The power of nostalgia in branding

Brick phones, film cameras and fairytales: what was old is new again.

Many of our happiest memories had brands lurking in the background. They were there for our first overseas trip, our first day of school, our first phone, and so on. And while we mightn’t realise it, that affinity doesn’t go away easily. Lately there’s been a surge in brands not only using nostalgia in marketing, but in their brand strategy and products too. They’ve aptly taken advantage of how we gravitate towards a familiar connection. Nostalgia has the power to revive a dying brand, or strengthen a flourishing favourite. To reach out to an old tribe, or create a new one.

Here are a handful of brands who have been making the most of nostalgia lately:

Nokia

The recent face-lift and re-launch of the Nokia 3310 is a classic example of a brand tapping into our need for nostalgia. The rebirth offers a breath of fresh air, acting as an antidote to fragile screens and small battery-life. There’s no telling how the phone will be used, whether it will replace a smart phone, sit on a shelf, or whether its sole purpose will be used to play Snake. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Because it’s the sensation of being transported back in time that people are buying it for.

Kodak

Another brand riding the nostalgia train is Kodak, boldly dubbing their recent re-release of the Super 8 camera an ‘Analogue Renaissance.’ Digital disruption appeared to spell the end for the sinking brand, but when they resurrected their 1971 logo and repositioned themselves around heritage and quality, they turned their struggle to remain relevant on its head. By rediscovering their original purpose, Kodak have re-engaged a core audience – a tribe of Hollywood filmmakers and photography buffs – and ignited a new appreciation of film photography and iconic Kodak Moments.

Disney

Nothing unites 90s kids quite like their old favourite Disney cartoons, and nothing gets them into the cinemas quicker than to see them re-created in live-action. So it’s no coincidence that Disney have come full circle, with Beauty and the Beast the latest blockbuster. And with sought-after branded merchandise targeting both young and old, Disney proves retelling fairytales is as much about entertaining a new generation of children as it is a drawcard for millennials buying back into the Disney franchise.

It’s undeniable that brands are digging up old gems to reconnect with audiences who once treasured them. And it’s working. It’s something that millions of dollars in research and development won’t solve, it can’t be measured, and it won’t win any awards in innovation. But nostalgia in brand strategy, marketing and product portfolio will tighten an invisible bond that transcends time and generations.

And as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Contributors

Strategist