The role of traditional brand heritage in a fast paced digital era

Heritage contributes profoundly and intrinsically to a brand's core value but, much like respect, it is an elusive and hard won asset that cannot be bought or easily acquired overnight; it can only be earned over time through careful nurturing, authenticity and sincerity.

So says Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty Brand Champion and CEO Yael Geffen, who has first hand experience in optimizing the innumerable virtues of strong corporate heritage and navigating the challenges it can present in a fast changing digital era. "In simple terms, a company's heritage is its long standing, measurable track record of providing goods or services in the public domain and this established performance record along with the tacit promise of continuity it implies, enables customers to distinguish you favorably from other brands." "And this distinction is not only a foundation for ongoing corporate strength and profitability, it also engenders a multitude of additional advantages that offer brands competitive edge, including preferential employee recruitment, a buffer against negative exposure and an easier of introduction of new products." For decades, strong heritage brands were able to retain their dominance relatively easily through their established reputations and by maintaining their service excellence status quo, but since the millennium it has become increasingly challenging to remain ahead of the rapidly advancing new breed of competitors. However, Geffen believes that traditional brands which become adept at balancing the fine line between authenticity and relevance in a fast changing marketplace will have a decidedly lofty upper hand in the new order. 'While preserving brand continuity and product integrity is always a priority, resting on your laurels in an era defined by innovation and disruption is no longer an option and we have seen some of the older brands fall by the wayside in recent years. "Meanwhile, brands that have proactively adapted to the changing needs of the modern consumer have grown exponentially stronger, a perfect example being Sotheby's which celebrated its 275th year with a ceremonious ringing of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this month." "One only has to look at brands like Barclays established in 1690, Colgate 1806 and Cadbury's 1824 to understand the true value of heritage." Geffen believes that in a turbulent economy where consumers are tightening their belts, heritage is especially appreciated as people tend to prefer brands that they perceive to be more credible, trustworthy and reliable. Although newer brands cannot realistically expect to create as strong a legacy as companies like Sotheby's without paying their dues overtime, Geffen says that nowadays it is possible to establish credibility and brand loyalty in far less time than before the digital era. "Establishing a distinctive brand is through communication which enables consumers to shape their perceptions based on a clear understanding of who you are and what you do." The following guidelines were given for establishing credibility, paving the way to a strong heritage and to remain relevant and ahead of the competition: Record your history. In doing so, you'll begin to see some common trends and identify a story that connects who you are now to who you were at the beginning. Always keep the consumer at the heart of your brand it will not only keep them onside, but you will also gain invaluable insight into your market. Endeavour to not only stay abreast of current market trends but to understand where they will lead and what the future holds in your industry in other words, where to next. Develop a reputation for accountability. Stay focused on the goal. Don't be afraid to expand. Never stop innovating. During the last two decades, much has changed in the way Sotheby's conducts business and the level of sophistication needed for a leading brand to maintain its presence in an ever shifting landscape, but the principles remain the same. An authentic brand that continues to put its customers first and uphold the best service delivery possible will always have a strong place in the market.


29 Jul 2019
Author Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty
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