Differentiating your brand: heritage

Last week I blogged about nostalgia and it’s power as a brand reminder.

In Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, a brand’s heritage is identified as a strong differentiator. So if you have an old brand  (a relative term based upon product category) you might consider heritage as the differentiator for your company or product.

A symbol of a simpler lifestyleActually though, the age of the brand is not the only determinant for a brand differentiated by heritage.

A brand can “borrow” a heritage just by being true to a culture or principal associated with the past. For instance, Smuckers uses an apocryphal and bucolic remembrance of the founders childhood to illustrate the “hominess” of their jams and jellies. Vanguard Mutual Funds has long associated itself with the lure of the sailing ship.

But if your company or product has a history, it can be explaited. Even though other companies may be older, if they have not promoted their heritage and “own” that position, you can probably step in.

Cadillac recently did a commercial showing the progression of its innovative leadership roll over the years. Though its latest campaigns are grounded in today, Wells Fargo continues to express its heritage through logo and color scheme.

So whether there’s a real heritage or the borrowing of older attributes like craftsmanship, personal service and human values, nostalgia as a differentiator can be powerful.

Martin Jelsema

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