The Longevity of Strong Brands

I’ll celebrate my 70th birthday in about a month. Some say I’m probably getting old. But like many a brand, I’ll keep re-inventing myself (at least that’s the plan ;-)).

But the real subject of this entry is about brand longevity. They can live on well past the end of their life cycles. They can be remembered just as a long-deceased uncle might be remembered.


I fondly remember brands from my childhood. Those old brands still live in my mind even though several haven’t been advertised for fifty years or more.

There was a hair tonic named Wild Root Cream Oil. They had a jingle, “You’d better get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie. It keeps your hair in trim.”, an association with Al Capp’s cartoon character, Fearless Fosdick, and the one most significant to me, sponsorship of the Woody Herman radio show. I can say that listening to that show in the mid-late 1940’s inspired my love of jazz which has never dimmed in the years since first hearing Woody’s “Apple Honey”.

The point is, associating with icons and images, personalities and events that are pleasurable help build strong brands. It’s not just about a name and a logo. It’s about consistent, relevant, frequent and targeted tactics that help create the aura of the product. Once those tactics penetrate to the subconscious, it’s just about impossible to dislodge them.

P.S.: My mother was the arbiter of my personal hygiene preparations then, so I used Vaseline Hair Tonic even though my heart cried for Wildroot. I’ve forgiven her.

Martin Jelsema

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