Heritage can be a powerful asset. The longer a brand has been around, the more evidence there is that it can weather a variety of conditions, offering stability over the long term – something customers in many sectors value highly.
So if your brand has a long history, it makes sense to communicate that to your audience. And conveying your history doesn’t mean your brand has to look old-fashioned.
Brands with heritage to promote have a wide range of possible approaches at their disposal. Here are some examples from the finance sector, which we found while researching issue 2 of the Redhouse Brand Report.
A light approach
Hargreaves Lansdown (established 1981) uses confident capitals and a trustworthy dark blue in its logo to portray the brand as stable and reliable. But balancing that solidity is a fresher secondary colour palette and a playful typographic visual style. It’s a brand that wants its audience to know it can stay the course, without appearing stuck in its ways.
Conveying your history doesn't mean your brand has to look old-fashioned.
A confident approach
HSBC (with origins stretching back to 1865) acknowledges its heritage in its icon, an evolution of the original Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation’s house flag. While the shape has remained recognisable through the decades, the brand has moved with the times, most recently by updating the typography of the logo from a classic serif to a more modern sans serif font.
Outside the logo, the brand takes a sober and sophisticated approach to typography, contrasted with a generally bright and optimistic look and feel, full of white space and smiling people. The impression is of a brand that’s experienced but still forward-looking.
A radical approach
Schroders (established 1804) rebranded a few years ago with a bold, colourful, contemporary new visual identity. The brand promises modern, innovative services and a digital approach, with a look and feel that wouldn’t look out of place in a tech startup. But that doesn’t mean Schroders have cast off their two centuries of heritage: it still comes across strongly in stories and messaging. The surprise factor – that such a modern-looking firm could be hundreds of years old – even helps the heritage message cut through.
An approach that’s right for you
Your brand story, audience and strategic objectives will help determine the right strategy for your brand. If heritage is something your target customers value, it’s worth making it part of your brand.
But it’s important not to be burdened by your own history. How you decide to express it – through visuals, messaging or a combination; emphasising it with traditional design elements or keeping it more subtle – should be based on what you need it to do for you.