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BW Businessworld

Looking Back To Move Ahead

For people with confidence, nostalgia can be a great driver. Nostalgia can also power brands

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


We store our memories like assets in the vaults of our hearts and minds. These memories become currency while sharing with others. They buy bonding, kinship, goodwill in most cases. People today utilise the online medium to come closer to friends, family, colleagues and batchmates — even rediscover them — through sharing and reliving of the past.

But there is an interesting phenomenon one observes within these online communities: The getting together of  non-friends from the past. The e-befriending of  schoolmates that you’ve hardly ever spoken to through 12 years of schooling suddenly becoming regular chat-buddies! An ex-colleague who used to be in the ‘other camp’ being civil, even sweet. How does this ‘Sleeping with the enemy’ come about?

Is it that ‘Time is the best healer’, prompting you to ‘forgive and forget’? In my view, the passage of  time marinates experience and wisdom — one tends not to

‘Look back with anger’. No matter how excruciating the experience was at the time, the sting tends to soften as recollections blur, and the membrane of memory takes on a rose-tinted hue. Also, in the social media milieu, people naturally present their magnanimous side, willingly burying differences of  the past.  

Our present may seem an eternal struggle, but most of us view the future with hope and expectation. Equally we look at our past with a sense of ownership, if not pride. It’s what makes us who we are.

And being intrinsically social animals, we carry with us a diverse array of experiences and people we have shared them with. Even if we’ve hated a situation we’ve been through, we make the experience a part of us, and all players — good, bad and the ugly — a necessary component.
Such recollections, and the ownership of them, make nostalgia a generically powerful emotion among people comfortable with their past. For people with confidence, nostalgia can be a great driver. Nostalgia can also power brands.

Brand guru Sumit Roy provides a fitting example. If only Kodak had seen themselves to be beyond the business of film but being in the business of memories, they could have addressed their marketing problem differently.

Kodak could have worried less about the sales of  their film and cameras, and innovated to address what people really needed: to preserve those ‘moments’ over time.

Many others came in to meet that need. Facebook was one. Photographs, stories, updates, messages, advice… all swirled around in the worldwide web to create a new connected experience that burgeoned by the day.

Despite the regulatory shadow cast upon the future of  Maggi Noodles, consumers were ready to forgive the iconic brand, thanks to its longstanding equity and associations.

It was relaunched with all the trappings of nostalgic value. Comebacks are like many happy returns… truly celebratory!

If  you think nostalgia befits only longstanding brands like Horlicks, Bajaj, Lux and Vicks, look at recent entrant Paperboat that has based its entire brand offering on happy memories.

I leave you with this philosophical thought: Be prepared to welcome your challenging present experience into the warm showcase of the past.

That itself could sugarcoat the bitter pill, and be your driver to a successful future!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Indranil Gupta

The author is Founder Director & Chief Executive Officer of BrandNEW Associates Private Limited

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