discuss a task
    ru en

nostalgia in branding: the interaction of history and marketing

You're in a basement pub whose walls are decorated with beer caps and faded bandanas. A powerful bike with a scratched bumper flaunts at the bar counter, on which, it seems, the dust of the sultry highway has barely had time to settle. Do you recognize the atmosphere? Nostalgia, or something similar, can be “programmed” by a brand that has developed an entire marketing strategy for it and spent a fortune on its implementation. But this is not always the case. Longread of one of the largest branding agencies Landor will dot the i's and cross the t's.

Nostalgia is very cost-effective: studies show that nostalgia makes it easier for consumers to part with their money. What's more, nostalgic sentiment is on the rise during times of economic crisis, making the millennial generation - the main target of all marketers - the most susceptible to this phenomenon. As global brands like Spotify or Microsoft produce videos that remind of better times, and as Netflix launches series of the 1980s one after the other, nostalgic marketing is becoming a powerful trend.

What does such a nostalgic wave bring for branding? Are there brands that only play on the feeling of nostalgia, and is this the best way to add value to a brand? At Landor Milan, we often work with companies with strong historical heritage and help find ways to enhance it. Not every such brand bets on nostalgia to rebuild, but those who do can be divided into two groups: nostalgic brands and brands with history. We have identified five main differences and the benefits of each of them.

History: is it real or fictional?

Brands with history have a real history of at least one generation.

Nostalgic brands, though newly created, manage to appeal to the sensibilities and cultural codes of decades, if not centuries.

In fact, not all brands that showcase the old school aesthetic are brands with a history. For example, design agency Shinola from Detroit. Launched in 2011, the company bought the name from a century-old local burgeoning shoe store and quickly turned it into a millennial-favorite brand that offers minimalist accessories with a vintage, nostalgic twist and handcrafted pieces. The same cannot be said for the Hermès brand, which appeared in 1837 as a handicraft workshop for the production of horse harness, and which since then has remained true to its name and style.

Another example of a brand without a real story but with a legend is Frankie & Benny's, a popular restaurant chain in the United Kingdom that serves American-Italian cuisine. The company opened its first restaurant in 1995, but their fictional history dates back to 1924 with an immigrant boy named Frankie and his American friend Benny. The interior of the restaurant is made in the style of the 1950s and is decorated with a collection of black and white photographs that evoke pseudo-nostalgic feelings. Given that Frankie & Benny's already has 250 locations, this approach definitely works.

Take a look at an Italian food brand: Pasticceria Marchesi. Founded in 1824, it is the second oldest patisserie in Milan. In 2014, Prada acquired 80 percent of the store and opened a second location that offers exactly the same products. A true brand with a story does not need to prove its heritage at every point of interaction with the consumer. The new patisserie is decorated in a modern, elegant, Instagrammable style, and fashion influencers often delight with their visit.

Time span: one and several?

Brands with history are influenced by many historical events.

Nostalgic brands are associated with images of a certain period of time.

Nostalgia is a feeling associated with a certain period in the past. It can be childhood memories of buyers; hence the boom of fashion brands from the 80s and 90s. But it can also be something that consumers have never personally experienced, such as the chic of the 50s or the atmosphere of medieval chivalry - Entrepreneur magazine calls this phenomenon "false nostalgia."

The image of a close-knit Harley-Davidson gang, for example, inevitably refers us to the rebellious, uncompromising and poetic 70s. On the other hand, the Italian brand with a history of Ducati (founded in 1926) has chosen regular MotoGP racing as a way to assert its greatness, showcasing many victories and illustrious drivers and cementing the brand's excellence in the minds of consumers.

Benefit Cosmetics (established in 1976) is alive with pin-up style, which is carried through all channels of communication and evokes a sense of nostalgia for the elegance and voluptuous femininity of yesteryear. By comparison, Max Factor (introduced in 1909) has collaborated with beauty icons from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna and has the entire Hollywood Museum to back its legacy.

Innovation: content or access?

Brands with history innovate their content (product or service) to stay ahead of the curve.

Nostalgic brands update access to their content, implying that their product or service is a priori perfect.

Brands with history are redefining themselves, their products and communications over and over again, always striving to find the most accurate expression of their unchanging, authentic essence. Nostalgic brands can be just as inventive and innovative, but they are updating access, not the content itself. Think back to how Pokémon Go reinvented the gameplay and the way you interact with Pokémon, but left the characters themselves unchanged.

Over its half-century history, Starbucks has evolved from a coffee and equipment retailer in one city (Seattle) to a global provider of new practices: this brand has a unique coffee history, decorative coffee roasters and merch, its own community and events, a music label and mobile application. Starbucks products and brand expression are constantly evolving while remaining true to the company's heritage.

On the contrary, Hard Rock Cafes have firmly built their specific style and nostalgic mood into the brand, while constantly developing access - namely, the number and scale of new establishments around the world.

Levi's remains relevant and fresh in brand touchpoints and in its communication, but its signature designs have not changed for generations. Gucci, along with many iconic fashion houses, is reinventing itself with each new creative director, constantly seeking out-of-the-box ways to express the brand's DNA.

The role of the past for the brand: proof or product?

Brands with history use their past as evidence of high quality products.

For nostalgic brands, the past is the product, and the brand itself gives you the opportunity to touch it.

As brands with history are constantly reinventing themselves, they use their history to prove their expertise. In this way, they gain consumer confidence and maintain brand style, especially when launching new activities, outlets or products. Nostalgic brands bring the past to the fore; their products serve as a portal to past times.

The Campari Group's heritage is what adds credibility to their new venture, the Campari Academy, a training center for bartenders and mixologists. The Campari heritage inspires the brand, contributing to the continuous renewal of its powerful entrepreneurial culture and independent, pioneering spirit.

Italian beverage brand Tassoni has its own relationship with history. Having achieved success in the 1970s, the company went into oblivion, reminded of itself in the 90s and again achieved success. Today, Tassoni is considered a vintage brand, the embodiment of local traditions and an ideological alternative to the Coca-Cola brand. And this is without a single metamorphosis. Since the 70s, Tassoni has run the same commercial every summer, and the company's CEO claims that customers love this iconic ad so much that it simply cannot be changed, like the packaging and the drink's secret recipe.

Moleskine is another example of a product selling a bygone era. The brand was created in 1997, but from the very first day it refers to an earlier past: Hemingway's notebooks or literary cafes of the 19th century. Moleskine stands out due to its association with a bygone culture and an atmosphere of endless inspiration that justifies the relatively high price. But if we consider another stationery brand, Faber-Castell, it offers what is essentially high-quality stationery, with the brand's history mentioned only to highlight its superiority.

Durability: once or for all?

Nostalgic brands are learning to capitalize on the fact that the nature of nostalgia is temporary.

Brands with a history are future-proof and ready to innovate to stay relevant in the future.

Nostalgia is a feeling. It grows strong in turbulent times and can be awakened by images, tastes and places from the past. But after a while it passes, and life goes on. This is more of a one-time event than an everyday reality. Brands either try to catch this wave or rely on more mundane methods to differentiate their products.

Sears is a US supermarket chain founded in 1893 and closing in March 2019. The news set off a huge wave of nostalgia on social media as people shared childhood memories of the store. But since the store was so loved, why did it have to close? Obviously, nostalgia alone is not enough to maintain audience loyalty. The United Kingdom-based store brand John Lewis & Partners has a long history behind it and evokes many childhood memories for shoppers, but the brand is constantly updating its experience and communication to stay in the zeitgeist.

Another hugely successful example of the short-lived nature of nostalgia is Pokémon Go, which has allowed millions of its users to relive childhood memories. The excitement around them reached its peak in 2016, which brought the company a profit of over $1.8 billion, and then the nostalgia gradually faded. Take a classic game like Minecraft for comparison: people played it 10 years ago, and over 112 million continue to play it every month.

Nostalgia is a powerful tool, use it wisely.

By understanding the target audience and using the right timing, a brand or campaign can instantly evoke powerful emotions through nostalgia. But beyond that, it can render a brand obsolete, narrow audiences to a specific generation, limit opportunities for transformation, and make or break a brand’s position depending on changing sentiments.

In a certain industry, the use of nostalgia is limited. So, it can play against a car brand that is expected and required to innovate.

Nostalgia is the shortest but unstable path to customer confidence, so it must be combined with pragmatic competitive advantages and modern solutions. On the other hand, building a brand with a story requires long-term planning, as well as the desire to build trust step by step and constantly evolve.

In branding, both true heritage and nostalgia have their pros and cons. Whether your company is in need of a refresh or your brand is looking to kick-start a nostalgic wave, you must choose your approach carefully. And have a clear goal.

Source: landor.com.

Authors: Liubov Timofeeva, Carolina Caputo.

We actively explore
the world branding and advertising
Subscribe to our social media
accounts to explore the world together.
contact us
briefly describe the task

Privacy Policy

1. An overview of data protection



The following gives a simple overview of what happens to your personal information when you visit our website. Personal information is any data with which you could be personally identified. Detailed information on the subject of data protection can be found in our privacy policy found below.

Data collection on our website

Who is responsible for the data collection on this website? The data collected on this website are processed by the website operator. The operator’s contact details can be found in the website’s required legal notice.

How do we collect your data?

Some data are collected when you provide it to us. This could, for example, be data you enter on a contact form.

Other data are collected automatically by our IT systems when you visit the website. These data are primarily technical data such as the browser and operating system you are using or when you accessed the page. These data are collected automatically as soon as you enter our website.

What do we use your data for?

Part of the data is collected to ensure the proper functioning of the website. Other data can be used to analyze how visitors use the site.

What rights do you have regarding your data?

You always have the right to request information about your stored data, its origin, its recipients, and the purpose of its collection at no charge. You also have the right to request that it be corrected, blocked, or deleted. You can contact us at any time using the address given in the legal notice if you have further questions about the issue of privacy and data protection. You may also, of course, file a complaint with the competent regulatory authorities.

Analytics and third-party tools

When visiting our website, statistical analyses may be made of your surfing behavior. This happens primarily using cookies and analytics. The analysis of your surfing behavior is usually anonymous, i.e. we will not be able to identify you from this data. You can object to this analysis or prevent it by not using certain tools. Detailed information can be found in the following privacy policy.

You can object to this analysis. We will inform you below about how to exercise your options in this regard.

2. General information and mandatory information


Data protection

The operators of this website take the protection of your personal data very seriously. We treat your personal data as confidential and in accordance with the statutory data protection regulations and this privacy policy.

If you use this website, various pieces of personal data will be collected. Personal information is any data with which you could be personally identified. This privacy policy explains what information we collect and what we use it for. It also explains how and for what purpose this happens.

Please note that data transmitted via the internet (e.g. via email communication) may be subject to security breaches. Complete protection of your data from third-party access is not possible.

Notice concerning the party responsible for this website
The party responsible for processing data on this website is:

Telephone: +66815434565
E-Mail: hello@icu.agency
Company registration number: 0845566007085

The responsible party is the natural or legal person who alone or jointly with others decides on the purposes and means of processing personal data (names, email addresses, etc.).

Revocation of your consent to the processing of your data

Many data processing operations are only possible with your express consent. You may revoke your consent at any time with future effect. An informal email making this request is sufficient. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

SSL or TLS encryption

This site uses SSL or TLS encryption for security reasons and for the protection of the transmission of confidential content, such as the inquiries you send to us as the site operator. You can recognize an encrypted connection in your browser’s address line when it changes from “http://” to “https://” and the lock icon is displayed in your browser’s address bar.

If SSL or TLS encryption is activated, the data you transfer to us cannot be read by third parties.

Information, blocking, deletion

As permitted by law, you have the right to be provided at any time with information free of charge about any of your personal data that is stored as well as its origin, the recipient and the purpose for which it has been processed. You also have the right to have this data corrected, blocked or deleted. You can contact us at any time using the address given in our legal notice if you have further questions on the topic of personal data.

Opposition to promotional emails

We hereby expressly prohibit the use of contact data published in the context of website legal notice requirements with regard to sending promotional and informational materials not expressly requested. The website operator reserves the right to take specific legal action if unsolicited advertising material, such as email spam, is received.

3. Data protection officer


Statutory data protection officer

We have appointed a data protection officer for our company.

Alexander Rusin
Telephone: +66815434565
E-Mail: hello@icu.agency
Company registration number: 0845566007085

4. Data collection on our website



Some of our web pages use cookies. Cookies do not harm your computer and do not contain any viruses. Cookies help make our website more user-friendly, efficient, and secure. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer and saved by your browser.

Most of the cookies we use are so-called “session cookies.” They are automatically deleted after your visit. Other cookies remain in your device’s memory until you delete them. These cookies make it possible to recognize your browser when you next visit the site.

You can configure your browser to inform you about the use of cookies so that you can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to accept or reject a cookie. Alternatively, your browser can be configured to automatically accept cookies under certain conditions or to always reject them, or to automatically delete cookies when closing your browser. Disabling cookies may limit the functionality of this website.

Cookies which are necessary to allow electronic communications or to provide certain functions you wish to use (such as the shopping cart) are stored pursuant to Art. 6 paragraph 1, letter f of DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in the storage of cookies to ensure an optimized service provided free of technical errors. If other cookies (such as those used to analyze your surfing behavior) are also stored, they will be treated separately in this privacy policy.

Server log files

The website provider automatically collects and stores information that your browser automatically transmits to us in “server log files”. These are:

Browser type and browser version
Operating system used
Referrer URL
Host name of the accessing computer
Time of the server request
IP address
These data will not be combined with data from other sources.

The basis for data processing is Art. 6 (1) (b) DSGVO, which allows the processing of data to fulfill a contract or for measures preliminary to a contract.

5. Analytics and advertising


Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service. It is operated by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

Google Analytics uses so-called “cookies”. These are text files that are stored on your computer and that allow an analysis of the use of the website by you. The information generated by the cookie about your use of this website is usually transmitted to a Google server in the USA and stored there.

Google Analytics cookies are stored based on Art. 6 (1) (f) DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in analyzing user behavior to optimize both its website and its advertising.

IP anonymization

We have activated the IP anonymization feature on this website. Your IP address will be shortened by Google within the European Union or other parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area prior to transmission to the United States. Only in exceptional cases is the full IP address sent to a Google server in the US and shortened there. Google will use this information on behalf of the operator of this website to evaluate your use of the website, to compile reports on website activity, and to provide other services regarding website activity and Internet usage for the website operator. The IP address transmitted by your browser as part of Google Analytics will not be merged with any other data held by Google.

Browser plugin

You can prevent these cookies being stored by selecting the appropriate settings in your browser. However, we wish to point out that doing so may mean you will not be able to enjoy the full functionality of this website. You can also prevent the data generated by cookies about your use of the website (incl. your IP address) from being passed to Google, and the processing of these data by Google, by downloading and installing the browser plugin available at the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=en.

Objecting to the collection of data

You can prevent the collection of your data by Google Analytics by clicking on the following link. An opt-out cookie will be set to prevent your data from being collected on future visits to this site: Disable Google Analytics.

For more information about how Google Analytics handles user data, see Google’s privacy policy: support.google.com

Outsourced data processing

We have entered into an agreement with Google for the outsourcing of our data processing and fully implement the strict requirements of the German data protection authorities when using Google Analytics.

Demographic data collection by Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics’ demographic features. This allows reports to be generated containing statements about the age, gender, and interests of site visitors. This data comes from interest-based advertising from Google and third-party visitor data. This collected data cannot be attributed to any specific individual person. You can disable this feature at any time by adjusting the ads settings in your Google account or you can forbid the collection of your data by Google Analytics as described in the section “Refusal of data collection”.

Google Analytics Remarketing

Our websites use the features of Google Analytics Remarketing combined with the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and DoubleClick. This service is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

This feature makes it possible to link target audiences for promotional marketing created with Google Analytics Remarketing to the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and Google DoubleClick. This allows advertising to be displayed based on your personal interests, identified based on your previous usage and surfing behavior on one device (e.g. your mobile phone), on other devices (such as a tablet or computer).

Once you have given your consent, Google will associate your web and app browsing history with your Google Account for this purpose. That way, any device that signs in to your Google Account can use the same personalized promotional messaging.

To support this feature, Google Analytics collects Google-authenticated IDs of users that are temporarily linked to our Google Analytics data to define and create audiences for cross-device ad promotion.

You can permanently opt out of cross-device remarketing/targeting by turning off personalized advertising in your Google Account; follow this link: https://www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb/?hl=en.

The aggregation of the data collected in your Google Account data is based solely on your consent, which you may give or withdraw from Google per Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. For data collection operations not merged into your Google Account (for example, because you do not have a Google Account or have objected to the merge), the collection of data is based on Art. 6 (1) (f) DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in analyzing anonymous user behavior for promotional purposes.

For more information and the Google Privacy Policy, go to: https://www.google.com/policies/technologies/ads/.

6. Newsletter


Newsletter data

If you would like to receive our newsletter, we require a valid email address as well as information that allows us to verify that you are the owner of the specified email address and that you agree to receive this newsletter. No additional data is collected or is only collected on a voluntary basis. We only use this data to send the requested information and do not pass it on to third parties.

We will, therefore, process any data you enter onto the contact form only with your consent per Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. You can revoke consent to the storage of your data and email address as well as their use for sending the newsletter at any time, e.g. through the “unsubscribe” link in the newsletter. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

The data provided when registering for the newsletter will be used to distribute the newsletter until you cancel your subscription when said data will be deleted. Data we have stored for other purposes (e.g. email addresses for the members area) remain unaffected.

Data processing is based on Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. You may revoke your consent at any time by unsubscribing to the newsletter. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

The data provided when registering for the newsletter will be used to distribute the newsletter until you cancel your subscription when said data will be deleted from our servers. Data we have stored for other purposes remains unaffected.

Thanks for signing up!

Wrong email format!

Your message has been sent successfully!