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Sears and Target Stores

It has become my habit, which derived from my profession, to look and to analyze businesses’ ambiance, environment and branding techniques of every space I walk into. Walking into a neighboring Sears I kept asking myself, what is Sears missing and what does Target, which is located very close, have? What makes Target a success when Sears is suffering tremendously? Being an entrepreneur and an architectural designer I would like to discuss some design aspects that I personally think could be improved to lift up Sears’ image.

If you missed it, read our last news letter on How Happiness has become a new Trend in Commercial Interiors of large companies.

Here are 4 improvements I can point out which you can personally experience entering the two stores Sears and Target:

1. Signage

There is nothing more important in any business’ design than the design of good and professionally done signage! Signage at the local Sears has very subdued undefined colors and shape. It is scattered randomly around the store in different colors and doesn’t help us to find what we need. The truth is, it is not professional-looking and lacks any hint of creativity.


Sears Store Signage

Signage at the local Sears has very subdued undefined colors and shape.

In opposition to the Sears store, Target has created very sharp, well-defined signage. We can immediately appreciate that Target researched their market, knows their own branding colors and is very aggressively using it.

Target Store Signage

Target Store Signage

Target’s signage is creative and fun to look at!

2. Colors and Images Used

Sears reminds us of a huge warehouse with no definition, pale colors and small, almost invisible images sprinkled around the store to get us excited about their products. But is it enough? Does it grab our attention and make us want to try on their clothes? I cannot say yes.

Sears Store Colors

Sears’ interior colors are very bland and do not give any emotions to the customers. The images are very small and hang too high for us to even notice.

Target on the other hand is full of action! It is a well known fact that the color RED provokes excitement and suggests love. Images of happy people having fun additionally reinforce this message! Yes, I do want to be happy, I do want to look like that, I do want to shop here! These are all the subliminal messages we are getting while looking at the Target store’s interior. I also would like to point out the creative use of Target’s logo throughout the store. It’s everywhere! It’s even a part of their walls patterns.

Target Store Colors

3. What is on SALE?

Sears has been practicing a very bad labeling system for years; people have to ask sales personnel about any discounts. How many times have you had an incident that the Sears product you thought was on sale is actually not when you got to the register? Sales signage at Sears is very small, almost unnoticeable, sometimes simply hard to figure out.

Sears Store Sales

Sears Sales signage.

When something is on sale at Target, you will know right away! Not only does Target have huge signs hanging throughout the store, and not only are self-serving scanners placed on every corner of each department, but the staff actually wear the sales ads on the backs of their bright red t-shirts! Now, that’s marketing!

Target Sales T-Shirts

4. User Experience

What do we see as we enter the Sears store? What is the Sears store all about? How do people move through Sears? What do they see first, what second, etc? What do they buy on the way out? I think I will leave all these questions for Sears to figure out.

In the end I would like to give you my design idea for Mission Valley Sears. This is a simple Photoshop rendering I did to to show how a shopper’s experience could be improved by simply adding some aspects of branding and design to this Sears store. Please let me know what you think!

Mission Valley Sears Design Idea

I’ve used Sears’ branding color for the signage and some accents on the floor. The ceiling could easily be painted to add that extra creative touch. I would illuminate the larger signs and make the sales signs to stand out more, again by using Sears’ bright red color from the logo.

If you missed it, read our last newsletter on How Happiness has become a new Trend in Commercial Interiors

If you would like to learn more about how to brand your business, read this book – “Branding By Interior.

Here are some responses I received on this post from LinkedIn.  Thank you everyone for participating!

Alex Newton • “Sears vs Target in Tennessee: Sears needs to drop mall anchors and move to free standing facilities. Additionally, Sears is looking more like Kmart everyday (fewer support, i.e. sales) associates. Sears has the ability to gain SUPER STORE status like WalMart and should study/apply that business plan. I can invision cross between WalMart & Home Depot/Lowe’s. Sears has a Home Improvement Company (Sears Holding) so bring it out of the dark for walk-in customers. Sears Holding sells home improvements (actual installations) which Lowes/Home Dept does not do or offer (that I’m aware of). Target is now offering limited grocery items (limited due to size of existing stores) which is a mistake. Still Target grabs you with popcorn when you enter (plus small eatery). WalMart has McDonalds. Sams Club has pizza. What makes a shopper eager to spend that a bite of food so you can spend more time (money) in the store. Sears needs to pay attention to McDonalds who is spending more money on associates to care for customers. I give Sears a failing grade at this point.”

Manda Wallbridge • “Fantastic article! I agree… on all aspects actually, and think that the proposed rendering that you did would be a tremendous improvement!”

Beppie Mostert LEED AP, CAPS, ASID • “Wonderful article, and I totally agree with your thoughts. The local Targets here in North County are also proactive and aggressive in their branding – reaching their market again and again. I totally avoid the Sears up here for those exact reasons. Your renderling is great and spot on! Hope someone high up at Sears is reading this and taking note.”

Nathan Grant • “Ekaterina, While you might be noticing the differences in design and creativity, I have seen this difference between these companies for years. If you really want to see a difference, another of the Sears brands, Kmart has been a disaster. I no longer go to Kmarts who basically should have the same idea as Target but they often have empty shelves, disorganized inventory and overall it is a terrible shopping experience. Hiring and maintaining a workforce that cares about their jobs and getting them to care about the store they work is is extremely important and to me, Target seems to get it when Kmart or Sears does not. Just my experiences and view.”

Jon Wainwright • ” The old saying..”You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression” holds true with both K-Mart and Sears. K-Marts are not as clean at Target Stores…even Wal-Mart has cleaned up their stores..better lighting,wider aisles and customer service representatives more visible. Sears has become the modern day Woolworth….they haven’t done much to enhance/improve their stale image….the old BRANDING “Sears…where America Shops” no longer is true. Value and quality of Merchandise hasn’t kept up with their competitors. Target has done a great job in name recognition,clean stores,helpful customer service and closing outdated stores and building the Super Targets…it becomes clear after visiting one of their new stores why Wal-Mart needs to step up their game.”