Those Were the Days

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Well, in the case of some the best-known brands in the world, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Target, Ralph Lauren, Pottery Barn and Versace are hopping on the retro bandwagon lately and creating a big buzz.

Think: Target’s 20 years of Design for All campaign; Ralph Lauren and Pottery Barn’s Friends collection; last but certainly not least, Versace’s reinvention of the “jungle dress” that made jaws drop around the world for a second time when J.Lo strutted down the runway recently.

So, why is it that big brands are looking to the past to shape their future? *Queues All in the Family theme song . . . because those were the days. Those were moments whose cultural impact was felt across a generation of consumers, influencing what they wanted to look like, listen to and hang with. They remember. And they’re ready to get swept up in the moment again.

In a loud marketplace, nostalgia marketing breaks through. Think of the Pavlovian dog: every time he hears a bell he salivates because he knows the bell signals food. Now, think of the modern consumer, inundated with a million marketing messages a day. When a brand bubbles up a concept that they already associate with positive feelings, it breaks through the clutter by sparking good memories and placing the brand right in the center of them. Whether that means going retro with your own brand nostalgia like Target and Versace or tapping into cultural nostalgia like Ralph Lauren and Pottery Barn, it can be a truly effective way to position your brand as one that stands the test of time.

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