Don’t Do Stupid Stuff to Your Brand

Your brand is important. In the end, it’s the sum total of what people think of your company. If your customers are fans of your brand, you can weather a lot of storms and maintain their loyalty. If the connection is tenuous, any misstep can sink you.

If you have worked hard to build and maintain a brand, the one thing you want to avoid is misguided corporate action that could tarnish it.

Case in point: Sears. They’ve had some tough times lately, with a lot of their troubles self-inflicted, but there are still those of us who believe in the brand. For us guys, the quality of their Craftsman tools and their guarantees for those tools has a lot to do with that.

For a while, I was losing faith in Sears. But some extremely positive product purchases in the last few years, coupled with a great local store staff and excellent repair experiences, has rekindled that faith.

So with that in mind, I was receptive when the Sears Whole Home Warranty people called. The offer sounded good – too good to be true, in retrospect – but it was Sears, and my recent experiences clouded my judgment. Foolishly, I never even checked out the warranty service’s website, or I would have seen the unrelentingly bad reviews.

Now, after a horrible experience with this operation, I have to wonder why Sears ever saw fit to associate their name with this scam. It’s actually a warranty service run by a third party, and they leverage the Sears name to suckers like me for obvious reasons.

Sure, Sears has had more than its share of corporate troubles in the past, but this is the business equivalent of turning to prostitution to make ends meet. I’ve lost a lot of respect for the company because of this, but aside from my experience, there’s a lesson here for companies struggling to make it in today’s super-competitive marketplace.

That lesson is, always be conscious of your good name and be wary of any action that could taint that. Even if you think you have a loyal core that will stand with you no matter what, think again. Once you’ve done enough damage, all the marketing and public relations and “rebranding” in the world won’t get you back to where you were.