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Sublimio.
We create impactful copy solid strategies stunning identities surprising names powerful logos wow experiences fascinating voices novel concepts slick visuals gorgeous videos strong brands
for meaningful brands. ambitious brands. unique brands. memorable brands. bold brands. outstanding brands. confident brands. daring brands. demanding brands. inspired brands. a tough world.
Andrea Ciulu Matteo Modica Strategist and Copywriter of Sublimio by Andrea Ciulu 5 MIN. READ 14.02.2024
Andrea Ciulu Matteo Modica Strategist and Copywriter of Sublimio by Andrea Ciulu 5 MIN. READ

Heritage luxury brands are true institutions who stood the test of time. But time passes, and even brand aristocracy needs to think about the next generation.

The Legacy’s Weight: The Double-Edged Sword of Heritage Branding

Being a heritage luxury brand can be likened to wearing a crown – it’s regal and garners respect, but it’s also heavy. Brands that have been around for decades or even centuries carry with them a story, a tradition, and a reputation.

This longevity is proof of their resilience and the enduring appeal of their products. But as with all things, the very elements that make them iconic can also become their anchors, weighing them down and preventing them from moving with the changing tides of consumer preferences.

On one hand, heritage brands have an innate authenticity that newer brands often aspire to but can’t replicate. Their storied past is filled with craftsmanship, innovation, and often, cultural significance. They have stood the test of time and have seen eras come and go, always emerging with their elegance intact.

This kind of trust and admiration from the audience is invaluable, making them a staple in the luxury market.

On the other hand, the world isn’t what it was even two decades ago. With the digital revolution and globalization, consumers’ exposure to brands, products, and cultures has expanded immensely.

The modern luxury enthusiast is not just satisfied with a brand’s legacy. They seek contemporary relevance. They are more informed, discerning, and have a strong desire for novelty. They want brands that reflect not just the grandeur of the past but the spirit of the present.

This means that heritage luxury brands can’t merely rest on their laurels. They can’t be museums that only showcase the past.

While their legacy is their strength, they must remember that today’s consumers interact with brands in multifaceted ways. Digital presence, sustainability, social consciousness, and adaptive innovation are no longer optional but essential.

In the fashion sector, for instance, heritage luxury brands are often challenged by newer labels that bring fresh designs and a different kind of energy. These newcomers, unburdened by a lengthy past, are agile and resonate quickly with younger audiences.

In the realm of high-end food and spirits, tradition is revered. However, there’s a growing appetite for fusion, experimentation, and unique experiences that tell a story.

This landscape then brings forth a vital question: how can heritage luxury brands retain their core identity while also evolving to meet the expectations of the modern consumer?

It’s a delicate dance, one that requires introspection, understanding, and a touch of boldness.

Refreshing Heritage Luxury Brands The North Face x Gucci fashion collection
The North Face x Gucci

The Preservation Puzzle: Balancing History with Innovation

The central challenge for heritage luxury brands undergoing a refresh lies in the tension between maintaining authenticity and embracing change. Stray too far from one’s roots, and you risk alienating a loyal customer base; resist change altogether, and the brand risks fading into obsolescence.

Mastering this equilibrium is the key to a successful evolution.

In order to succeed, the first principle is prioritizing core values.

‎Every heritage brand is anchored by a set of core values. These principles, whether they concern craftsmanship, design philosophy, or customer experience, have helped the brand withstand the test of time. In any refresh strategy, these values should remain non-negotiable.

For instance, a luxury watch brand that has always championed precision engineering must continue to do so, even if it integrates modern designs or smart features.

A second guiding principle is engaging with legacy audiences: while courting new consumers, heritage brands must not neglect their long-standing patrons.

Engaging with these loyalists, perhaps through exclusive events, legacy product lines, or commemorative collections, can instill a sense of appreciation and inclusion. Feedback from these customers can also provide crucial insights when charting new directions.

heritage luxury brands supreme louis vuitton
Supreme x Louis Vuitton

Heritage luxury brands should also consider modern collaborations with a nostalgic twist, an effective way to bridge the old with the new. Heritage brands can partner with contemporary designers, artists, or even celebrities, allowing fresh perspectives to infuse the brand.

Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with streetwear label Supreme is a prime example. While the collection was undeniably modern, it retained elements of Louis Vuitton’s luxury ethos.

Another opportunity is blending old tales with new mediums. Today’s digital age offers brands a plethora of platforms to tell their stories. While the medium may be new, the narrative can beautifully intertwine past achievements with current endeavors.

Whether it’s an Instagram series exploring the brand’s history, a podcast interviewing craftsmen, or an interactive website feature that takes users on a journey through time, the blend of old tales with new tech can be enchanting.

It’s always a good idea to innovate with caution. While innovation is crucial, not every trend needs to be pursued. Brands must discern which innovations align with their character.

A luxury brand known for its minimalist elegance may not benefit from flashy, tech-heavy store displays, whereas one celebrated for its avant-garde designs might.

heritage luxury brands Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet
Travis Scott x Audemars Piguet

‎‎

Getting a Heritage Luxury Brand Ready for Renewal

Heritage luxury brands embarking on a renewal journey often find themselves at a crossroads. While the need for evolution is evident, the path forward may not always be clear.

What’s important is to make sure that the brand as a whole is prepared for evolution

Have a Visionary Leadership

The successful transformation of brands like Gucci and Burberry can be attributed in large part to visionary leaders who weren’t afraid to take bold steps. Brands need stewards who respect the past but are unafraid to challenge conventions.

Leadership that embraces change, while being rooted in the brand’s values, can navigate the ship in uncharted waters with confidence.

Ensure Customer-Centric Evolution

It’s vital to recognize that brand refresh isn’t about change for the sake of change. Every decision should be anchored in enhancing the customer experience.

Engaging both legacy customers and potential new audiences through surveys, feedback sessions, and social listening can offer valuable insights.

Embrace Digital Mastery

From virtual showrooms to augmented reality experiences, digital offers a realm of possibilities. Heritage luxury brands should aim for digital mastery, leveraging platforms not just for sales, but for storytelling, engagement, and building a global community. This means elevating the digital literacy of the company. 

Plan for Comprehensive Training

The brand’s internal team, from store associates to marketing professionals, plays a pivotal role in conveying the refreshed brand image. Comprehensive training ensures that the brand’s renewed vision is consistently communicated at every touchpoint.

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