A company in trouble may sometimes reach a critical state where only its brand can save it. Customers still trust the brand, but don’t really connect with the business. What’s required in these situations is a radical new way for the company to interact with its customers, across new value platforms, so that brand trust is converted into business growth. Companies may even revise their business models to give more traction to the brand.
Saving Sears from the retail death spiral
Newsday columnist Ellis Henican watched the great Sears brand slump toward irrelevance, drifting without purpose amid eroding financials and profit warnings. He asked innovation consultant Fahrenheit 212 in New York for ideas on how Sears might escape the retail death spiral—and still be “Sears.”
The result: a solution of “lifetime ownership.”
For a monthly fee priced like an insurance policy, customers will get a lifetime’s worth of home appliances or lawn-care equipment or auto repairs – delivered, maintained, upgraded and replaced by Sears.
Yes, it’s retail as a service. Of course, it’s an idea, not a plan. And we all know that executing on business reality is far more difficult than coming up with clever concepts. But as clever concepts go, this one has legs. First, it provides new value platforms for customers, with lots of room for brand innovation, and brand interaction. Second, it opens up new avenues of value creation for Sears. The result could be a unique win/win.
Plus, it integrates brand, business and customers. That’s always a good sign. The holistic brand context of “Sears” emerges even stronger.
Brands are avenues of value innovation
This idea to save Sears parallels our core definition of brand: “Brands are avenues of value innovation in a creative engagement between companies and their customers.” There’s certainly value innovation in the idea, new avenues, and the possibility of many levels of creative engagement between Sears and its customers. Enough, maybe, for a “lifetime.”
For those who may not like this idea, there are other options.