Now we know what’s wrong with Sears, and it’s even worse than I thought.

The failing company – and, more importantly, a perpetually lost brand – has put its sub-brands (Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard) under agency review separately from the parent brand itself. It’s as if McDonald’s put its apple pie account under review, thinking it is just as important (or more) as the parent brand.

It’s insane and demonstrates that Sears thinks backward. It believes the reason it has its lowest market share in the company’s history is because the sub-brands aren’t holding up their end. True, those sales have crash-landed – sales fell 6.3% last quarter – but that’s not because the sub-brands are failing to attract customers.

It’s because the Sears brand is keeping them away.

Sears Store FrontThe brand has been struggling for years, and for many reasons. It practically invented the appliance industry in the post-war years, serving as a precursor to malls where you could buy many different brands during your trip.

When the malls arrived, it was left with a ton of real estate but kept to the same model. It made sure the only place to get Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard was/is at Sears.

But that’s why this agency review is so mind-boggling. Any messaging/brand should be done hand-in-hand with the parent brand, not separately. The problem is the Sears brand itself. If you have to go to Sears to buy those brands, most would whack themselves in the face with a stick rather than walk through those doors.

If Sears doesn’t think it has a problem with its parent brand, then I suggest an experiment. Offer the sub-brands in another store. Give Lowe’s a call. Watch what happens. My bet is the sales of those appliances will skyrocket and the company’s brass would wonder what the hell happened.