Can the Iconic Sears Tower Be Successfully Rebranded?

The renaming of Sears Tower points up one of the fundamental aspects of marketing – that of brand equity. By virtue of marketing and 25 years of public relations, the name Sears Tower has enormous cachet around the world and has brought the city the kind of exposure that can’t be quantified.

While the Sears Tower never had the romantic or nostalgic brand personality of the Empire State Building or the Wrigley Building, it was nevertheless a signifier of cosmopolitan cool and Midwestern expansiveness.

Then there’s the economic impact. I haven’t seen a study of how much iconic buildings add to an economy, but consider how much exposure the Petronas Towers brought the previously obscure city of Kuala Lumpur, or the expected windfall that Taipei will reap from Taipei 101 – the world’s tallest new building. Sears Tower did that for Chicago and part of its franchise is the iconic name.

Time will tell whether Willis Tower can build the same brand value.