Heritage Storytelling: Why Rich Histories Are Important to Brands

03 Jul 2013
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Michael Wintrob

Last week, we established brand storytelling as more than simply telling a single story. In fact, many of the most compelling (and commercially successful) brands are that way because they routinely serve up different stories at different times for different reasons.

Any brand with a rich and meaningful origin story should utilize heritage stories as a means of detailing how the brand and its concept came to be. Brands big and small—such as Nike, Papa John’s, Benefit Cosmetics and Coca-Cola—tell these stories internally and externally, allowing associates and consumers alike to bond with the brand at creation—when the ideas were pure, the pursuit fresh and the passion real.

Keeping the heritage story relevant to the modern expression of the brand can be a challenge, since new generations of consumers don’t inherently know—or know why they should care—about the events that shook the earth when the brand was created. Tiffany & Co., just last November, launched a new Tumblr site, From Out of the Blue. They’re using the visually driven, millennial-embraced social blogging platform to tell Tiffany’s storied history of craftsmanship, innovation and design. The effort is strengthening the brand’s marketing communication to younger generations.

On the side of its iconic white-label bottle, our client Jim Beam connects consumers to the brand’s 200-year legacy with the story of the seven generations of Beam family members who have contributed to making it “the world’s #1 Kentucky bourbon.” Recently, Beam Global released a video from 7th generation Master Distiller Fred Noe, visually detailing the rich heritage.

Seeing the faces of the men who have protected the brand’s bourbon-making secrets takes an elusive concept and makes it tangible. Thoughtfully, Beam continues to mine its heritage even as it innovates.


Its latest new product launch, Jacob’s Ghost, was inspired by the whiskey recipe of founder Jacob Beam—a story from the past the brand proudly celebrates via its choice in naming, packaging and beyond.

Next week, I’ll dive into folklore storytelling.

Share your story with Michael. You can find him on Twitter at @mwintrob or email him at michael_wintrob@lpk.com.