It’s all about the feel good. What can modern marketers learn from the 1950’s?

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Art, Design, Uncategorized

PUMPJOCKWhat is it about retro advertising and packaging that I love so much?

Even before I made my first animated film in college in that quintessential retro UPA graphic style, I have been fascinated with the 1950’s. It’s the innocence, the simplicity of life and the birth of television that made that decade so magical for me.

There is also something to be said for the playful warmth that pervades much of that eras pop culture. It’s magazine pages, advertising and consumer packaging evoke a simpler, less cynical time (even if it is a matter of one’s own perceptions).

The 1950’s was a time when many classic brands made their mark on or collective conscience.

In an effort to build classic endearing brands, ad men with the help of talented illustrators created cute and memorable mascots, (many of these retain versions of these same mascots to this day). We still have the Green Giant and Mr. Clean. Kellogg’s Cereal gave us Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam. Alka-Seltzer had Speedy, (the boy wonder with the tablet shaped hat), and who could forget the Kool-Aid man? Now there is a guy who knows how to make an entrance!

There is no denying that whenever I see advertising or packaging inspired by this period, I’m almost always swept away to some happy place. Even with all my years of experience, I’m still drawn to them and instinctively reach for these brands on store shelves. Judging by the popularity of “retro”, I have to conclude that I’m not the only one who shares this fondness. This affection is by no means coincidental.

Compelling consumers to feel warm and fuzzy about their brand was one of the primary goals of 1950’s marketers.

Fast forward to today’s marketing challenges. In our fast paced internet world it’s easy for us to get caught up in being hip and trendy. The lower budgets and the speed at which we must produce can also result in the sourcing of cookie cutter solutions. The result is that too much of what we design today is indistinguishable and forgettable. In my opinion, we certainly aren’t being effective at creating classic brands that are not only endearing to the modern consumer, but can also stand the test of time.

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that re-creating 1950’s style is the only way to achieve success, I’m simply saying that in my opinion striving to create classic timeless brands that speak to us on an emotional level should always be the main objective of marketers. In my experience it’s always been a strong starting point.

When I’m asked to help create a new identity, I try remember that brand loyalty is often based on the feel good factor. With that in mind, I always approach the assignment being mindful of these three principles:

  1. Forget the convoluted narrative. A lot of logos and even packaging fail because they try too hard to relay a complex story. In many cases the best approach is to be simple and direct.
  2. Resist trends and think long term. I want this brand/identity to be relevant not only now but 10 years into the future as well.

And most of all…..

  1. Inject warmth. Consumers get invested in brands that make them feel good.