We live in a world where heritage that once took a century to earn now takes significantly less time to achieve. It only took the likes of PayPal, Amazon and Google less than a couple of decades to attain ‘contemporary heritage’, which begs the question, what is the true value of genuine heritage, and if you have it, how best can you exploit it?
Back in 1948, when the very British Polo mints were launched, branding was probably not such a big deal, and heritage certainly wasn’t a popular trend - all branding eyes faced to the future.
Over the years Polo underwent a number of packaging changes, becoming increasingly contemporary as it distanced itself from its original 1940’s typography and look. But recently it reached back to its past to breath new life into its original look, and the move appears to have been a great success.
Uncovering original brand cues can indeed help a business re-establish themselves by re-igniting compelling emotional engagement, re-asserting trust, re-building credibility and offering a new, clearer direction, both internally and externally. Unpacking what works best depends on a number of factors, from the category a brand falls into to just how authentic the heritage really is.
On the one hand we have contemporary brands that are bright, reliable, desirable and have a sense of ‘heritage' hewn from rapid and consistent growth. Then we have those brands that successfully focus on making their heritage count for today's new consumers. And somewhere in the middle, we have those brands that, in an attempt to look contemporary and keep up with the changing times, begin to look generic and begin to disappear within their category.
Coca-Cola were arguably one of the first to see what was staring them in the face all along. Their successful de-evolution in 2007 saw them strip their packaging and communications of all the drop shadows, rendered bubbles and wavy lines that they had acquired over time, leaving behind the simple iconic Coca-Cola wordmark and instantly recognisable colour scheme.
So whilst there will always be things that new brands bring to the table that established businesses will naturally be inspired by, it’s important not to loose sight of yourself in the process!
Those looking to their past for their future communications need to tread carefully, re-kindling an old logo or pack doesn’t always guarantee success.
When it comes to packaging, it’s not all about slapping a cool logo on your product based on trends and tastes, it’s about establishing who you are, what's your story and what’s right for your business. These are the things that go on to create long lasting brands. Ultimately, building a product on a constant principle, such as heritage ensures that when, not if, the winds blow the other way, there is ample room to shift focus, while being true to a brand’s origins.
The perfect response to the creative challenges your brand faces today, might have been sitting in your archive for the last 30 years.