Is brand heritage the new baggage?

Posted on 7/09/2013 by Emma Dadswell


According to the latest market report from trend forecasting company Trendwatching, consumers are now drawn to unproven and unknown brands the way they were once attracted to established names.

We’ve previously blogged on the death of brand heritage, but Trendwatching’s report on ‘clean slate brands’ suggests that consumers are now immediately comfortable with, and even prefer, up-and-coming businesses. But can fledgling start-ups really compete with established and iconic brand names?

According to the research, clean slate brands are perceived by consumers to be more open and responsive. The report cites the fact that this trend is most prevalent in mature economies when trust in big businesses has never been lower. New companies, the report says, have fresh business values and higher environmental, ethical and social standards.

The whole concept of ‘brands’ rests on the idea that consumers need recognisable, trusted symbols, honed over many years, to help them navigate the wealth of available choices. Of course, the digital revolution means that reputations can now be built more swiftly than ever before. But we shouldn’t write-off iconic brands which have retained their kudos and desirability.

This year’s CoolBrands list, voted for by 39 key influencers and 3000 members of the British Public, is packed with established entries. Within the top 10, only two – Twitter and YouTube - are less than a decade old. Meanwhile, two of the brands – Aston Martin and Liberty – have been around for over a century.

It goes without saying that untainted brands with fresh values and ideals will always appeal to inquisitive and experimental consumers. But we cannot ignore the fact that legacy is a valuable USP which cannot be faked of fabricated.

We live in a culture that celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation, but heritage does not necessarily equate to baggage. A brand’s image is defined by more than just ‘years-in-service’, and longevity should be celebrated alongside inception and ambition.

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