Branding Trend: Leveraging a Company’s History and Founders


In a time when our culture is obsessed with the hottest new restaurant, latest gadgets, and rising tech superstar, another surprising trend is emerging in branding. Perhaps since predicting the future has become so unpredictable, businesses are looking into their pasts to help shape their futures. This line of brand storytelling inspires loyalty among their current fans while heartening new prospects to give them a try since they have proven their integrity and trustworthiness for decades—sometimes even centuries.

The big takeaway with this brand storytelling approach is that customers want to know your values, your history, and your personality through your website design, blog, social media networks—anywhere your business has a presence. The more transparent and authentic you can be—whether your business is new or has enjoyed a long history—the more likely that your business, too, can establish a long-lasting legacy.

Here are four brands that are embracing their histories to showcase their longevity and entrepreneurial roots through great web design, social media marketing, and solid online strategy.

  1. Kentucky Fried Chicken

A familiar American icon, Colonel Sanders has been selling fried chicken since the 1930s and continues to do so even since his passing in 1980. Today’s Colonel Sanders is played by a sarcastic Norm MacDonald, and KFC’s Chief Marketing Officer shares that these ads “use its founder’s values, along with some of his wacky real-life moments, to keep sales rolling….[including] how he defended an employee in a gunfight,” according to AdAge.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to share pieces of your real-life to your customers.

  1. Dodge Brothers

The recent Dodge campaign taps into the entrepreneurial spirit of Dodge Brothers Horace and John, who launched the company in 1900. The current commercials depict the brothers as rambunctious renegades who were competitive with not only each other but also Ford. The goal for these ads was to show that “today’s Dodge vehicles have the same passion for performance as John and Horace Dodge established in the first vehicles they crafted more than one hundred years ago,” explains their CMO.

Takeaway: People want see the personalities behind the businesses they support.

  1. Filson

Founder C.C. Filson’s fingerprints are all over the Filson brand today. On the home page of their website, a drawing of their fearless founder is featured with his original promise: “We guarantee every item purchased from us. No more, no less. Your satisfaction is the sole purpose of our transaction.” How’s that for trustworthiness? As Filson’s Creative Director explains to Fast Company, “We’re just starting to really tell the brand’s story. My job isn’t to make things up, it’s about creatively showing and telling the stories that exist here.” 

Takeaway: Every employee and customer has stories to share. Share them.

  1. J.R. Watkins

This company is “literally” resurrecting their founder, who died in 1911, through an Instagram campaign with the hashtag #GhostMyPost. These posts include the founder’s image in photos with comments seemingly from the ghost himself with life advice that pertain to the goods they sell, including natural bath, body, and home care goods. Their CMO explains to Adweek, “The best way to go door to door now is on Instagram.”

Takeaway: Experiment on social. Be funny, silly, authoritative…and most importantly, present.

How could you showcase your company’s roots and values more? Contact us today for ideas how we can help leverage your brand stories through a new web design and social media marketing.

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