Branding Strategy Insider

Leveraging Nostalgia For Brand Relevance

Nostalgia can be a powerful ally in building brands. As Dr. Bob Deutsch observed here on Branding Strategy Insider, “As we age our nostalgic yearnings grow, making us more receptive to advertisers and marketers use of what researchers call ‘a longing for positive memories from the past.’ In addition to time’s arrow, this desire for nostalgia is further intensified by society’s present circumstance of receding predictability and opportunity.”

A recent report from the folks at JWT Intelligence reveals some interesting ways music superstars are turning back the clocks to strengthen their brands, and win over increasing numbers of fans. The band Coldplay promoted their most recent album launch with a series of small ads placed in the classified section of a selection of newspapers. In the North Wales Daily Post, the advert for Everyday Life reportedly appeared side by side with ads for hay bales and a refrigerator. For select fans, the band also took the opportunity to revive a much-loved tradition: sending (seemingly) personally typed postcards.

Coldplay also chose to release their latest album on cassette tape. As it turns out, cassette tapes are experiencing a kind of renaissance. In the UK, the BPI (A record label association) is predicting the demand for cassette tapes will be 100,000 in 2019, more than double the demand in 2018. And the majority of consumers will be under the age of 25 – which is remarkable given the last time demand was that high was in 2004.

There’s an annual event called Cassette Store Day, which originated in the UK in 2013 and dedicated to the format, that is now thriving across the world in the US, Canada, China, Indonesia among others. Teen sensation Billie Eilish, who was not yet born when cassettes were popular, released her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on a limited-edition lime green and orange cassette, including a UV glow-in-the-dark version making it both collectible and “instagrammable.”

Marie Stafford captures why this is so effective, “In this digital age, analog formats offer novelty with a helping of nostalgia, and even anemoia—nostalgia for a time you have never known.”

It’s important to have someone on the brand team paying attention to obscure and interesting trends in the culture. We forget that, with a seemingly limitless pool of customer data to mine to create the perfect brand and marketing interaction, the act of simply doing something interesting never gets a chance to thrive because immediate ROI cannot be proven.

Don’t ignore the appeal of a simpler time. Even if the audience wasn’t alive to experience it.

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