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Why brand heritage is valuable, and three ways to use your brand’s heritage for growth

Every brand has roots and a story to tell, including yours. Whether it’s a 10×15–foot shed like Harley Davidson, or a record shop like Virgin Group, every brand begins somewhere. And, perhaps your brand was founded by inspirational people, just like Richard Branson or William Harley and Arthur Davidson, who instilled values that still resonate within their companies today. These links to the past and a brand’s origins create a brand’s heritage, and this heritage is a vital resource for connecting with customers.

Brand heritage can be valuable in these three key ways:

  1. It enables brands to make an emotional connection with customers by showing it has the sort of values that customers relate to.
  2. Building on a sense of nostalgia creates the notion that the brand carries with it values from simpler, more settled times.
  3. Heritage also provides customers with the reassurance that a brand can be trusted because it’s experienced, well established and carrying forward a long-held vision. This is so vital at a time when brand distrust is at an all-time high. This credibility and authenticity validates your brand’s promise and justifies a premium price.


Three ways to profit from your brand’s heritage:

1. People

People buy from people as the old adage says. Your brand should draw on and embody the values of those we admire, feel inspired by or trust.

Our brand hero, Virgin reflects the personality of its founder Richard Branson; in fact they are so closely intertwined that they are really one and the same.  As an entrepreneurial, customer-focused innovator Branson is his own brand’s ambassador at every opportunity. His story – leaving school early to start a magazine –has become modern-day folklore, and the moral of the story is that anything is possible: all it takes is innovation and the drive to succeed. Branson is the reason his brand continues to be so successful.


2. The original mission

If you stay true to the brand’s original mission, formula or recipe it tells customers that the values and vision driving the brand are still the same, and that they’re consistent and unwavering.

Take another of our brand heroes, Lexus, the luxury car brand, which launched back in 1990 with the mission of the ‘Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.’ Now, nearly thirty years later, the brand is evolving from luxury brand to luxury lifestyle brand in a bid to attract younger buyers, whilst still staying true to its original customer base.


3. Provenance

This is all about providing customers with the opportunity to connect with where the brand began. Whether it’s a particular location, an historical setting or a particular ethos, these factors all present the occasions for positive emotional associations, trust building and connecting past products with your current offering.

Disney’s 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns cleverly harnesses the nostalgia of the original. Disney resisted the urge to use sophisticated animation, and instead stuck with the brightly coloured cartoon characters that could have stepped straight out of the 1964 original. The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast are other remakes from Disney that appeal to their core audience of children, but also use the nostalgia factor to appeal to parents and even grandparents.


How we helped The Big Cat Sanctuary to make the most of their brand heritage …

The Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden, Kent is home to over fifty big cats. The charity’s core objectives are welfare, breeding, education and conservation and they offer exclusive experiences at the Sanctuary to help support their fundraising.

When we first met them, the sanctuary had two strong identities: their founding name, The Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF), and The Big Cat Sanctuary which had been created to provide a more approachable, public facing name. These two logos were in conflict with each other and didn’t give the sanctuary a clear, defined brand with which they could grow their outreach and fundraising.

We needed to create an icon that would be instantly recognisable and incorporated both identities into one graphic that could be used for all their marketing collateral. We achieved this through the subtle inclusion of WHF within the shape of the tiger. This approach ensured the heritage is still proudly included in the new brand, but keeps The Big Cat Sanctuary as the public identity, so people in an instant would know who they are and what they do.

We produced print collateral, exhibition graphics and park signage to support their new branding. In-house files were also created including email signatures, marketing templates and a digital letterhead to ensure brand consistency.

The new brand gives The Big Cat Sanctuary an identity to be proud of whilst still connecting with its roots. They have since been the focus of BBC documentary ‘Big Cats About the House’ and are splashed across Formula E racing cars. Developments that didn’t seem possible just a few short years ago.

Read the full success story here.

What values drive your brand and how can you use your brand’s heritage to build trust? For an informal chat, call Mark on 01622 677 541.

Image sources:
Richard Branson: Jonas Fredwall Karlsson |  Lexus: Lexus.ca  |  Mary Poppins: Movies.ie


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