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  • Writer's pictureKeverne Denahan


heritage brands

Working with so many companies, I have discovered that many Heritage Brands face a moment of difficulty or struggle along the way. When that happens, it means it's time to go back to their Brand DNA.

As a Heritage Brand, the big question to ask is: Are they still relevant? How does a company leverage generations of content to their advantage?


If you are part of a Heritage Brand, or working with one, the first thing to know are the origins of the brand. Why did they start, and what set them apart in the first place? The history of the company and how they have evolved over time will show a lot of answers.

This is so important that you would think it would never get overlooked, but it does all the time.


Let's use an example of Sears. Sears & Roebuck was founded in 1892 doing mail order watches. If you consider there was no internet or television, no tech as we know it, what Sears accomplished at the time was incredible.

Fast forward to modern times. Sears had the foundation for servicing customers remotely with the infrastructure for mail order and delivery, not to mention a national customer base.

And yet, somehow along the way, they got sidetracked. They ended up missing the boat with e-commerce, which, given their origins, is shocking.

If they had stayed true to their Brand DNA, Sears would probably be a massive player in the e-commerce space today. Instead, sadly, the company is a shell of itself.


An example of a Heritage Brand who has withstood the test of time is L.L. Bean, established in 1912. L.L. Bean has stayed true to who they are and their customers.

They have adapted to the tech landscape with impressive e-commerce while keeping their catalogs intact. They have stayed true to their core values and origins while offering enough variety to satisfy the modern consumer.



First off, as a Heritage Brand, somebody a few generations back created a company out of a need or an opportunity, or both. Look at the core values of the company from that time and notice if they have shifted over the years.

Focusing on what the core values were at the founding of the company is a great place to start your sleuthing. Which of those core values are still important to your customers?

By listening to what customers want, the core values and marrying those both to trends, it's easier to identify potential hot spots for strengths and weaknesses.

These core values come from your Value Statement. Your Value Statement is one of my 13 Brand DNA Principles™. It helps remind and reinforce the purpose of the company, build excitement within and attract top talent.


The second thing I would look at as a generational company are archives of successful campaigns. Dust them off and get them out. Are there old campaigns that were not as successful? This is also powerful information.

By analyzing past successes and failures, it's easier to formulate the strategy moving forward.


Look at the changes that have been made over the years in business to the logo, tagline and content. Are these changes big or non-existent?

Often, brands change so drastically because they want change, but it moves them away from the very thing that consumers loved about that brand.

The opposite side of the spectrum is that virtually nothing has changed, which in and of itself is a hindrance to growth.


Nostalgia is big, especially during tough times. People yearn for the good old days. They forget any problems that existed during those times, that's why they're considered "the good old days."

No other company can have what a Heritage Brand has: tradition, history, iconic branding, plus years of being in front of the consumer. Heritage can't be bought, it's earned.

After looking through all of the past campaigns, which ones are worthy of revisiting? First, look at trends, and then, look at language. Add in the generational factor and the history. Re-marketing a successful vintage campaign often has great success.


After doing all of this research, it's time to re-evaluate what can be let go and what can be re-ignited.

When a company looks from within to discover why sales are lackluster, it's a signal that the brand is catching up and ready to embrace change.

This opens up unexplored frontiers and possibly new products and positioning for evolution.


What hasn't changed in society in spite of technology, is that people still buy from people, even when they're sitting behind a keyboard.

A Heritage Brand can grow for many more generations by discovering if they need a brand refresh, a full rebrand or a pivot all by using my 13 Principles of Brand DNA™.

Until next time,

Keverne Denahan

Luxury Copywriter & Brand Expert

Copyright © Keverne Denahan 2021


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