No more heroes any more
Brands should reconnect with the icons of the past instead of searching for contemporary cool
In the search for modernity, an original message often gets left behind. When brands attempt rebranding, they lose the essence of what made them desirable in the beginning.
Take, for example, the charity Cheshire Homes. Recent press has described how the charity feels it needs a more contemporary “vibe”; something more appropriate in the current climate, and so has decided to rechristen itself Equability.
Leonard Cheshire, the founder of Cheshire Homes, was first and foremost a war hero who was later deified for his charitable work. He started the charity after serving as a pilot in the second world war.
Many years ago, I was approached by Cheshire for advice on how his charity could move forward in the future. When I told my late mother I was going to meet him, she was stunned to silence; such was the reputation of this RAF fighter ace.
It’s a shame that the modern generation can’t engage in that power, and are more concerned with Big Brother’s hapless misfits rather than real heroes, men and women of substance like Leonard Cheshire.
Brands that have existed for over 50 years have a unique presence in the lives of those that look back so nostalgically at their products. Cadbury’s Flake, Horlicks and Hovis have managed to re-engage themselves with the younger generation.
When asked my advice on how to rebrand, I reply with a well-used Borkowski phrase – “check the bathwater for any babies”. In my opinion, the most powerful element in a brand is the old icon, like Leonard Cheshire himself.
In one sense, rechristening yourself is a publicity stunt in itself. It allows charity givers the opportunity to revisit worthy causes that have been overshadowed by the more vibrant and powerful organisations like Comic Relief and Oxfam, who don’t appear to need to reinvent themselves.
But as the footballing failures return from Germany and feckless reality show freaks generate acres of news coverage, perhaps we should reconnect with the heroes of the past, and extol their virtues, instead of blindly following the advice of a rebranding expert who just conjures up a silly acronym.
Change and modernity are essential in this time-compressed age, but in the rush for the 15 minutes of fame, remember the core values and vision of what makes any organisation great.