You might not appreciate the term, but we could say that the best marketing is emotional blackmail.
To get your customers to buy your product, you need to trigger some emotions, and one of the most popular choices for companies all over the world is nostalgia.
In the past decade, more and more businesses are opting for vintage logo design in the hopes that they will evoke some money-spending urges in people, but is this effective?
What are some of the benefits and dangers of utilising a vintage logo design nowadays? Let’s take a look.
Before we delve into the actual benefits and potential problems with nostalgic marketing, let’s discuss the very concept of using nostalgia.
Why is that such a potent emotion that it can inspire people to spend their hard-earned cash?
How does it work?
Nostalgia ties a specific object, smell, sound or something else to an old memory and immediately invokes all of the feelings we had at that point, mashing them into a compelling sensation.
Most marketing companies try to capture this emotion by finding something that seems specific to a particular period.
The funny thing about nostalgia, however, is that it is not constricted only by what you have experienced.
You can also be nostalgic about something you never actually got to see.
Robin Marantz Henig from Psychology Today notes that:
“The music that was popular in your youth seems to be the music you recall most vividly – and most nostalgically – for the rest of your life. However, so is the music that was popular in your parents’ youth. In other words, you are nostalgic for music that was being played before you were born – nostalgic for a time you did not even live through.”
So, nostalgia brings back memories of the “good ol’ days” regardless of whether you have experienced them.
It sounds a bit weird, but it works, and most experienced marketers know this all too well.
The Power of Nostalgia
OK, we understand the concept of nostalgia and what it usually entails, but why is it so powerful?
Where does it draw its strength from?
Well, the secret lies in the fact that most of our good memories from the past are idealised representations of real events.
If we could return to those moments, we would probably be surprised by how different they are in our mind.
In his 1992 paper, Alan R. Hirsch states:
If one defines nostalgia as a yearning for an idealised past, the bittersweet nature of it becomes more evident. One can never return to this past, it never indeed existed. Moreover, the present reality, no matter how good, can never be as good as an ideal – which nostalgia has created. Thus the saying “you cannot go home again.”
All right, all of this sounds a bit depressing, but let’s look at some ways this psychological trick can help (or hurt) your business.
How can a vintage logo design benefit your brand?
1 – Making a Connection
Now and then, you should remind your returning customers why they love your products and utilise nostalgia to show them that they have already made a good choice in the past.
In 2013, Microsoft released a blatantly nostalgic and suggestive marketing video where they introduced the new Internet Explorer by looking back at the ‘90s.
The video shows various things from the ‘90s humorously and interestingly and manages to include in the compilation their often ridiculed, simplistic and outdated internet explorer with its famous, old-school logo design.
The most critical part was their slogan “You grew up, so did we.”
Interestingly, as you can see below the actual video, there is a link towards a page called “Browser You Loved to Hate.”
This is an excellent example of how even some bad memories can become good through a nostalgic filter.
What can your business learn from this?
It does not matter whether your company or a product was loved or hated in the past.
A vintage logo design will show your customers that you have already made a connection at some point and that is all that matters.
2 – Time-Saving Option
Vintage design can also be a great way to save time and resources in your marketing campaign.
The fact that consumers recognise your old logo means that they already know what your company has to offer and don’t need to be re-educated.
Overall, it saves you time and money and works mainly on the strength of your product.
Coca-Cola, for example, does not need to tell their customers anything about their products because they assume that everyone already knows.
At the end of the 19th century, they created the famous logo design written in cursive and have remained faithful to it for many years.
Now and then, the company offers limited edition, nostalgic retro bottles with the vintage logo that became famous in the ‘50s and ‘60s named “red disc” that features a bottle and the company’s name.
This works great not only for the nostalgic reasons but also because some believe that Coca-Cola tastes better from a glass bottle.
The company does not want to disprove those rumours.
What can your company learn from that?
Sure, Coca-Cola is a huge company, it can now do any advertising, and it will be effective as long as people hear about it.
However, even smaller companies can use previous experience and remind people of their presence with a simple logo change.
3 – Following the Trends
All this being said, one of the reasons why companies choose a vintage logo design nowadays is that it is popular.
Vintage design is all the rage right now, and if you are not following that trend, you could be missing out on some significant exposure.
It seems like some of the best logo designs are the ones that try to capture that vintage look.
Take Kodak, for example; a famous company founded back in 1888.
Back in the days, the company’s name was synonymous with photography, and their red and yellow logo was hugely recognisable.
Of course, a lot has changed in photography in these past few decades and the digital cameras they were so famous for ceased to be profitable.
They changed their business after near bankruptcy in 2012 and opted for a new direction that now even includes cryptocurrencies.
They recreated their vintage logo design from the 1970s and brought back their famous colour scheme.
Again, what can you take from this?
Choosing a retro style does not mean that you are not looking into the future.
The fact remains that the vintage style is somewhat popular right now and your company could benefit from this logo redesign.
Of course, you should try not to be too pretentious or sleazy in your design, or it might backfire.
4 – At All Cost
Of course, you do not have to follow the trends at all cost and risk losing the established brand you already have just because it is popular.
Take Instagram, for example.
Quite recently, they changed their famous logo depicting an old-school camera with the word “Insta” on it and turned it into a simple, purple design more appropriate for the modern understanding of a camera.
In a way, they went against the popular nostalgic trend, and it paid off.
Print Mag notes:
Instagram’s continued success and the generally positive reception its redesign received suggests that not all brands benefit from, or require, an active link to their past.
What can you take from this?
Always be critical.
Analyze your own company and think whether it is a good idea to go retro or not on your logo design.
You have to think about your target audience and their perception. Ask yourself – is it me?
Problems with Young Brands
We have already mentioned the benefits of choosing a retro logo, but are there also some drawbacks? Of course, there are.
What happens when you do not have an older logo option to revert to?
What if you own a young company that doesn’t have a rich history behind it but still wants to follow the vintage logo design trends?
Well, this is a dangerous path for any business.
You have to know the difference between making a homage to another period and carelessly pretending you are something you are not.
In the end, let’s summarise everything so far.
There is no doubt that nostalgia has a powerful effect on the potential consumers, but you have to know how to use it.
One of the most critical aspects of creating a vintage logo design is that it allows you to connect with your old consumers and reminds them why they chose you in the first place.
Besides that, if they recognise the logo, the consumers probably already know a lot about it, so you do not need to spend some extra time and effort to present your products to them.
If nothing else, vintage design is worth following only because it is popular right now and might help you get in on the action.
That being said, there is no need to follow the trends at all cost.
Think about your company, your branding and your products.
Will they look good in a retro fashion?
Not only that, but do you also have the right to reminisce about the good old days?
Were you around at the time?
If you do not have the answers to these questions, perhaps it is best not to risk it and follow your own path.
Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.