The power of nostalgia in branding

I’m an old guy.

I remember, almost as if it were yesterday, [tag-tec]brands[/tag-tec] like: The Lone Ranger (on radio), Wild Root Cream Oil, Buster Brown Shoes (and Tige), and Nash.

Buster Brown and his dog TigeI still own a library of lp’s and 45’s – all jazz and most of them re-issues from an earlier age of flappers and hip flasks.

So an article syndicated by Around the Net in Brand Marketing (Marketing Daily from June 10, 2008 –, extracted from the Miami Hearld) really caught my eye.

They are commenting on the growing sales of vinyl albums. Here’s the excerpt that resonates with me:

“The resurgence of vinyl centers on a long-standing debate over analog versus digital sound. But audiophiles say they also want the format’s overall experience — the sensory experience of putting the needle on the record, the feeling of side A and side B and the joy of lingering over the liner notes.”

Oh, I know that experience and still, without actually thinking about it, enjoy it.

People have long memories concerning the icons and habits formed in their early years. This goes for good and bad memories and experiences. A brand builds its reputation and it’s hard to lose it, no matter if it’s a reputation for leading edge innovation or for poor quality.

As a youth, the Chrysler automobiles had a great reputation for engineering and innovation. From what I know about the industry today, they no longer lead in this category. Yet I still think great engineering when I see a Chrysler product.

Conversely, I remember scorning Hush Puppies as uncool. Yet they gained a following with the “in” crowd several years ago.

The folks embracing Hush Puppies were not of my generation. They were not exposed to the embarrassment of having to wear a pair your mother bought for you. (I wanted blue suede.) Somehow a newer generation found Hush Puppies to be cool.

So I see two lessons here.

First, brand smart from the start. Build that one-word reputation that lifts and separates you from the crowd. Once you have, those whom you have touched will remember the brand with favor for a long, long time.

Second, if your [tag-tec]branding[/tag-tec] has a poor or unclear reputation, do not fear. Start over with the next, uninfluenced generation.

Oh, and just in case you’re part of my generation, what ever happened to Molle shaving cream and Old Gold cigarettes?

Martin Jelsema

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