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How to Set Legacy Brands Up for Future Success

Legacy brands want to maintain their rich histories and the sense of integrity these histories bring — but they also need to find a place in today’s market, which means attracting new customers.

From helping a brand distill its core tenets, to letting go of defensive design tendencies that aim to “protect” the brand’s legacy, we take a look at some helpful tips for setting legacy brands up for long-term future relevance and success.

1. Distilling a brand’s core tenets

Legacy brands are relevant, in part, because they’ve been around the block — they have a history that’s at the heart of their appeal to consumers. In order to stay relevant in today’s market, legacy brands will naturally need to tweak their image, which is why figuring out what the brand is really about is so crucial — once you’ve done that, you’ll be free to experiment, knowing you won’t be radically altering the brand’s spirit. One great place to start? We recommend looking into and clarifying what made the brand so innovative in its early days.

2. Playing offense

A defensive position can feel natural for a legacy brand. After all, you want to protect your brand’s hard-earned legacy. Sometimes however, brands that do this can end up maintaining a brand image and practice that actually stop them from moving forward. Being bold — playing offense, in other words — is always going to be an important quality for legacy brands. That might mean, for instance, entering and disrupting markets where the brand has traditionally been absent or underperforming. Curation has always been an important aspect of legacy brands, but nowadays a certain nimbleness and willingness to experiment are just as valuable.

3. Listen to your customers

Whether a legacy brand is attempting a rebrand or redesign, or just strategizing, it’s important to approach the brand’s audience for helpful information. This is a crucial way to figure out what a brand’s deepest meanings are for consumers, and what’s important to them — as well as what isn’t. In 2022, it should also be obvious that data is critical. Collecting data will provide invaluable insights that will help legacy brands take their history into the future, crafting narratives that resonate with contemporary consumers.

4. Don’t be afraid of nostalgia

Even as legacy brands seek to redefine themselves, they should never entirely do away with the power of nostalgia. Some legacy brands will naturally choose to lean into the nostalgia factor, but it’s often better to think about nostalgia as the anchor of a larger, multi-pronged approach to bringing a legacy brand into the future. In other words, working with nostalgia can provide a sense of omnipresence and continuity for a legacy brand, which will help with but-in for new strategies and directions.


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