The case for nostalgia in a ‘new’ age
by Michelle Wynne. It is important for a heritage brand to strike a balance between brand heritage and innovation.Tuesday, 11 Aug 2020
by Michelle Wynne. Heritage brands can play a critical role through innovation. Part of navigating this complex landscape means introducing the heritage brand to the next generation – people who will not necessarily have the same knowledge of, or affinity with, the brand. It simply isn’t enough to rely on a brand’s past popularity to carry it forward. The brand story, and offering, must also evolve in order to continue delivering real and measurable value.
Community and family have always been key pillars of society, but the ways in which we interact with them are evolving. Digital connectivity and mobile are keeping the lines of communication open when it’s needed most; and we see a resurgence in simple-living and lifestyle choices as communities make their health and happiness a priority. The search for the familiar is no doubt influenced by the constant and rapid tide of change we find ourselves swept up in. We are gravitating towards the known and familiar – brands we trust from experience, that have formed part of our individual and collective history and heritage. As people become more cents-sensitive and conscious with their spending; brand continuity, and product integrity will become an even greater priority.
Research by Brand Africa attests to this. In its recently released report on the top 100 most admired brands in Africa, a trend emerged showing that there is a growing belief that new isn’t always necessarily better. Legacy brands dominated the rankings, with the Nokia brand coming in 20th. Many remember with sentimental fondness, their trusty Nokia phone. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Nokia 3310, which was introduced in 2000 and became one of the best-selling feature phones in the world as well as one of our most iconic devices. The Nokia 3310 sold 126 million units worldwide between 2000 and 2005, and because of its widespread popularity, was reintroduced in 2017. In the last three years, Nokia phones have made a steady push to climb to the top of the throne once more, not by dazzling with unnecessary spec add-ons, but by making purposeful design, the hero.
People are becoming more vocal with their needs; they want longer-lasting relationships with their products and value at a time of financial uncertainty. However, while we see brands with a strong heritage play an integral role in day-to-day life for many South Africans, the need to push the boundaries and try new things is very real. Brands that have built up loyal followings are under increasing pressure to juggle between staying true to their essence and competing with newer, disruptor brands. This means innovation never stops, and our key concern is how we create new experiences that meet the evolving needs of our audiences while retaining that nostalgic joy that’s synonymous with our products.
Part of navigating this complex landscape means introducing the heritage brand to the next generation – people who will not necessarily have the same knowledge of, or affinity with, the brand. It simply isn’t enough to rely on a brand’s past popularity to carry it forward. The brand story, and offering, must also evolve in order to continue delivering real and measurable value. Consumer values have changed, demanding that established companies need to re-evaluate what they have to offer during such unprecedented times. As a result, brands need to innovate and offer the best possible customer experience and value.
Brands, especially heritage brands, need to know how to innovate in the right way and at the right time, always keeping consumer needs top of mind while leveraging the best parts of its legacy and embracing what makes it unique and loved.
Michelle Wynne, Head of Marketing Sub Sahara Africa at HMD Global. HMD Global Oy, branded as HMD, is a Finnish mobile phone company, made up of the mobile phone business that Nokia had sold to Microsoft in 2014, then bought back in 2016.
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