The Nostalgia Effect

Everyone loves a rebrand...don't they?

In the case of the recent news of the Co-op re-brand (which is more of a re-visit, re-brand) which harps back to the perceived glory-days of the 1960's. However, the re-brand is not just a logo change, it attempts to remind us of a better time for the group, follow the turbulence of recent years. It's clear the group has gone back to its roots to look for future success.

It isn't just the UK's largest mutual that is looking to the past for ideas. The nostalgia-effect has captured the consumers conciousness, and brands are all too ready to use this concept in their marketing efforts.

The nostalgia effect

(Will the 'back to being Co-op' slogan win back the hearts, minds and wallets of customers, or is it a throwback too far?)

There is little doubt that nostalgia has played a significant contribution in the inspiration behind many brands external public relations efforts. As a child of the 90's I can't ignore the plethora of pop-culture from my childhood that dominates Facebook sharing across my friend list. If you forgot about Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Xena Warrior Princess or Baywatch, no doubt you have seen them reborn as memes and gifs.

(Scotland's other national drink, Irn Bru, heads back to the past for its recent product design)

Many brands have gone through the archives of the past, with the likes of Irn Bru, taking inspiration from its heritage in its new product design. The re-visiting old branding seems to be prevalent  for drinks brands. Another Scottish born beverage, Tennents released a limited edition can, inspired by its original design. Others such as, 7Up and Coca-Cola have looked back at key moments of past design and incorporated elements into new branding.

(Sony released a limited run of the original PlayStation-inspired PlayStation 4's to mark the console's 20th anniversary)

Where the Co-op might be a recent example, global brands have re-visited old concepts to push new wares or re-establish perceptions, capitalising on designs that conjure the glory days of a bygone era. It is a success element that can be used in the fight against distributive brands. For every Uber-like success there is an iconic black-hackney cab that has a rich story and historical prevalence. And as any good PR knows, story-telling and brand narrative is a powerful tool.

And why not? What might be seen as a lazy attempt to win back customers, is a clever cost-effective move, reinvigorating old IP and brand equity that sits within an organisation, re-purposing it for a new era. If executed perfectly, it can be a perfect marketing and branding case-study. Often seen as a cheap way to make a quick-buck on the nostalgia-pound, it shouldn't been dismissed as such.

In short, consumer brands have tapped into a lucrative consumer zeitgeist, which I call the nostalgic effect.

 (Everything from Super Mario, Powerpuff Girls, and Barbie. Moschino has tapped into pop-culture icons to define its designs. Social media success has been vast, which has no doubt impacted the bottom line profits)

And it isn't just consumer brands, Hollywood has been at it for decades. The long-running joke that there is a lack original movies has long plagued the silver-screen. This year alone will see re-workings, re-boots (or re-imaginings) of  the BFG and Ghostbusters and Tarzan too. We already got the 'real-life' iteration of Jungle Book; with the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to follow in its footsteps.

(The Power Rangers defined much of my VHS-watching hours as a child and it looks like Hollywood is set to take me down memory lane, as I cough up money to go and see this film)

In a time where brands are fighting for the attention across a multitude of channels, sometimes the past is news enough to gain widespread coverage. Just Google "Co-op re-brand" to see in terms of social media debate and media coverage it has gained. 

Looking back to the archives of the past isn't new, nor innovative, but it is both strategic and tactful which could lead to brand success.

Emma Silver