Elements of A Legacy Brand’s Success

By Kaylin R. Staten

Brands are constantly aspiring for growth, whether it’s sales, consumer outreach, click-through rates or all of the above and more.

With companies like Toys R’ Us, Payless and Sears closing stores and/or ceasing operations, plenty of brands are struggling and fizzling out during these trying Internet-fueled times. However, plenty of legacy brands are still very much alive and kicking. A legacy brand is usually defined as a long-term brand 25 years and older, usually with historical narratives, well-known products and visible signs of success.

When legacy brands soak up success, it’s because they know their brand inside and out, and they know what their customers desire and need. They exhibit consistency, niche targeting, clear Calls to Action (CTA) and value-based storytelling.

Legacy brands can stay ahead of the curve in the following three ways:


If something is challenging to obtain or get into, then the exclusivity will drive interest, media impressions and sales. Consumers want to be in the “in crowd.” When a company says that spots are limited in an exclusive club or there are only 1,000 handcrafted items available, that will draw in your target audiences.

Louis Vuitton’s monogram canvas has been a worldwide staple for more than a century, and to this day, it’s still a coveted brand. The company uses its stature as a Forbes Top 100 brand to continue to influence the fashion world, other legacy brands and high-end consumers.

Louis Vuitton never has sales on products. What you see is what you will pay at a Louis Vuitton retailer or online (unless you purchase one from a third party; then, you will take a chance on its authenticity). This helps to garner exclusivity, superiority and elegance. The brand has built its reputation while also growing with the times. For example, the fashion house uses relevant celebrity endorsements and releases timely and fashionable additions to its lines, among other marketing strategies. This adds to its exclusivity.


A legacy brand could have started as a one-stop shop to a specific target audience, but as that target audience ages, the brand will as well -- until it could phase out altogether. As the digital age continues to evolve and Generation Xers and Generation Alpha’ers come of decision-making buyer age, legacy brands should evolve with the times. Those legacy brands that have crossed the digital plateau have cultivated a multitude of touch points, from a single sponsored Instagram post to physical pop-up shops.

Each step requires a distinct story. This includes creating and implementing a converged communications plan versus segues into silos (marketing, public relations, social media, etc.). More and more consumers crave an experience when it comes to interacting with brands, from videos to a quick, painless online purchase process.

Nintendo humbly began as a playing card company in the late 1800s. By the 1980s and 1990s, the company paved the way for video games. Now, Nintendo makes billions of dollars annually with its Nintendo Switch consoles and other sales. The company arose to the challenges of the digital era, and now, legacy characters like Mario and Link are back on top with console games, Amiibo figure add-ons, Nintendo Online and more. The company is also capitalizing on the current retro trend, as are countless other legacy brands.


My blend of traits equaling 100 percent. #iamDKNY

My blend of traits equaling 100 percent. #iamDKNY

Gone are the days in which a picture perfect mirage sells your product or service. Startups, influencers and younger brands have embraced a more “behind-the-scenes” approach to their companies, from #iwokeuplikethis social posts to the details behind creating that beautiful handbag everyone is coveting.

Legacy brands can also showcase their authentic side as well. We’ve seen this with Wendy’s Twitter roasts and the whole IHOP-to-IHOB publicity stunt. Not only does it get people talking on a grand scale, but it also gives brands a distinct personality. During its Fall 2018 campaign, retailer DKNY allowed customers to create their own “I Am DKNY” T-shirts and totes emblazoned with five percentages adding to 100 percent. Previously, only models and celebrities in Vogue ads and Instagram posts were privy to items from this campaign. In December 2018, a digital pop-up website allowed customers to create their own percentages and traits to show their own “I Am DKNY” personality. This campaign allowed people across the world to become part of the exclusive DKNY “club” and add their narrative to a growing brand story.

The bottom line is: people love stories. Legacy brands still have stories to tell, if they’re willing to adapt to ever-changing times and formats.

Here are some of our favorite legacy brands (in no particular order):

  1. Louis Vuitton

  2. Coca-Cola

  3. Lacoste

  4. Kate Spade

  5. Tiffany and Co.

  6. Toyota

  7. Nintendo

  8. Adobe

  9. Star Wars

  10. Michael Kors


Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.