At a time when the 125-year-old retailer is against the ropes, Sears is rebranding.
It makes good business sense for the company to rebrand now. Once widely considered as the store that changed America, Sears declared bankruptcy back in October 2018 in an effort to stay afloat after a long string of mistakes. The company has closed thousands of stores in recent years, which turned its old logo into a very visible symbol of its debacle across shopping malls all over suburban America.
The new design, which follows the company’s new tagline, “making moments matter,” aims to change that. First, there’s a new wordmark, set in all-lowercase, sans-serif type that follows the prevailing trend in startup branding at the moment (call it sans-serifitis). The company also debuts a new logo, which, according to a statement on Facebook, was “created to represent both home and heart.” The shape “also conveys motion through an infinity loop, reminiscent of one getting their arms around both home and life.”
“The rings, like those of a tree trunk, show longevity,” Sears continues, “with home and heart at the center, the rings radiate and grow to encompass our broad assortment of products and services.”
The design has come under fire from armchair critics online, with some commentators pointing out that the logomark bears a resemblance to Airbnb’s own logo. (I’ve reached out to Sears for comment and will update this post when I hear back.)
Sears has struggled since the 1990s, when former CEO Arthur Martinez diversified its business to include everything from clothing to insurance. A 1993 ad campaign touted “The Softer Side of Sears,” a sentiment not unlike the new “Making moments matter” tagline. In 2004, hedge fund manager Eddie Lambert, who stepped down after the 2018 bankruptcy, bought the company and merged it with another beleaguered retail giant: Kmart. He eliminated flagship stores but left weak-performing stores in struggling malls.
Today, in 2019, the company is under new management, and perhaps a new logo could reframe the brand in the minds of consumers. Still, as legendary designer Paul Rand taught Steve Jobs when he was working on the NeXT logo, a brand alone can’t make–or save–a company.