The online magazine Brandchannel has a useful paper on dead brands by Sunil Thomas and Chiranjeev Kohli, both marketing professors.
The paper is called “Reviving Weak and Dead Brands: Insights from Theory and Practice” and addresses cases that include Oldsmobile, PanAm, and Woolworth.
Their first recommendation is to increase the quality of the brand.
Their conclusion states:
Numerous brands including Harley-Davidson, Ovaltine, Puma, and Cadillac have demonstrated that brand death can be prevented. Managers need to constantly watch for signs of brand decline, in the form of problems with brand knowledge, brand differentiation, and customer response. Using a brand equity framework, we suggest that most brands with high levels of awareness or positive brand image are candidates for revival …