something done or presented in order to evoke feelings of nostalgia. "an evening of TV nostalgia".
A Dive into the Art of Reviving Brands and nostalgia aesthetic.
Anyone else’s wrapped in thousands of blankets on the sofa, just like the princess and the pea? Honestly, we are just happy to look at the grey world from inside during winter. We have a hot cocoa in hand, and we plan on watching some Rom Coms as soon as we are done writing this post. This season has been so nostalgic but there is something cozy about that feeling, don’t you agree? Nostalgia is such a powerful emotion and it can be transferred into branding, so slip into your comfy lounge wear or brew yourself some tea—we'll wait for you.
Nostalgia isn't just about missing the past.
It's a feeling that runs deeper, touching on our emotions and connections. It's not just tied to eras we've lived through; it can also be about longing for times we've never experienced. So here's the thing: we all feel it, but in our own unique ways. It’s hard to define nostalgia since it looks different for everyone. Thinking about the 90s from someone who had their childhood in that era is much different than for someone who experienced their teenage years at that time—or from someone who didn’t even live through it. From a childhood perspective, nostalgia from the 90s might feel like dropping a bicycle in front of our friend’s lawn to see if they could come play outside with us, while from a teenage perspective it can be about the whimsical goth aesthetic and Backstreet Boys posters in bedrooms.
Nostalgia runs deep. It's a desire to go back and have something unattainable. Thus being such a powerful emotion to play with in branding. These romanticized memories of our childhood or the fantasy of experiencing the 60s (how much are you ready to pay to go back?) …. Now, thinking of it, there is a hint of pain in nostalgia. From this strong desire for something we cannot have.
Essentially, nostalgia is about simpler, happier times.
It's that longing for a period when life seemed less complicated, more carefree. We all struggle to stay present, and we tend to long for the next good thing. Yet, when that next good thing happens, we don’t notice it because we're already looking to the horizon. Nostalgia, in a sense, is realizing that the best thing we are longing for is somewhere else in time. Fortunately, it's not the truth, as we tend to remember things better than they were.
Thinking about the 18th century as the era of perfume and romantic letters, opulent parties full of the waltz and profiteroles is great and all, but the truth is far more darker and we wouldn’t go back, even if you were to pay us a great deal of money. That's the thing about nostalgia: it's only about the best memories. That's why nostalgia marketing works especially well when life feels uncertain—when things are changing fast around us—that pull toward nostalgia gets even stronger. It becomes a refuge, a safe space offering comfort in the chaos. Nostalgia's power lies in its ability to whisk us away, if only for a moment, to a time that feels stable and familiar, away from today's uncertainties.
“It shocks me how I wish for...what is lost and cannot come back.”― Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
4 important steps for Nostalgic Marketing.
When taking all the complexity that shapes nostalgia into consideration, the use of nostalgia in branding and marketing becomes a powerful tool. It is emotions that drive customers' choice, not logic, and nostalgia is one of these intense emotions that reaches us deep down. Our blog post on human connections and brand loyalty goes deeper into it, if you need more info and IKEA effect blog post is showing you a way to do so. In the meanwhile, if you are looking to sprinkle some nostalgia in a brand identity or a marketing campaign, there are some important steps to note to make sure it is successful.
A specific nostalgic campaign won’t reach everyone, but it can be used to bridge generations. Nostalgic memories depend on your age, generation, what happened at that time, where you were born, etc. So, depending on who is targeted, bringing back products or references from their childhood or teenage years will work only for that targeted generation. Although, these references can be shared. Disney, for example, who is exactly in the business of nostalgia has done something brilliant by making a remake of the Lion’s King movie in 2019. The original animated one was a huge success when it came out in 1994 and it marked the childhood of 80s-90s babies. And who had babies of their own by the time the remake came out? That’s it. The 80s-90s kids. We can bet that the nostalgia had the new parents shared their love and memories of this movie by bringing their own children to the cinema.
2. Adapt in a modern way.
Even though nostalgia involves looking back at the past, it still needs to be blended with modern elements when using it in marketing. Take the Lion’s King again, for the remake, they kept the original storyline but redid all the animation, so it matches the technology of today. Adapting nostalgic elements to today's context keeps the brand relevant and removes aspects that might not have aged so well. Modern twists, like tweaking the designs, adding contemporary references, or innovative approaches, make sure that the brand or marketing campaign isn’t outdated or disconnected from the present.
3. Use the company history if possible.
For brands that have been established for a while, using its own past is gold. It can be about bringing back a mascot, an old aesthetic, or a product that was discontinued. Like when Coca-cola brought back their iconic glass bottle. Not only will these products boost sales in the name of nostalgia but they remind us of the brand's history, of how it has gained trust and evolved. It gives credibility to the brand.
4. Keep the bad things away.
The whole magic of nostalgia is that we long only for our romanticized version of the past. When wanting to tap into nostalgia in a marketing campaign or branding identity, the illusion must be preserved. In general, it is always the goal to rise positive emotions in the customer and avoid negative ones so the brand doesn’t become associated with them, but in the case of nostalgia, remembering the not so great bits would be like shattering a vase of glass. Nostalgia would not be felt.
“What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.” ― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Nostalgia, although it is a personal feeling, makes you feel like you are part of something bigger. It linked you to a period in time, a whole generation, an experience. It is a powerful emotion to tap into when it comes to branding and marketing has it brings fantasy, dreams, magic and optimism. Who doesn’t love to dream about the perfect era… It’s fully dark outside now and time to curl up by the fire, so see you soon, creators.
Grab our 90’s nostalgic downloadable print here
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