It's been fun to see your interesting responses to our most recent podcast: "Could SEARS be Saved??" (available on iTunes here)

Some talked about always smelling, and then buying, fresh roasted cashes at SEARS. A few compared SEARS's issues to JC Penney's recent lurch into image confusion. Others remembered the tools and old school service. We even heard from an ex VP of marketing for Craftsman who had a very interesting perspective on their current problems. Thank you all for writing.

Here's a quick addendum to that podcast's story:

Stopping off the highway near Wheeling, WV last week we stop at a Kmart. Pulling up to the building, it's odd because the Kmart is attached to a mall and the parking lot is almost completely empty. It looks like this:

Worse yet, both sets of doors facing the road are closed up. Sealed! Even the door handles have been removed:

We figure the Kmart is closed and head around to the other side to see if anything else is open. And there, on the far side, the side facing away from the road, the traffic and the customers, we find a cleverly hidden entrance to a Kmart that is, in fact, open, despite their odd attempts to destroy their brand recognition.

In the podcast, you hear us talk about a SEARS store in Virginia that is obviously an old Kmart. Now I'm in a Kmart that clearly used to be a SEARS, but this time I have photos!

Check out this Google Earth photo

If you look closely, you can see the SEARS logo on this same building's side. Last time Google's cameras went by, this building was a SEARS.

Their solution is simple. But simple is rarely easy to create. SEARS (and Kmart too!) needs to show us what they stand for. Then stay consistent. Here are some simple steps:

#1: Know your values

#2: Put those values on display in every store (if a store can't hold up your values, close it!)

#3: Use marketing messages that reinforce and support those values (Jingle Bell underwear is funny, but tells us nothing useful).

#4: Keep those marketing messages and the experience of calling upon your store consistent.

Step #4 is why values are so important. In today's hyper-connected world of social media and prevalent customer review sites, consistency must pervade every aspect of every television ad, facebook update, and customer review. It's impossible to stay consistent without values to guide you.

Thankfully, you know your values. They're powerful and precious. We love you for having them. Keep those values at your core. Thank you for sharing your values with us every time we call. Thank you for keeping it so simple we know in an instant who you are and why we can like you.