Editor's note: This article is part of a series exploring the characteristics of brand admiration, including why it matters and how B2B and B2C businesses can benefit from investing it. To find out more about what brand admiration is, read the first article.
There was a time—before Amazon became Amazon—when Sears was one of the world's most revered retail brands. In fact, when my wife and I bought our first house in 2004, I remember my parents reacted incredulously to the suggestion that we'd buy appliances from any store other than Sears. To them, Sears was the definition of service and reliability, which meant that buying from anyone else was foolhardy.
That perspective makes sense when you consider the historical context. When my parents were growing up, Sears had earned that reputation. Its in-store service was legendary, and its treatment of customers, employees, and stakeholders was unmatched.
By 2004, however, the brand's actual reputation didn't at all resemble my parents' perception of it. And today, Sears's bottom line is suffering the consequences. In the second quarter of 2016, in-store sales fell $310 million and the company's market share fell to half of what it was 20 years ago.
So, what went wrong?
A Playbook for the Destruction of a Brand
It's hard to distill Sears' collapse down to a few simple screw-ups.
Some of the brand's failure is the result of massive changes in the competitive landscape (Amazon...), and some of it can be attributed to radically different consumer behavior. Furthermore, it's not like Sears is the only large—and formerly revered—brick-and-mortar retailer to fall on hard times. Just ask RadioShack or Blockbuster.