Tough Times for Tarnished Icons

Shares of marquee American brands like Kodak and Gap have languished as upstarts conquer their turf. What will it take to restore their luster?

Would a brand by any other name smell as sweet? Last week's business headlines saw a bid for—and reports of takeover interest in—two companies that stand behind gold-plated American brands that have lately been lackluster. Dow Jones (DJ), publisher of The Wall Street Journal, disclosed receipt of a bid from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS), and press reports swirled of Microsoft's (MSFT) interest in Yahoo! (YHOO) as a strategic move to counter search giant Google's (GOOG) online ad dominance.

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