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Brand Heritage: Unearth Your Greatest Treasure

A Céline Men's Spring 2020 jacket featuring artwork by David Kramer.
A Céline Men's Spring 2020 jacket featuring artwork by David Kramer. © Céline.

Brand heritage is the unique treasure that tells a brand’s story and gives it true purpose. Heritage delivers depth, authenticity and trust to a brand, particularly in times of global market volatility. It takes your consumers on an emotional journey. And because we share our history, and our personal and collective stories often overlap, brand heritage allows us to relate on a deeper level. As Hedi Slimane’s Celine Men’s Spring 2020 collection in Paris last June reflects, returning to a brand’s rich history offers plenty of scope for cross pollination, coupling the past with innovation.

But heritage is not nostalgic marketing. Nor is it the date your brand was established.

A brand’s heritage must be brought to life through human stories that people can relate to; for heritage to deliver trust it must be combined with current cultural connections. Relevance in a brand’s values is as important as its history.

Today’s brands need to be laden with both history and contemporary relevance. As brands continue to be redefined and democratised, consumers expect more.Trust and heritage need to combine with innovation under a banner of global awareness.

Developing target markets must also be held in mind; according to Bain & Co, consumers under 35 will account for more than half of the global luxury goods market by 2050. New generations of consumers will view established brands through a different prism and are looking for a brand to deliver against their key values such as sustainability as much as heritage or confidence. Many heritage stories will be as yet untold to the under 35 age bracket and can be communicated afresh to the brand’s advantage; the brand’s backstory underlying uniqueness. But that heritage must resonate with an educated, global audience. While storytelling remains critical, innovation around that storytelling is vital if a brand is to demonstrate relevance today and tomorrow.

As Cedric Charbit, CEO of Balenciaga, wrote, “A brand today is of course about heritage but it’s also about the values today, what we believe in and what we stand for.”


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