How to ensure your heritage brand remains relevant

Heritage brands occupy a unique place in our everyday repertoire. They are warm and comforting, and if executed right, timeless. However in our increasingly brand conscious world, heritage brands must ensure that they remain relevant to the consumer in order to achieve brand growth, as often their historical credentials are not enough. Instead they must update their storytelling to engage modern shoppers, innovating and adapting to keep up with trends, whilst delicately weaving in narratives from the past to support their current positioning.

This is a challenge brands have often come to Elephants Can’t Jump with. Here are our top tips for ensuring your heritage brand remains relevant within the minds of consumers:

1. Focus on today, not yesterday

It is crucial that all brands, including heritage brands, continue moving forward rather than looking back. Keeping up to date with today’s consumers, trends and market is essential, and a brand’s history should not be a barrier to engaging with en-vogue issues. Ginsters is a prime example of a brand that does not allow heritage to hold it back, launching a vegan range to cater to the growing plant-based market, despite having its roots in traditional Cornish pasties.

2. Don’t lose sight of your beginnings

It goes without saying but whilst it is important to engage with current trends and issues, heritage brands must not lose sight of their roots in doing so. Consumers respect and admire brands with longevity, and if articulated well, historical stories can (and should) reinforce the brand’s current values and reasons to believe.

3. Know what makes you great

Like all brands, to stand out from the crowd heritage brands must have clarity on their differentiator. It is not enough to simply rely on numerous years of category experience for this and the best heritage differentiators find a way of balancing history with modernity. Taylors of Harrogate, an independent tea and coffee producer, achieves this by drawing on 130 years’ worth of strong family values and their passion for craft, as a way to differentiate themselves in a market saturated with large Italian and French brands.

4. Innovate, innovate, innovate

Innovation is the secret to all successful brands and heritage brands are no exception. Whether it be through launching new products or refreshing packaging, innovation helps to ensure brands remain proactive and thus front of mind for consumers. An outstanding innovation by a heritage brand is Gordon’s Pink Gin. By simply adding a splash of colour, Gordon’s tapped into a key millennial aesthetic trend and created a hugely popular product which other brands hold in high esteem.

5. Look classic, not old fashioned

Heritage brand semiotics usually fall firmly into two camps: Classic and Old-Fashioned. Brands of the first camp typically appear timeless, knowledgeable and relevant to today. Brands of the latter can feel clunky, outdated and tired. Although there can be a healthy dose of nostalgia attached to these Old-Fashioned semiotics, small tweaks and gentle updates that tap into current aesthetic trends, can give them a refreshed appearance that brings the brand into the 21st century.

If you have a heritage brand that you are looking to grow please get in touch at bob@elephantscantjump.com.

The Herd

21.09.20