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The Thing About Heritage Brands

 

David Cameron

Managing Partner

June 27, 2024

Heritage brands have advantages in places where other brands don't even have places.

 

Read that again.

 

As a founder who came to entrepreneurship at 40, and who’d grown up in the generalist world of big global advertising, I was always averse to picking a “vertical” to own. I felt doing so would limit the range of brands and categories I could immerse myself in. It would shrink the pool of brilliant collaborators I could work with from around our industry.

 

But when I launched LIGHT+CO back in 2014, I found pretty quickly an uncanny similarity among all of our favorite clients and creatives – we instinctually continued to be drawn to heritage brands. It was as if it was an irrefutable part of our DNA. 

 

If you're not familiar with Heritage Brands, here's one of our favorite explanations:

"Heritage brands live in three time zones—past, present, and future. This requires an organization whose members understand that the brand is bigger than they are, that they are a link in the chain, with an obligation to leave an even stronger brand to the next generation."

- Professor Mats Urde, Lund University, Sweden

That said, heritage brands and their stewards represent less of a "vertical" and more of a “horizontal,” cutting across categories, with some shared opportunities. They convert TIMELESS truths into TIMELY meaning and relevance. Truths that might incorporate provenance, mythology, sensory signatures, stubborn adherence to a founder's principles or formulation, and other unique and meaningful differences for a brand with some miles on it.

 

No one wants to be the one at the helm of the ship when the brand’s equities and relevance fade. Successful heritage brands ride the wave, but never truly wipe out.

This was the space that called to us. The opportunity to dig deep into a brand's marrow to restore its mojo. Rather than committing to a "vertical," the answer for our team was glaringly in the "horizontal."

Ever since making that intentional decision to focus on heritage brands, each new conversation with clients, creatives, and other brand stewards has gotten more fascinating and more fruitful.

Clearly defining what we do (and equally what we don’t) has opened doors and invited conversations with a host of brilliant thinkers and iconic brands I wouldn’t have been in touch with otherwise.

 

It’s also reignited lively conversations with old friends, colleagues and clients who similarly relish the hunt for a brand’s timeless truths and their timely expression.

 

Those responsible for stewarding, preserving, growing, and making lasting brands – they are a special class of marketer. They share a certain curiosity, and a deep sense of responsibility for leaving the brand better than they found it. At a time when examples of mass culture have become scarce, heritage brands and their steward armies represent small but mighty pockets of shared experience and collective purpose.

Before today, we have never taken LIGHT+CO's focus on heritage brands to the main stage (read: any of our social media, email newsletters, etc.) – we've kept it private, circulating in a "safe" world among those who already know us.

But that ends today. As we approach our 10 year anniversary in October, we're proud to openly declare our idiosyncratic purpose and preference. And we'll go on digging into storied brands' most powerful and authentic truths – as that's always been the most coveted part of what we do.

We'll turn marrow into mojo, igniting new energy, relevance and resonance for brands sitting on an untapped reservoir of power and meaning lying just beneath the surface.

It's time we start igniting. I hope you'll join us by the fire.

#heritagebrands #timelessandtimely #anniversary #marrowtomojo

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