In today's fast-paced, opinionated society, where trends and attitudes change with lightning speed, creating lasting brand legacy is the ultimate marker of success.
This mission is being made harder to achieve by the current reactionary social climate. It’s not only possible, but also vital for brands and businesses who seek long-term success.
In this article, we’ll explore what it means for a brand to create a legacy in today's dynamic landscape, the importance of doing so, and some examples of companies that are leading the way.
Defining Brand Legacy
Brand legacy refers to the lasting impact a company has on its customers, industry, and society as a whole.
It goes beyond something short-term and flashy.
A stunt or quick sizzle to make cash and shift product won’t cut it.
Customers simply see through it.
And they will end up using the brand as the brand uses them, flippantly.
Instead, long-term legacy is inherently linked to delivering an intangible value.
This goes beyond products, services, and relationships.
It’s something more.
Something real that makes a difference to people’s lives and the world they live in.
It’s built on a foundation of trust, authenticity, and a deep understanding of customer needs, which helps establish a brand's reputation and shapes its future.
For brand to deliver this, they must first be understood, liked and be truthful about who they are, what they deliver and how they deliver it.
It’s an interesting paradigm.
If anything’s off, it’s less about legacy and more about survival.
The Challenge of a Fast-Moving, Opinionated Society
In an era marked by rapid tech advances and the rise of social media, opinions are easily shared and multiplied.
Trends emerge and fade faster than ever before and consumers really do have the power.
This landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for brands looking to create a legacy.
Brands must navigate through a vast sea of information.
Adapt quickly to changing consumer sentiments and engage with their audience on a deeper level.
Which is hard to find given the split in attitudes between established and emerging generations.
But they are also faced with a frightful reality.
Raise your head above the parapet.
Have an opinion or equally say nothing, and you can be left exposed.
Vulnerable to very real threat of being critiqued, or worse cancelled, fuelled by the immediacies of social media.
Put a foot wrong.
Deliver something a little left field. Unexpected.
And you’re disregarded.
Thrown out by the public.
Having to face a different uphill climb of different propositions.
And in some cases, having to win back your once brand loyal fans who have turned fickle, gone with the status quo, and for what? A like or follow to stay relevant and be controversial.
[and I’m aware that in some cases this kind of reaction is just..!]
The Importance of Brand Legacy
Legacy is crucial for several reasons.
Having legacy forges brand loyalty.
It creates bewildering popularity, and in some cases a cult like following.
Get to this stage and customers will like, share, talk about and even buy anything that you touch or even think about - and this can be void of taste and price.
Reaching these dizzy heights means brands can build their own (and sometimes deluded) worlds, and as result attract top talent, partners, and investors who align with a brand's purpose and vision, but more importantly propel the brand even further.
Solidifying its legacy.
This hopefully then serves as a buffer against the volatility of market trends, economic fluctuations, and even crises (sometimes).
And this isn’t just reserved for fashion brands.
Leading the Way
Several brands have successfully carved out a legacy in today's fast-moving society:
Apple's legacy is built on innovation, user-centric design delivered through emotional value, and a commitment to simplicity. They have consistently delivered ground-breaking products that have transformed industries, earning a loyal customer base and influencing the technology landscape.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod back in 2001, he did not sell the product - he sold the feeling the product gave you. It was revolutionary.
The pioneering ad read, ‘Say hello to iPod. 1,000 songs. In your pocket.’
Patagonia has created a legacy by championing environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility. Their commitment to social activism, ethical sourcing, and transparency has resonated with consumers, positioning them as a leader in their industry.
In September 2022, Founder Yvon Chouinard even went as far as announcing that the company’s profits will be donated to saving the planet.
Reporting, The Guardian wrote, this set “a new example in environmental corporate leadership.” Quoting Chouinard, “As of now, Earth is our only shareholder,” the company announced. “ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet’.”
Nike has built a legacy by inspiring athletes and promoting the concept of "just do it." Through powerful marketing campaigns, strategic partnerships, and ongoing support for athletes, they have established themselves as more than just a sportswear brand.
Tesla's brand legacy is centred around driving the transition to sustainable energy. They challenged the normality of the automotive industry and created high-performance electric vehicles, ergo becoming synonymous with innovation and environmental consciousness.
Creating a brand legacy in today's fast-moving, opinionated society is indeed possible and highly relevant.
Brands that prioritize authenticity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of their customers' values and aspirations have the potential to leave a lasting impact.
By fostering trust, embracing innovation, and aligning with societal values, these brands can navigate the dynamic landscape and establish themselves as leaders in their respective industries.
Ultimately, building a brand legacy not only contributes to financial success but also shapes the future of businesses and influences the world we live in.
By Mike Chivers, Creative Director at The PHA Group