A few years ago, on my way to a holiday with a friend I picked up magazine from a well-known airline and there was an article that immediately caught my attention (I have kept the magazine to this day). The article was an interview with online retail pioneer David Lauren. David Lauren is not only the son of iconic and legendary fashion designer Ralph Lauren, he is the senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications of Polo Ralph Lauren.
The article discussed David Lauren’s success of launching the company’s website in 2000 and at the time of the article (2010) the site received more than 50 million unique visitors a year from more than 190 countries. What caught my attention about the article however was not the impressive statistics, it was what David Lauren envisioned for the company’s website.
The online pioneer wanted to capture what his iconic father had been a pioneer of. This was marketing and lifestyle branding and David Lauren wanted to take that vision and bring it onto the world wide web. He called the concept ‘merchantainment’ – a seamless blending of merchandising and entertainment. David Lauren stated “My goal was to create context and stories around these beautiful products, in the way that Ralph Lauren has done it in our stores and in our ads”. By stating that what David Lauren’s was doing was helping the brand grow and keep alive what his father created; I perceive this as legacy marketing.
Legacy marketing is handing down a product or service that has been successful and learning from it to help the brand grow and have sustainability. Everyday a product or service is being marketed. For success to happen it has to be marketed well by looking at the target audience, data, being strategic and tactical. The successful product or service of today is the story of tomorrow and the legacy of the future. Ralph Lauren clearly demonstrates this by being a luxury fashion giant for the last 40 years and continuing to grow.
Another successful brand of legacy marketing is the multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate that is the Walt Disney Company. Through its 92 year existence, Disney is renowned for telling timeless stories that have captured the hearts of children and adults alike. Disney has maintained its legacy not just through its story telling but by also evolving with the times. The animators and story tellers of today have learned from the ones who stood before them and helped Disney’s legacy continue. This has been made more evident following the success of the technology ground breaking smash hit live action remake The Jungle Book. Due to the film earning $965.8 million worldwide, Disney recently announced they are making a live action remake of the much loved and popular animated film The Lion King.
By keeping its true essence of story-telling (which always conveys an important life message) and evolving with technology, Disney’s legacy will continue. The 3D computer- animated film Frozen clearly also demonstrates this as it is the highest grossing Disney animated film of all time amassing a whopping $1.276 billion in the box office.
Ok so some of you reading this might be thinking that’s all well and good these global companies have created a legacy but how does this relate to businesses not on that scale? Well, allow me to explain. Legacy marketing starts internally from any business and comes from many sources. Legacy marketing can occur from passing the torch of knowledge to employees by providing thorough training and workshops and by also doing so when a new system or process for example has been put into place. To get a grasp of how to keep a legacy going, it is vital for management (and staff) to look back at the company’s mission statement and ask themselves “Are we staying true to what is at the core of our business? How can we achieve or continue to achieve this?”. This is where strategic planning will come into play to reflect the organization’s values and in creating sustainability.
Whether you’re a new or established business, testimonials can be essential in creating a positive legacy. Testimonials are evidence that you are satisfying your clients or customers needs with the products or services that your business provides. They add creditability to your business and your brand. It is also important to note that team work helps a legacy grow. The sales team are the ears of the customer as they are the closet point of contact. By working in close collaboration with the marketing department, the sales team can provide invaluable information which can help with branding, strategy and ultimately satisfying the consumer which will result in repeat business and growth for the organization.
As legacy marketing also involves looking at the past, it also important to celebrate it too. On their website, organizations should have a section on the company history i.e. how it was formed, celebrate pivotal anniversaries such as one year, ten-year anniversary etc. on and off-line. This is because from an employee standpoint this helps them get an understanding of what the organization has achieved so far. It can actually be a motivational tool and can cause a sense of pride in employees as they realise that they are part of that legacy in the present and in the future. From a consumer standpoint, by knowing about what an organization has achieved so far and its backstory it helps humanize the brand, allows consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions and can create brand loyalty. Consumers do not just buy a product or service; they also buy into the brand and its story.
Success and sustainability does not happen overnight. It takes time and along the way it is a learning curve. Everyone has a story to tell and have to take the appropriate actions for their legacy to be made.