Quick, Name Sears' Marketing Slogan: Inside Their Branding Collapse

Last Updated May 4, 2010 4:18 PM EDT

The recent departure of the second chief marketing officer Sears has lost since financier Edward Lampert took control and turned the iconic brand into part of Sears Holding (SHLD) provides an occasion to take a look at the company's marketing. Lately, it's been so unmemorable that chances are you don't know Sears' current slogan off the top of your head.

To end the suspense, their current tagline is "Life. Well spent." Which Sears' managers apparently love so much that on the company Web site, the words are printed in almost illegibly teeny type in bitty sans-serif letters about one pixel wide.

You know a company is in trouble when it's one of the biggest and best-known retailers in America, but it's difficult to recall their current tagline. Really, it's hard to call to mind any Sears marketing campaign since "Come see the softer side of Sears" in the early 1990s.

The company's marketing budget has been shrinking, and weak messaging with fewer impressions isn't a recipe for success. With the revolving door the top marketing slot has been, Sears is having difficulty getting traction.

Maybe Sears managers could take a cue from sister company Kmart -- it doesn't have a slogan at all on its Web site. It's simply "Kmart." Their fliers do have a tagline, though, which has made equally little dent as Sears' own -- "There's smart, and there's Kmartsmart." Which caused one branding wag to snark, "Hands up if you ever in your life associated Kmart with the word 'smart.'"

Sears Holdings needs to do better if it's going to compete with resurgent department stores such as Macy's. It's time for managers to do some deep thinking on what these brands stand for in today's competitive landscape, and how that could be communicated so that it sticks in the brain.

Photo via Flickr user robinsonsmay

  • Carol Tice

    Carol Tice is a longtime business reporter whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times, and Nation's Restaurant News, among others. Online sites she's written for include Allbusiness.com and Yahoo!Hotjobs. She blogs about the business of writing at Make a Living Writing.