Why we fall in love with heritage brands

Every ‘old’ brand I’ve ever connected with has genuinely had me head over heels in love with their heritage storytelling...

These items hold so much more meaning to us because we connect with their story on a deeper level and thus, they hold more value.

One of the most famous heritage brands Thinking Juice has the pleasure of working with is Barbour – the fifth generation family-run connoisseurs of quality, durability and attention to detail. As an impeccable case study for the success of a heritage brand over the years, Barbour has capitalised on its history of design innovation in order to appeal to today’s consumers (and win our hearts).


Originally a brand whose products were designed to withstand a lifestyle in the toughest British elements, Barbour tell robustly nostalgic tales. They don’t need to fabricate anything, they need only tell their 120-year-old story of family and Britishness to captivate their audience.

Brands that have a legacy behind their name have the power to inspire their audience to dream by producing content that arouses the senses and transport them to another time and place. They can evoke powerful sentiments towards their products because they have become representative of the simpler way of life. They can move people with indisputably authentic storytelling where others can’t, in an increasingly cluttered marketing landscape.

Not specific to heritage per say, brands now frequently invest significant budget and creativity into creating short feature films. They are intended to capture the subtleties of some element of the brand lifestyle that other marketing communications cannot. Giving credit to some brands outside of our portfolio, Cornish-originated cold water surf brand Finisterre is a master of storytelling through film. Essentially the first brand to identify cold water surfing as an industry of its own, Finisterre was tasked with defining and creating aspiration from scratch. The result of their creative efforts is stunning and despite being relatively short, Finisterre continue to tell a breathtaking story of heritage.

Likewise, American outdoors clothing retailer Filson created a short film called ‘Open Door to Solitude’ in 2014 which was breathtaking. It follows the true story of a 68-year-old man named Ed who frequently rides into the Colorado high country alone. In 6 minutes, you are immersed in the sounds and sites of the place he calls paradise and the result is breathtaking. I’d never come across Filson before but as my first exposure to the brand, I felt inspired on a very personal level. It’s a magnificent film and I urge you to watch it.

Marketing consultant Peter Fisk interviewed 100 global brands who were ‘winning’ in their respective categories to find out what made them different. The biggest revelation that he discovered was that each of the brands innovated to shape the market they were in to their advantage, not the other way around.

Indeed, heritage brands like Barbour, Patagonia and Hunter have evolved in order to flourish and lead in their categories. They have all repurposed their unwavering commitment to quality design (once meant for a niche audience) and adapted it for the lifestyle market too. Thus stepping sideways as brands defined by practicality for the harsh outdoors, to appeal to a broader array of consumers who equally value quality and longevity.

The most successful heritage brands still hold onto their original purpose.

Their marketing illustrates the part their brand plays in the lives of the real people who have bought and will continue to buy them throughout the centuries. The priority for heritage brands must be to protect what they stand for and the authenticity of their marketing around that; they must also continue to innovate in order to ride the ever-changing tide of digital and its influence on consumers.

*Original article featured in The Drum.