Looking Back, Moving Forward
Just take a quick survey of your Netflix account, recent films you’ve seen, or the games on your phone, and you’ll see there’s been a surge of nostalgia making its way into the cultural consciousness.
And while nostalgia has been successfully used in marketing campaigns for years — brands use the technique to stir positive emotions that impact our purchase behaviors — the recent increase is undeniable.
According to the Kellogg School of Management’s Gregory Carpenter, “People become especially nostalgic when they are anxious about the present and, especially, the future.”
Given the rapid changes caused by technological advancements, along with the current sociopolitical volatility, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling a little nostalgic.
Consider the approaches below to capitalize on the power of our collective fond memories.
Increase Social Connection
Part of the value of nostalgia is that it enhances our sense of social connection — a key component of emotional well-being.
In this hyper-connected time, it’s easy to mistake digital connection for true social connections. But true connections require shared real-world experiences.
What to do: Leverage nostalgia to compel audiences to connect both in-person and online.
In March, GOXD created an event to celebrate the re-launch of Powerpuff Girls. The celebration built momentum for the show’s premiere by triggering memories of attendees’ favorite Powerpuff Girls from the show’s original run and creating a community in which to share those memories.
Compel a Future Focus
As John Tierney wrote in the New York Times, “When people speak wistfully of the past, they typically become more optimistic and inspired about the future.” Nostalgia helps us to move forward, both personally and professionally.
What to do: Remind audiences where your brand has been, and use this history to inspire excitement about the future.
In the ongoing Brand Immersion Experience that GOXD designed for Mercedes-Benz, dealership employees from across the country take an interactive journey through the history of the brand. And the rich stories that make up the Mercedes-Benz legacy are measurably inspiring employees’ passion for the present and future of the brand.
Create Future Nostalgia
As explained in the New York Times article above, one way to increase nostalgia is to create more memorable moments. Dr. Constantine Sedikides, a psychology professor at the University of Southampton, refers to this as “anticipatory nostalgia.”
What to do: Encourage anticipatory nostalgia by providing audiences with memorable experiences tied to your brand.
At E3 in 2015, GOXD and Nintendo delivered placed 16 contestants in the center of a fierce competition at the revival of the Nintendo World Championship. It was an experience sure to have fans looking back fondly in the future.
And if one thing is clear, it’s this: Looking back is a sound strategy for moving your brand forward.