. But it's a tricky balance to strike, and some businesses that have transformed have been met with a collective shrug at best and a Category 5 consumer revolt at worst.

Serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis of CNBC Prime's new reality series "The Profit" has made his fortune in part by turning companies around, so he's seen his share of businesses that successfully transformed, and those that couldn't. He said in an interview that "pride of authorship" is one of the most frequent pitfalls he's observed when a businesses has failed to reinvent itself successfully.

"Businesses come up with a specific format, or a specific product or process," he said. "They fall so in love with themselves that they don't listen to what the consumer wants, and they become obsolete. … They don't anticipate tomorrow." But what about the successful ones?

"What I see is an acknowledgement of best practices," he said. "If it's a peer, you recognize what they do well and you recognize what they don't do well. When I go to a service-oriented company, I pay a lot of attention to what they're doing that creates a good experience, and I ask how I can correlate that to my life. I study, listen, learn and replicate."

Which companies have had notable transformations, for better or for worse? Read ahead to find out.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 29 July 2013

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