Why brand heritage is worth its weight in gold

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Coca-Cola recently embarked on a heritage campaign to celebrate a hundred years of its iconic contour bottle. The campaign has enjoyed some success through a creative mix of both digital and traditional channels. It got me thinking.

As Marketers we can be so focused on what we’re doing right now or what’s around the corner that we can be forgiven for overlooking the triumphs of the past. But the truth is that a strong brand heritage should be treated as an asset and leveraged by marketers. We love nostalgia – particularly in this country. We go mad for it. Keep Calm and Carry On, anybody?

The contour bottle celebrates 100 years

Coca-Cola through the years: the now iconic contour bottle was first designed in 1915

Tesco has been at it too; I recently noticed they have images of early stores on their Bag For Life designs. The supermarket industry has been shaken up in the last few years for many reasons – online shopping has been one; but new entrants is even greater. What can Tesco claim which Lidl and Aldi can’t? British heritage.

Those are just two industries that strive for prestige – consider clothing, music and automotive brands. The list goes on. And it’s easy to see why consumer brands leverage heritage when they hold that advantage. For one thing it’s an asset that can’t be imitated, and it’s commonplace in all luxury brands’ positioning. Think about it – your brand doesn’t haven’t to be old to be premium, but it can’t be truly positioned as a luxury brand without some serious heritage – generally stemming from the story and personality founding member.

In my opinion this is a truth that transcends beyond B2C. In fact, I find it difficult to understand why we don’t see more B2B campaigns embracing heritage. Sure, you can argue that B2B is totally different; relationships versus transactions, trust versus impulse. But ultimately the principles and media are common.

Psychologically, for instance, people automatically feel a basic level of trust towards a brand with an established history. There’s an element of reassurance that comes with it; and a sense that ‘if other people have been using it for so long, it must be good’.

These are generalisations, of course. But what about the impact of British heritage overseas? In some regions of the world – the Middle East being one – products or services branded as British can command a premium, and are automatically perceived to possess a high level of quality.

Over time organisations leave a positive mark on communities through years of employment in their local areas, particularly in manufacturing industries, as well as investing energy into CSR efforts. From an employee perspective, too, it can be galvanising to promote the accomplishments of the past hand-in-hand with those of today.

In summary there are many reasons positive why B2B marketers working for established organisations should embrace heritage. So before you delete the folder of images from last year’s product launch – take a moment to consider the next generation of your brands’ marketers. They may just appreciate them.

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