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4 Brands That Have Stood the Test of Time

It takes a lot of strength for a brand to weather decades, nevermind centuries, of passing consumer trends, mergers, acquisitions and scandals. To stick around for hundreds of years, brands must evolve but ultimately remain consistent.

As a marketer, your job is to ensure that the brand you promote has as long a life as possible. Here are some shining examples of brands that have stood the test of time; use them as a blueprint for your brand:

Tiffany & Co

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Photo by Renee Silverman CC BY-ND 2.0

New York’s Tiffany & Co. is the go-to provider of high-end American luxury jewelry and designer fashion. But did you know that this posh business provided the Union army with essential goods during the Civil War?

Tiffany & Co. was already well-known for its diamonds and silver goods, but when the war broke out, the company began to manufacture surgical equipment and flags, as well as sabers and handguns. (Source) After the war ended, the U.S. government continued to call upon the company for service, with the retailer making key revisions to the Great Seal of 1885 and the U.S. Navy’s Medal of Honor—the highest ranking award for military service.

Marketing Lesson: Hone your core services and stick to what you know, but always look for opportunities to innovate and don’t be afraid to branch out into a new market should the opportunity arise. You might go into business manufacturing one particular item and find yourself deciding to venture down a new path along the way.

Lloyd’s of London

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Photo by Rob Deutscher CC BY 2.0

After almost 300 successful years in business—starting off as a coffee shop in 1688—specialty insurance marketer Lloyd’s of London came close to crashing in the late 1980s. This happened when the market was hit with a large amount of unexpected long-tail insurance claims stemming from industrial workers exposed to asbestos in the 1960s. Since policies were written before companies knew about the risk of asbestos, many of Lloyd’s members refused to compensate employees when they were ordered to do so. This resulted in the bankruptcy of thousands of Lloyd’s investors who had underwritten policies exposed to billions of pounds of asbestos-related claims. (Source)

To handle these larger-than-expected claims, Lloyd’s restructured and formed a group called Equitas. The company then made several changes to its regulatory policies by tightening membership and revising financial underwriting requirements. It also increased oversight to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

Marketing Lesson: Don’t be blindsided; anticipate stormy weather with strategies to compensate for losses. In a highly competitive marketplace, your company must be prepared to offset business hiccups with preplanned course-correcting measures.

Stella Artois

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Photo by chanlone CC BY-ND 2.0

So, you think Guinness is old? Consider this: Beer manufacturer Stella Artois can trace its roots all the way back to 1366. (Source) But it wasn’t always called Stella Artois.

The company spent 351 years as the Den Hoorn brewing company (as the horn on the label indicates) before master brewer Sebastian Artois purchased it in 1717 and affixed his last name to the bottle. “Stella” was later added in homage to a special Christmas batch that was brewed for loyal customers (Stella means “star” in Latin). One could argue that renaming a company that spent three centuries under a different guise would be a recipe for disaster. But by then the company had built such a loyal following that its patrons embraced the change and were happy to go along for the rebranding ride.

Marketing Lesson: Be judicious when it comes to rebranding, and make sure your loyal customers support the change. As Stella Artois proved, as long as you are producing a consistent product or service, your patrons should follow you—and it could provide a great spark for your company.

Bass Ale

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Photo by Seth Anderson CC BY-SA 2.0 Desaturated from Original

Bass Ale is another beer industry stalwart whose bright red triangle and cursive lettered logo has been around since the Bass Brewery was founded in 1777. In fact, it’s one of the oldest trademarked logos on the market today. It’s a timeless logo, one that is not susceptible to changing public opinion. It’s also been glorified twice by famous artists, as seen in Edouard Monet’s last major work “A Bar at the Folies-Bergè” and in Picasso’s painting “Glass and a Bottle of Bass.”

Marketing Lesson: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Bass logo now markets itself, as customers immediately associate the visual representation with the company name. Don’t make unnecessary changes if your customers are satisfied and your marketing strategy is successful.

Can you name some brands that have stood the course of time, continuing to produce valuable products? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

By Eric Vidal – Eric Vidal, Sr. VP, Lead Generation, Broadsuite Media Group