Written by Zach “I’ve Listened to All the Artists Mentioned” Dalton
Picture this: the year is 2011 and you just got dropped off at your local mall and have three hours to kill. You end up walking around and run into some of your friends. Together you wander the mall and land yourselves outside of an emo/punk themed store. The red and black lettering spell out “Hot Topic.” This seemed to be the height of the store’s popularity. Gothic and emo themed shirts, belts, bracelets, and even hair dye. Bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Panic! at the Disco boomed from the speakers. As the years progressed, the time of edgy, gothic shopping had come to an end. Many thought the “Dark Store of Retail” would finally meet its maker.
This was not the case. Hot Topic did what any other store would do facing changing times…it adapted. The store invested in a few bright lights, a bubblier soundtrack and even a new brand. Instead of embracing the goth culture that built it, the store has focused more on its namesake. The focus of Hot Topic seems to be…hot topics. T-shirts that had the face of Patrick Stump now show off Billie Eilish. Bracelets that were blue and pink proudly exclaiming “I Love Boobies” now admit “I Love BTS.” Even the lettering has changed. The once red, black, forbidden-looking lettering has been changed to a minimalistic black typeface that resembles something printed on a shipping box.
The biggest thing about Hot Topic’s rebranding isn’t that they took away the feeling of entering some dark, forbidden area to make your ol’ gram-gram swoon. No, it is the fact that they did this 180-style rebrand and made it work. In 2014 Hot Topic had 662 locations throughout America and Canada. As of 2019, the store has increased at 676 locations and a very active online store. Hot Topic has inadvertently taught a very valuable lesson; sometimes the best things to do is to embrace change and silently rebrand.