Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?

Discussion
May 10, 2019
George Anderson

After spending decades on a downward spiral, Sears is looking to make a brand new start. The big question is will anyone buy it? The department store retailer recently debuted a new logo as part of a rebranding effort and, while some reviews have been positive, many are not.

The logo symbol, which some have derisively compared to Airbnb’s, is meant to symbolize “a home, embrace and heart,” according to one post by Sears on its Facebook page. “It represents everything you need to build a home and a life you love!”

Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?
Source: Sears

The new logo is intended to complement the retailer’s new tagline — “Making Moments Matter” — to establish Sears’ role in providing products and services that contribute to those times that are most important in the lives of Americans. A Facebook post from the chain, for example, shows a photo of a mother and daughter dancing together in dresses from Sears surrounded by home furnishings, also sold by the retailer.

A short scroll on Sears’ Facebook page turned up positive comments on the new logo with wishes of good luck for the chain. Those that are critical, however, do jump off the page.

“The new symbol for bankruptcy.”

“Is this like Prince? Are they now the retail store formally known as Sears?”

“Trying to scare away your last seven customers, lol?”

“They trademarked a paper clip.”

“Thought it would say RIP.”

Sears is now owned by Transform Holdco, which is controlled by Edward Lampert, the former CEO and chairman of Sears Holdings. Many, including what’s left of Sears Holdings, blame Mr. Lampert for the department store’s demise. In a lawsuit filed last month, Sears Holdings charged Mr. Lampert and his ESL Investments with systematically stripping the company of its most valuable assets — “billions of dollars” it could have used to have avoided bankruptcy altogether.  

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the new Sears logo and tagline? What will it take for Sears to achieve a successful rebranding?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"In all honesty, they have tried too long and with too many iterations to make much of anything work now."
"Customers have long since given up on Sears as evidenced by their declining sales. Nothing here tells those customers why they should come back."
"The new Sears branding looks very similar to Belk, who by the way just hired a NY agency to rebrand itself. Isn’t that ironic?"

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30 Comments on "Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?"


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Art Suriano
BrainTrust

So many people would love for Sears to make it because of the memories many of us my age and older have of the company when we were growing up. That said, it’s sad to companies who miss the obvious and focus on the unnecessary. A new logo? New ad campaign? What’s different in the store? That’s what matters. You can put all the glitter and gold in the ad but when the customer walks into the store and sees it’s still the same old tired Sears nothing is going to change. Let’s look at the store design, product mix, store associates, customer service and so on. Only when those needs have been addressed and updated to today’s standards and requirements should Sears be worried about a new logo and ad campaign. I doubt the new campaign will do much if anything for Sears and I would have preferred those dollars be spent investing in their stores.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Right on the money, Art. Marketing 101: Fix the product and/or customer experience before developing a new tagline and ad message, not after.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

The tagline (“Making Moments Matter”) is meaningless unless you’re a fan of alliteration. How does it define the goods and services that Sears is still trying to sell? How does it convince shoppers that there is something new about an in-store experience that became fatally stale? The slogan is so generic that it could be applied to a fast-casual restaurant, a hotel chain, an online florist…fill in the blank.

As to the logo itself, it’s too abstract to suggest “a home, embrace and heart” to this observer. And with Sears’ shrinking footprint, will any of this make the company relevant again?

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Lampert ended up an owner in Newco? Feh. Beyond that, Sears had some fundamental problems that aren’t fixed by a logo and branding. No real strategy around what to sell, and how to fill up the space in its remaining stores.

But if word gets around that Lampert still controls ownership, people like me won’t even buy a lint brush there.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is a non-starter. A waste of time, energy and money. It’s not even lipstick on a pig. Look at all the great attributes the pig has! It keeps getting back to “why?” Why is this being drawn out over the y…e…a…r…s…? Why is this the best use of Mr. Lampert’s time, energy and capital? It just gets more and more curious.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Unfortunately for Sears, as long as Mr. Lampert is in charge, nothing will change Sears’ reputation as a late-night punchline. It’s very sad.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Pardon me but it still says Sears and it still *is* Sears on the inside and that does not bring to mind great products and services at the moment. In all honesty, they have tried too long and with too many iterations to make much of anything work now. The public wants to like them but that is just about all. For my 2 cents.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Ron Johnson started with the logo at J.C. Penney too. Logos don’t matter, execution does. Enough said.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

New ads, new branding, new logo – these do nothing to tell consumers WHY they should shop at Sears. Customers have long since given up on Sears as evidenced by their declining sales. Nothing here tells those customers why they should come back – where are the new products? Has the mix changed? Are stores any different than they were last year besides a new logo on the door? And what about associates? Has their training changed? Are they now better equipped to serve customers? The lack of strategy is deafening. I’m with Paula on this one – knowing Lampert is still in control is enough reason for me to stay away. As much as I’d love to see this brand resurrect itself, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. As I’m sure Steve Dennis will say – this is a dead brand walking. The death spiral will continue, it’s only a matter of time now.

Ron Margulis
BrainTrust

Not to be mean about it, but I have to wonder what Sears paid for the logo and tagline. $100 would have been way too much.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

A new logo won’t do much unless it’s backed up by a solid merchandising plan. Sears came back in the ’90s with “The Softer Side of Sears” campaign. It was effective, but unfortunately the company didn’t stick with it very long.

Logos are funny things; people get attached to them because of what they represent. I remember when Gap spent 1.7 million dollars to change its logo from a blue square with its name in the center, to just the word “Gap” with a small blue box offset over the P. The Internet went crazy and soon there was a website where you could save a bundle and “crap your own logo.”

Far be it from me to wish ill on any retailer or write them off too soon. Let’s wait and see what Sears does next.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Logo and taglines don’t build a brand but emphasize inherent company qualities and values. It’s difficult to imagine a much different Sears under the same leadership and mindset. Mr. Lampert has proven without any doubt an inability to understand retail as a business rather than retail as an ATM in a real estate and asset play.

Unfortunately, as long as he has full control of the new Sears, Mr. Lampert will continue on his old path; a reasonable person cannot be compelled to think otherwise. Mr. lampert can change all that by actually investing in the future and rebuilding from the ground up rather than from a logo and tagline. The former is hard work, the latter is no more than applying lipstick on a pig. Time to hear more about the second act from the new Sears.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Credit to the agency that grabbed some of Eddie’s money for coming up with the logo and tag line. That’s the only positive thing I can say about this folly.

Scott Norris
Guest

Hope they got paid in cash, up front.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

The new Sears branding looks very similar to Belk, who by the way just hired a NY agency to rebrand itself. Isn’t that ironic?

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

There is nothing wrong with rebranding or refreshing a brand. However, it needs to be done as part of an integrated strategy change and not just as a cosmetic exercise to cover other failings. I am afraid that Sears’ rebrand seems to fall into this latter category.

In my opinion, there are two further issues. The first is that Sears has yet to update all of its assets with the last two brand changes (made in 2004 and 2010) and many stores still sport old logos. This does not bode well. The second is that I am not entirely sure what Sears is trying to convey with the new brand: I kind of get what they want to say with the messaging but it still lacks clarity, focus and oomph.

In short, I see very little here to change my view on Sears. The only positive thing I can say is at least they are trying something, even if it doesn’t entirely cut it!

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

I thought Sears was always about everything for the home. Do they really need a new logo? They just need products, atmosphere, customer service, environment, and prices to create a new image. The new image is not about the logo. Don’t tell me about the change, show me.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

In two words: Not much. Like many BrainTrusters, I’ve done more than my fair share of branding work and, frankly, the logo just doesn’t work. As for the tagline; brand tagline is a promise. In the case of retailing the store experience is the artifact that establishes the truth — or lack thereof — of that promise. So again like many of my RetailWire friends, I say fix the stores first and then think about a rebrand. As to what it will take to make this a success — how about a miracle?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Even were this a well-executed logo re-design, Sears would need to expect that four or five years of consistent execution would be needed before significant economic payout would be seen.

This reminds me of the desperation of Kmart’s Spike Lee ads released as the chain rushed dizzyingly toward bankruptcy. An impotent attempt to say “we care” which communicates only with the industry observers and not at all with consumers.

Even the Sears logic is bland and boring. What department store DOESN’T feature a mom and daughter dancing in an ad once a year? It’s what everyone else does.

And that is Sears’ problem: they do what everybody else does but not as well.

This so-called “rebrand” is a big yawn.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

The logo and the tagline are fine. The problem is the word “Sears” which is a brand that has a less-than-desirable image and reputation. Rebranding Sears would be more successful if they created a new brand that is not associated with Sears. Making lemonade from rotten lemons is a recipe for disaster.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Sears is dead. Re-branding will do little to change the negative mindset that most consumers have of Sears. Time to have them exit the U.S. retail landscape.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

The generation of people holding on to memories of Sears and their catalog glory days is dwindling to a very few. And those few, like the rest of the buying world, have found other places giving better values and lower prices than Sears. Rebranding is not going to fix what ails Sears. I think it is time to say goodbye (again).

John Hyman
Guest
15 days 9 hours ago

It’s like a dying, decrepit small town running a campaign to attract visitors. What is their impression when they arrive?

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

The logo is not the problem, merchandising and customer experience is. Not sure how the logo ties into the core brand value of Sears. Actually I am not sure what the core brand value of Sears is today, which is the bigger problem.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It’s an old joke that when some bore begins to tell the same story — again — you try and distract. So my new response to any question about Sears — Sears? — is going to be, “hey, how BOUT those A’s?!”

William Passodelis
Guest
15 days 4 hours ago

I do not want to be mean, and all I can say is Good Luck. But I am certain that a lot of people are saying, “Is Sears still open?!”

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

It’s hard to watch such a well-known brand continue to try and fail over and over again. As much as I want to passionately say how this new logo and tag line are ineffective and explain why, I really just can’t find the energy to care about Sears anymore.

kinshuk mishra
Guest
14 days 6 hours ago

Rebranding is a waste of money for anybody till they fundamentally change something in their merchandise strategy.

Anne-Marie Kovacs
Guest

The logo is the least of their problems. Giving the logo any attention is such a frivolity when there are so many problems that need addressing. Seems consistent with how priorities are set within the company, huh?

There has been so much damage done to this brand. In the face of this, presenting new logo and a tagline devoid of any credible factors can only cause major eye rolls.

Andrea Leigh
Guest

Sears main value — for decades — was via their hardlines private labels, Craftsman and Kenmore. Now that they’ve sold off their most valuable assets (big mistake IMO), I’m dubious they’ll find a new value prop.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"In all honesty, they have tried too long and with too many iterations to make much of anything work now."
"Customers have long since given up on Sears as evidenced by their declining sales. Nothing here tells those customers why they should come back."
"The new Sears branding looks very similar to Belk, who by the way just hired a NY agency to rebrand itself. Isn’t that ironic?"

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