I don’t use my rider mower very often. Usually  just in the fall to help collect leaves.  So when my old rider mower finally died, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one. I decided to go to Sears. I’ve used Craftsman tools since I was little, and they have always been a good value for what they are.

The salesperson who helped me pick out the right mower for my needs was fantastic. Since it was late fall,  the one I wanted was not in stock. I was told it I could pick it up within the week. No problem. I left happy with my purchase and decision to go to Sears. Things deteriorated quickly after that.

My rider mower didn’t come in as promised. Disappointing, but these things happen. What followed over the next week didn’t help. Without going into all the details, what I encountered in my quest to find out when I might receive my purchase included misinformation by sales people, a faulty phone system that wouldn’t let me connect to any department — or anyone — in the store for days on end, computer problems at the store, and insufficiently trained and rude store personnel. All of this was aggravating, but none of these were the reason I won’t be going to Sears anymore.

What did it was how my problem was handled. Not one person was willing or had the authority to help me. Not at the store. And not at the customer care hotline that I called a couple of times. Instead, they read from scripts, wrote down notes and passed my problem on. They told me that someone of authority would contact me, but no one ever did.

Much, but not all of the problem was the fault of the local store where I bought the mower. Regardless, the damage was done. My image of Sears, the company, had been tarnished.

My point in all of this is not to rant on about Sears, but to illustrate that a brand is more than a visual look. Your brand encompasses everything someone experiences with your company or product. That’s why it’s critical to educate every employee — from the CEO to the delivery driver — about it. Because whether they know it or not, they are a big part of your brand.