Brands embark on heritage trail

There are signs that brand owners are forcefully returning to core values, and have begun to rediscover their belief in the heritage of the products they sell, says John Shannon

The status of the brand has been the subject of much debate during the past decade. Own label, economic recession and the erosion of consumer loyalty have combined to make brand building a far more complex and demanding communications task than before.

Such has been this pressure, that for a time it seemed as though even some traditionally marketing-led companies had begun to forget that often their brand name remained their most powerful asset.

Yet there are growing signs of a renewed self-confidence among brand owners in the power of their brand heritage to build a long-term relationship with consumers. Above all, they are rediscovering the huge emotional value of communicating the corporate provenance that lies behind individual branded products.

One company that is rediscovering the value of the corporate name is Schweppes, which is reported to be spending over $20m (13m) on a generic branding campaign across 24 markets in Europe.

The campaign is designed to enable Schweppes to fill an under-exploited sector in the European carbonated soft drinks market – the adult sector.

To achieve this objective, Sch-weppes is now moving away from product-led advertising.

Instead it is building on the heritage and emotional resonance of the Schweppes brand name, using the endline “Think Schweppes”.

Meanwhile, a number of other major companies are taking steps to re-establish their core values. Among them is Volvo, reported to be seeking a lead agency to co-ordinate a consistent international image. Another car manufacturer, Volks-wagen, is thinking along the same lines; a lengthy review of its agency arrangements in Germany was inspired by a desire to ensure that the core VW brand values were successfully conveyed.

The US sports shoe marketer Converse is pursuing a similar strategy. The company is understood to have tripled its European communications budget to $10m (7m) and is running a campaign designed to build on its heritage as “The Authentic American Performance Brand”.

What all of these companies have in common is that in each case the core brand has a resonance with consumers that goes far beyond anything that could be generat-ed by individual products.

By focusing their communi-cations on these key strengths, the companies are all unlocking the power of core brand values.

In choosing to return to core brand values they are affirming a re-newed confidence in the brand as the cornerstone of successful consumer marketing.

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