Déjà Vendu: The Duality of Nostalgia in Branding

Déjà Vendu: The Duality of Nostalgia in Branding

Déjà Vendu: The Duality of Nostalgia in Branding

Deja-Vendu-Thumbnail

Could I ever find in you again
The things that made me love you so much then?
Could we ever bring 'em back once they have gone?

— The Beach Boys, “Caroline, No”

Could I ever find in you again
The things that made me love you so much then?
Could we ever bring 'em back once they have gone?

— The Beach Boys, “Caroline, No”

In the now-infamous AMC’s Mad Men episode “The Wheel” when Don Draper is about to dazzle Kodak’s representatives he doesn’t speak of cameras. Instead, he shows them a set of really personal photos over a speech about the one thing that defines everyone’s happiest moments - nostalgia. “A twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone”, he describes it profoundly, adding that is “a place where we ache to go again.” Though, the idea of longing for past things is as much of personal experience as it is a cultural phenomenon.

Whether it is the yearning for 20th-century totalitarian regimes or the photorealistic retelling of Disney recent classics, we are a society that easily uses the past to trigger save emotional responses. Aside from the fact that nostalgia in most ways acts as a comfort object for the perceiver, it also could be a powerful marketing tool. One of those that could indicate an unrestrained tomorrow.

New Coke

Buying the Good Ol’ Days

One of the most reasonable explanations for nostalgia is that it’s an adverse reaction against the contentment of modern life. Every current generation could be described as bored with today’s technological conveniences and is uncertain about the possibilities of the future to come. 25-30 year-old people were longing for the artefacts and symbols of bygone eras because they always put them in a well-known state of intoxicated bliss.

The golden rule of nostalgia is that, inside of it, nothing ever ages. This is one of the factors behind the unchanged look of Coca-Cola logotype over the last 135 years. It was an indicative and cautionary case when the company decided to launch its New Coke product back in 1985. The result was a considerable backlash and sales drop due to the changed look and formula. The moral of the story was not just for the brand but for the whole market - if people are addicted to the good old days don’t impose them a lame hereafter.

Draft Punk

Present Intense

Aside from the highly individual perception of memories, the nostalgia only matters when it is looked from the nowadays' perspective. This is why the brand campaigns don't have to aim for the majority of the audience. Every separate age group has its own fond memories to be nostalgic for. For example, the digital era has spoiled Generations Y & Z to that extent that VHS tapes and payphones appear like curious antiques to them. Anything analogue (e.g. not digitally archived) has become exotic, valuable and definitely hip.

Such was the instance when the electronic duo Daft Punk came up with a marketing campaign that reflected that late-'70s spirit of their Random Access Memories record. Airbrushed artworks, the usage of the old Columbia Records logo, Sunset Strip-styled billboards — basically everything screamed "vintage West Coast vibe." The outcome? Hollywood Reporter called it "savviest multimedia marketing campaign to hit the music business in ages", while the LP itself sold over than 3.2 million copies just for its first year of release. Overall, brilliant execution of a past gently revived in the present.

Twitch

Tomorrow (Almost) Never Knows

But how one could manage to extract the best from both yesterday and today? What would be the ideal crosspoint of these points in time? Take as an example: the rebranding for the gamers streaming platform Twitch, made by Collins. Openly 1980s 8-bit aesthetics were given a contemporary treatment with the explicit purpose to deliver a quirky yet functioning hybrid of style and vision. 

Complimented by phrases such as "Not everyone is going to get it" or "You are already one of us" the campaign boldly alludes to the gaming as an alternate reality with its rulebook. We are not just talking about a distinctive plan of action which is expected to present ideas loud and beautiful. We are referring to the ironic application of former times combined with the contemporary skills of communication only to give birth to something new and ever-changing. Isn't that thing which everyone calls "tomorrow?"

More Thoughts

More Thoughts

More Thoughts

Fiction_Future_Thumbnail
Enter Fiction: Why Brands Need to Go Beyond Only the Facts
Minimalism
Minimalism in Branding: The Disciplined Rebel
Less-But-Better-Thumb
Less But Better: The Minimalist Way to Balance

Try the shortest path to all-new fresh thoughts.
One click away.

Try the shortest path to all-new fresh thoughts.
One click away.