Brand Extension
Positioning a Heritage Brand for Tomorrow’s Consumers

By definition, Heritage brands are icons of consumer goodwill that have stood the test of time.  Their longevity is a testament to their core mission’s relevance and their fulfillment of consumers’ expectations relative to the reliability of their products and services.  These companies are pinnacle examples of how to build consumer trust, loyalty and support.  In theory, a heritage brand should have a competitive advantage.  They’ve carved out their positioning in the market, they have a core loyal customer base, and their brand evokes an authenticity that a modern company cannot easily manufacture.  It is undeniable… heritage matters.

At the same time, a brand is not built on just how old it is.  A brand substantiates success by remaining relevant in the eyes of consumers.  In a world where contemporary brands are a dime a dozen and start-ups are disrupting industries with fresh and appealing products, services and designs— some of which we’ve never seen before— it is more crucial than ever that heritage brands innovate and transform to grow and preserve their reputation. The danger that many heritage brands face is becoming so caught up in tradition that change is viewed as a threat.  This mentality perpetuates stagnation and slowly dilutes a brand’s strength and relevance in the market as consumer preferences change and market conditions shift.  There are ways brands can evolve their business without losing sight of what consumers most treasure about the brand, and to survive in this competitive landscape older brands must find new and inventive ways to refresh their brand and increase impressions with new and current customers.

One way heritage brands can engage consumers in new avenues, that reinforce the value of their brand is through the use of strategic brand licensing. Heritage brands typically have rich stories and history supporting their strong brand identity. This foundational background is an important value driver for consumers, especially when these brands are re-interpreted in a contemporary light.  Extending into categories that complement the core equity of the brand and taking brands into new territories help build positive brand awareness and affinity. It also reinforces brand positioning and strengthens the loyalty of targeted consumers by generating multiple touch points, allowing for an expanded and more meaningful experience with the brand.


A great example of a heritage brand’s successful execution of licensing to achieve this objective is Roto-Rooter®. As the largest provider of emergency plumbing services in the United States, Roto-Rooter needed to boost awareness for its emergency-based service and create new cost-effective touchpoints with consumers. LMCA engineered a strategic 360 degree brand licensing program that, among other things, brought Roto-Rooter into a full line of liquid drain cleaning products. The liquid drain cleaner helped consumers unclog early-stage problems, and the bottle had the toll-free number for the consumer to get in touch with a Roto-Rooter serviceman, if the problem persisted. 

This new product provided a clear solution to one of
Roto-Rooter’s core dilemmas: making its first interaction with the consumer earlier and increasing consumer impressions by having products
(and as such, the brand’s advertisement and “800” number) on retailers’ shelves.  The brand could no
longer afford to rely on costly, inefficient advertising to drive business, so this was an incredibly creative way to increase brand awareness and extend its brand into
new distribution channels. That gave this heritage brand new and valuable exposure with consumers and, as a result, their core business grew significantly.

There are plenty of ways heritage brands can innovate
to stay relevant and increase impressions with consumers.  We see more and more brands investing in innovation labs or tapping into outside innovation resources to develop a pipeline of products they can create, test and bring to market.  Likewise, companies are performing internal audits to actively filter out ideas and products that are no longer effective or profitable in today’s climate.  Strategic brand licensing is another tool brands can use to start exploring new territory and pave the way for new growth.

In order to evolve and grow, heritage brands must look to shed some older traditions for the sake of growing their core business. While some heritage brands have tremendous potential in today’s marketplace, it takes more than just a recognizable name to ensure market success.  It takes evaluation, research and an innovative strategy to lay the foundation for a 100-year-old brand to become a 200-year-old brand. Sometimes that means thinking outside-of-the-box.  If you do this well, the history and authenticity of your heritage brand won’t change, but your consumer base, brand equity and bottom line most certainly will.


LMCA is a market founder and leader in making connections between growth companies and strong brands for licensing. We represent over $6.5B in annual licensed product sales. Let’s continue the conversation.  Learn more about how brand extension licensing can expand your reach, your customer base and your bottom line.  Contact Us Here


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