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How 3 Classic Brands Stay Relevant

by Chris Dalton | 01.20.14

Certain brands seem impervious to the typical ebb and flow of being in vogue. How do they stay fashionable while others fall by the wayside? Here, we’ll examine several timeless companies that have managed to stay relevant for over 100 years and have rooted themselves firmly into American traditions, as well as the techniques they’ve used to position themselves as industry leaders.

Ball® brand Canning Supplies

The Ball brand mason jar is synonymous with home canning goods in the U.S. Since 1880, the Ball brand has been associated with canning jars and canning accessories for preserving foods at home. It was revolutionary at the time, before refrigeration was widespread – so with modern conveniences, how have they managed to interest younger generations in canning?

Their reach on social media is widespread – take a look at Facebook or Pinterest and it’s clear they have overwhelming popularity for craft projects, vases, and lanterns – much more beyond traditional uses in the kitchen. Jarden Home Brands, who now makes Ball brand canning products, has also tapped into the renewed interest in homesteading and artisinally produced foods by providing resources on creating your own homemade jams, jellies, and fermented foods.

One key to Jarden Home Brand's success with the Ball brand is certainly their involvement in social media conversations and online resources – the company often promotes recipes and offers how-to videos and seminars on canning for the newly initiated. To keep up with the 21st century, they also offer an automatic Jam & Jelly maker (launched on Brandlive), for those are otherwise intimated by the process or simply don’t have the time.


(Check out the event on Brandlive for the FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker - http://ball.yourbrandlive.com/c/canning101makingjam).

The Ball logo chart shows one method to maintaining relevancy - while the product remains essentially unchanged, the logo is constantly revisited and refined through the decades.

Faribault Woolen Mills

Faribault has a different story than the other two brands featured here, but their techniques have resulted in the same eventual success. Faribault Woolen Mills, from Faribault, Wisconsin, has been making blankets, scarves and other woolen goods since 1865. During the 20th century, they were one of the most prominent mills in the country, manufacturing over half of all wool blankets in the U.S.

Their business slowly tapered off as American manufacturing began moving overseas, and the mill closed in 2009. In 2011, it was purchased and revamped, and has become a celebrated source of domestically made wool products.

                                                                   

It’s clear that Faribault’s attention to an updated aesthetic is one of the keys to their recent revival. Their website features content relevant to their product, and detailed stories of their heritage to create a connection between product and history. When you buy a product from the mill, you know you are buying into a shared cultural heritage.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean released their first Bean Boots in 1912 – and 102 years later, remain fashion icons. Like Ball, L.L. Bean has a massive following on Pinterest – nearly 5.5 million people follow the company for style inspiration. Interestingly, the design of the Hunting Shoes has barely changed in the last century – what sets L.L. Bean apart from the competition?


L.L. Bean puts a strong importance on transparency in manufacturing and showing their heritage – they proudly put “Made in Maine” on a number of their products. They also have plethora interviews, walkthroughs, and factory tours showing their manufacturing process at their facilities in Maine. This wealth of content builds brand authenticity and creates a continued narrative with each of their flagship products. When you buy a pair of boots, or a tote bag, or peacoat from L.L. Bean, you buy into a shared American tradition that shows no sign of slowing.

Their strong commit to heritage – and relentless emphasis on customer service – is definitely a major factor in their continued success.



While each brand has it’s own stories, they share similar marketing strategies in staying relevant to consumers despite evolving trends. All place high value in:

  • transparent manufacturing processes

  • an aesthetic that resonates with younger consumers

  • emphasis on their long heritage in American traditions




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