From Timely Trends to Timeless Icons: How Can a Brand Balance the Best of Both Worlds?

By Matt Sia, Creative Director at Pearlfisher 

The moment a brand is born, the carousel of staying “relevant” never stops turning. Brands must consistently express a point of view and curate experiences that live beyond a few moments of communication. They should make genuine connections with consumers beyond the functional aspects of their brand and live in an emotional space with their audiences. Brands must walk a fine line to strike the balance between being timeless and timely in their ethos, messaging, and creative expression. Every iconic, timeless brand was born from being timely–maintaining relevance with cultural shifts over time. So, how do you define a “timeless” brand? And how can a brand appropriately be “timely” in today’s provocative and ever-evolving culture?

Standing the Test of Time: Creating Timeless Brands

Timeless brands evoke genuine feelings. Whether those are feelings of joy, inspiration, imagination, etc., brands have the ability to capture moments in time and become memories that audiences never forget. According to a recent research study from Kantar and Affective, “digital ads that elicit strong emotions are four times more likely to generate impact than those with weaker emotional connections,” demonstrating that brands that pull on heartstrings and tell human stories, hit the mark.

Timeless brands are also disruptors in spaces where patterns need to be broken. In order to actively engage audiences on an emotional level, we have to identify the moments where brands can fill a space in our hearts and minds. This often provides consumers with a product or service we didn’t know we needed.

Finally, timeless brands have conversations with their audiences every day. You know a brand has really arrived when its name becomes synonymous with the product or service it provides. How do we connect meaning to the name of a product or service? It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a consumer journey made up of many touchpoints, with purposeful use of their brand name to tell a story. Google it. Venmo me. FedEx this package, please!

Tapping Into Cultural Moments

Having a point of view is essential in order to connect to cultural conversations as audiences become more informed. Being a timely brand means leaning into the unique qualities you’re known and trusted for to ensure your message is authentic to who you are.

A cultural event can happen in an instant and dominate news feeds for days, weeks, even months. Showing up to these moments in a meaningful way across different channels can really optimize your brand presence, strengthen your narrative, and boost your recognition. Consumers have expectations and, in marketing, it’s important to understand these nuanced, pivotal topics and conversations. It’s about identifying how your brands can lean in and continuously align your values and mission with your audience’s needs.

There are endless opportunities for brands to be timely, but the key is that they stay true to who they are and what they stand for in the process.

Striking a Balance: Becoming an Iconic Brand

A timeless brand that recognizes the appropriate moments to be timely in their marketing efforts get the best of both worlds. Finding the balance between becoming and remaining a household icon, while also remaining relevant, measures a brand’s success. In order to remain timeless, brands need to be open to change while staying true to who they are and what makes them unique. Only then will they be able to provide the best version of themselves for their audiences to appreciate. Brands that try too hard to connect with audiences in ways that are not genuine tend to receive backlash. You can’t please everyone, but if a brand remains honest, instinctive, and authentic, they’ll be able to attract their target audiences and perhaps appeal to new ones.

Every timeless brand was born from being timely. Sidestep the outdated industry rhetoric and tune into to what’s going on around you, rather than looking no further than the news that is curated for you. Embrace what’s happening and find meaning in it. It’ll keep your brand both timeless and timely.

About the Author

Matt Sia is the Creative Director at Pearlfisher – a leading branding and design agency with studios in New York City and London.