The time customers spent in the stores? With an outdated logo and brand message, a less-than-appealing store experience and a failure to embrace influencers and partnerships, Sears struggled to form a personal connection with consumers. Its logo hasn’t seen a serious update since the '80s, and Sears’s most recent rebrand -- nearly a decade ago in 2010, when the “Life. Connect to your customer across all brand messaging. Aside from the branding elements that connect a company’s identity to the consumer, the brick-and-mortar store experience is an extension of that identity and needs to be engaging. For example, stores like Target offer layouts that feel natural, fresh and inviting. Even if your “store” isn’t brick-and-mortar, customers should still get that same feeling of seamless, intuitive shopping. The key here is to find the influencers your target market is already listening to, then to create a partnership that feels like a natural fit. Consumer experience and the connections made through brand messaging are the key drivers of an authentic and well-received company brand. Well spent” was not the experience or connection it was offering through its stores, its ads or logo, other brands are doing this.
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For Sears, the tagline “Life. Well spent” ultimately didn’t resonate with its consumers. The time customers spent in the stores? It was time that wasn’t well spent. Sears’s marketing dollars? Those weren’t well spent, either.
In sum, this previously iconic chain buckled over time beneath its inability to adapt to today’s brand expectations. The result was that just this week, Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
How did this downfall happen? The answer is that in addition to the decisions Sears, the company, made in the boardroom, it made missteps for its brand. With an outdated logo and brand message, a less-than-appealing store experience and a failure to embrace influencers and partnerships, Sears struggled to form a personal connection with consumers. And those failures belonged to what had once been one of America’s most iconic brands.
Alternately, maintaining relevancy and building an authentic connection with its customers could have taken Sears a long way. The following lessons can be easily applied to brands and businesses of all sizes — whether you’re talking a huge department chain like Sears or just one single boutique online store:
1. A branding refresh can go a long way.
An initial brand impression is pretty much the only opportunity a company has to pull a customer in. Over time, it needs to reinvent its brand without losing its core mission and identity. To evolve ahead of the curve, the brand needs to know the appropriate time to push fresh concepts, recapture its customers’ attention and bring the brand back into relevancy.
One of the first problems with Sears is its drab, out-of-date branding. Its logo hasn’t seen a serious update since the ’80s, and Sears’s most recent rebrand — nearly a decade ago in 2010, when the “Life. Well spent” tagline was introduced — fell flat. The Sears logo and brand presentation dated the company backward during a critical period of growth in a competitive space.
Because logos can often be the very first brand impression people see, it’s critical for a company to continuously evaluate and reevaluate its logo. Does it resonate with customers? Does it remain true to the company’s core identity while still being current? Are the associated brand elements easily understood? Modern updates to a brand identity, especially the logo, can help a brand maintain old relationships and capture the attention of new brand loyalists.
2. Connect to your customer across all brand messaging.