If you really boil it down, brands only exist in our minds. They are, in David Ogilvy’s words, “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes – a mix of objective fact, emotion, and association, constructed in the memory.
Individual and collective brand memories
You can split brand memory two ways: we have individual associations, implicit to us alone, and then collective ones that form part of our shared culture. Collective brand memory allows us to have an experience as a group in ways we can’t as individuals, and that makes it more powerful. Indeed, collective associations can have such a big impact that they change us as a society. Think of the connective force of Facebook, Google, Uber.
As Victoria Bridgeman from The Brand Archivists confirms, “Already established brands, long-standing companies have a big competitive advantage: their heritage and the brand memory they’ve cultivated over time. These memories shape consumer views for the long-term.”
The Dior Archive, Paris
2022 saw a rapid development in the use of brand archives and heritage. No longer the domain of fashion labels, brands from a variety of sectors are beginning to recognise the gold that lies in their historical vaults.
“Heritage and archives are becoming essential marketing tools for any brand,” said Marco Pecorari, the director of fashion at Parsons Paris.
Dior and Chanel have been among the “leading forces” in mining brand heritage, often adopting museum strategies and techniques in terms of conservation and exhibitions. Pecorari predicts more brands will open exhibitions in the future.
Luxury brands are no longer waiting for the honour of being invited to be the subject of an exhibition. They are bypassing the grand cultural institutions and doing it for themselves. Chaumet, Dior, TIffany have all invested in big hitting, beautifully curated exhibitions to immerse their consumer audience. 2022 began a tradition of brands taking cultural centre stage and audiences have flocked to immerse themselves in their brand stories.According to Arnault, star brands are born only when a company manages to make products that “speak to the ages” but feel intensely modern.