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On my commute into Manchester each morning, I see an advert for a well-known pension plan provider. It reminds me, “I must look into my pension arrangements,” but doesn’t compel me to go to them. Why? Their top claim, of 200 years in business.

What do I care about what they were doing when people were still picking their scabs after the Battle of Waterloo? I want to know what a brand will do for me in my three score year and ten.

Brand heritage is important, but it’s not something that needs to go front and center of the brand story. Family businesses that are passed down through the generations are particularly guilty of this. Sure, it’s an achievement to pass on a thriving business to the next generation, but your great-grandfather’s life story is probably only of real interest to kith and kin.

I’ve got gym socks older than some of the biggest brands in the world today. Facebook, Google, Uber, AirBnB — 13, 19, 8, and 9 respectively. Yet in a short time they have become verbs in their own right and are becoming an intrinsic part of how we live.

Part of that is the nature of what they do. Facebook’s story is actually the personal story of everyone with an account. There are babies as yet unborn whose lives are already being shared in feeds in the form of excited ultrasound scan posts. That’s a particular example, but it is the start of an important point.

You don’t own your brand story!

Today, your target customer wants not just to hear from your brand, but to engage and interact with it. They want to feel they are part of what shapes the brand and they want their concerns to be acted upon or responded to.

Great brands know that they aren’t constrained by time. They are constantly evolving because they listen to the changing needs of their customers. At Brandigo, one of our specialisms is healthcare. There are central themes that will always be pertinent, like Safety and Trust, but as our recent research into Telemedicine has shown, the healthcare environment is changing.

Brands that will thrive in this sector in the coming decades will be those that accept they can no longer rest on the laurels of history. They will use heritage as another string to the bow, rather than the whole arsenal.

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