I have written previously about how my children have formed an association to their first brands thought it would be interesting for me to now think about my childhood brands and why I recall them fondly to this day.
Of course when I was a child marketing was not as prolific as it now, digital did not exist and there were only 3 channels on the TV which stopped at midnight. Remember when you actually sat as a family at a dinner table and discussed what had happened through the day or actually played with toys more than a single day!
It seems nothing lasts as long as it used to. As a child my parents would talk about having a washing machine for 15 years, a garden fork for 20 years, this no longer seems to the case. Can it be down to the influx of credit and being able to buy anything on HP or a Credit card? Or is it simply the fact products no longer last as long as they used to. Today you will be lucky if your smartphone lasts more than 12 months or your children’s toy can stand more than several hours of play. Interestingly I was listening to this topic being discussed on the radio the other day where a discussion was had around why modern products just do not last anymore. No one had the answer.
So back to the topic of childhood brands. I know if you ask my children to name a toy brand it would be hard for them to answer, part of this I suspect is the fact they are part of what is being labelled ‘The Throwaway Generation’. They are swapping their toys so much as none last that long, they don’t have time to build stories and emotional attachments to them.
What I mean by this is that great brands make great stories. This is how you remember the brand through the story you attach to it. Therefore how can children’s brands hope to own a place in the child’s heart and minds if they break after the first use? A case in point! My son got a great remote control car for his 7th birthday, it was a futuristic 4 x 4 vehicle, had these all terrain legs and basically no terrain could stop it, I even wanted a go. So all excited they go outside with their friends and within the first battery charge the wheel mounting had broken. So much for durability! Since then it’s sat in a cupboard uncharged and I know the brand will never hold a place of fondness in my children’s hearts.
Back to myself and brands that hold a fond memory in my heart. I will start off with a basic FMCG product called Lilt. Not everyone will remember this product. I think my mother was ahead of her time as she did not want a freezer and only wanted fresh fruit, vegetables and meat brought from the local village shops, nothing frozen or processed. Only Saturday and Sunday evening was when we got treats, for example a mars bar cut into 6 pieces (not a whole one each)
However when we went and visited my grandmother in Kent, on the dinner table there was always a bottle of Lilt, which yes we could drink! To this day I still can remember the taste of grapefruit and pineapple and the excitement in my eyes when it was being poured into my glass and the fizz of the bubbles. Ironically it was about tropical tastes like the Caribbean and I now live in Jamaica, perhaps that is why I smile.
But it’s not just the actual event of consuming the product that is creating the fondness of the brand but the association of being at my grandmothers. Walking on the beach and speaking into an overflow pipe to scare people in the bathroom all adds to the sense of the occasion and Lilt being a part of that experience. Yes we had drinks at home, but can I recall any of the brands, the simple answer is no!
But what about toy brands? Perhaps the one that holds most fondness in my heart is Tonka, it was rugged and built out of real steel. They were made to last and last they did. It was yellow and had a lifting tail box for the dirt, gravel whatever to roll down and out. No matter how old I got and how much I put that truck through, it absorbed it all. And the best part, it is now at my parents’ house and when we visit (which we must do more often) my children now play with that same truck! And yes it even lasts the habits of the modern throwaway generation! So not only do I have stories to tell about that truck but my children will have as well. Wonder how many modern toys we have my children will be able to say the same about?
Memories of this truck came back last week when I was in a toy shop with the boys and saw a modern Tonka truck, I saw myself playing in the back garden covered in mud without a care in the world. It was interesting to note on the box it said; “made with real steel” so still playing on the ruggedness. However I could not hide my disappointment in picking it up, it did not have the feel of my 20 year old truck and would doubt it would not last what I put mine through.
So brands and the stories we tell about them create the emotional attachment. Perhaps if more brands especially children’s brands were built to last to allow these memories to be formed, it would allow the modern generation to not be called 'The Throw Away generation’. After all, is it there fault products now just fall apart?
Now take a moment from you busy life, just sit back and think about a favourite childhood brand, bet a smile will form on your face. Is that not what building a brand is all about?
My name is Daymonde and I am a multiple award winning international marketer. After graduating in Applied Economics, I started my career In London working in Market Research. Graduating during the financial crash meant it was not the best degree to have but my passion was always marketing and advertising so I looked to move into that field.