What Is Nostalgia Brand Marketing? And How to Get Started

What Is Nostalgia Brand Marketing? And How to Get Started: In a world where everything seems to be evolving at mind-blowing speed, nostalgia proves to be a very powerful emotion.

Nostalgia is a passion for the past mixed with a feeling of sadness. This triggers a desire for the ‘good old days’.

Like comfort food, nostalgia transports us back to simpler, happier times, and gives us the feeling of comfort and stability – things we all long for in times of uncertainty.

According to research, the emotion of nostalgia has been found to counteract boredom, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and even make people more tolerant to outsiders, and more generous to strangers.

This is mainly because nostalgia tends to trigger feelings of safety and a sense of warmth, especially when people remember that their life has roots and continuity.

When we consider brand marketing, customer psychology can never be excluded from the picture. This is because psychology is what allows your potential customers to connect with your products.

Customers tend to be defensive and as much as they can, resist buying products from brands that speak absolutely nothing to their emotions.

Brands like these send signals that they just want to shove something down our throat, and not genuinely interested in the customers’ pain points.

Your customers and potential customers are people. Regardless of how useful your product is, they like to know that they are buying products from people too.

Research has shown that when companies connect with their customers’ psychology, the payoff is always huge.

Regardless of age, nostalgia has been found to have a very heavy effect on all customer groups.

Nostalgia brand marketing can therefore be seen as a psychological phenomenon, rather than just a strategy for selling.

Nostalgia brand marketing creates a powerful emotional connection with customer groups. This is what makes it a powerful marketing strategy.

What is Nostalgia Brand Marketing?

Due to the massive psychological effect nostalgia marketing has on customers, brands can leverage this to inspire customers to open their wallets for the immediate return of cherished memories.

This gives brands the chance to connect with their customers on a deeper level, utilizing the power of sentimentality.

Nostalgia marketing allows us to focus on those marketing strategies that we already know are great, as nostalgia marketing focuses on the things of the past.

As our experiences of the past are what help to form our personalities, and consequently, our identities in the present, nostalgia marketing tends to never get old. It offers something for everyone.

While nostalgia marketing has a very broad definition, with each one strongly depending on the consumer, the easiest way to explain the concept is to consider it as a way of aligning advertising campaigns with things that provoke emotional responses from the past.

Nostalgia marketing is like a satellite in the orbit of emotional marketing, tapping into the emotions of customers and potential customers through memories.

As already established, emotional marketing has the power to convince customers to act, and advocate on the behalf of their favourite brands.

This is because emotional marketing makes brands “relatable” to their target audiences. When consumers can see themselves in a brand, it tends to create an almost unbreakable bond.

That sense of “kindred spirits” intrinsically ties the brand and consumer together. The good news is that any brand, both old and new can reach consumers by taking them to the past.

How to Get Started with Nostalgia Brand Marketing

Your brand doesn’t have to be decades old before you can utilize the nostalgia marketing tool. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, nostalgia in advertising can allow both new and old brands to connect with their audience on a powerful emotional level.

For new brands, nostalgia marketing can be brought into play by introducing concepts into your advertising that give your customers and potential customers those ‘good old days’ feelings.

These concepts should be significantly known for developing happy connotations and fond memories in your customers which when used rightly should build trust in your brands by evoking feelings of security, comfort, and engagement in your audience.

These nostalgic strategies, however, have to align with your brand values and personality for it to “feel” right.

This would involve some careful planning and attention to detail, else you’ll simply convince your audience that you’re willing to adopt any strategy in an attempt to get them to buy from you – regardless of whether it fits or not.

It therefore helps to keep your audience and their personality in mind before introducing nostalgia marketing in your marketing campaign. Let’s explore how some of the most sophisticated brands make use of nostalgia marketing:

Top Brands That Make Use of Nostalgia Marketing
1. Apple

For decades, Apple has enjoyed its status as one of the world’s preeminent brands. It might as well be regarded as the world’s favourite technology company. Part of this success, however, has to be attributed to its incredible innovative marketing plans.

In 2016, apple upgraded its advertisements with a new interest in the feel-good, heart-warming memories upon its release of the iPhone 6.

This was when they started tapping into nostalgia marketing. They did this by creating an ad starring Cookie Monster using Siri to bake his treasured cookies. This portrayed a more fun and accessible side to their brand.

This nostalgia marketing campaign combined apple’s innovative technology with a blast from the past to remind their customers that they’re still capable of cutting loose and being flexible, even though their main focus remains to be on innovating new technology.

As a result, Apple has successfully built a strong brand reputation for itself.

2. Spotify

Music is a very soul connecting tool. It is therefore not strange to find that it has a fantastic way of connecting people to the past.

We often find people connecting specific times in their lives to a particular smell or place and most importantly, to music.

Research has shown that every day on Spotify, people keep pressing play to “Turn Back Time”. Playlists like #ThrowbackThursday and the personalized experience “Your Time Capsule” hit it big with users, earning over 1.6M followers and over half a billion streams respectively.

Spotify significantly used the nostalgia marketing strategy in 2016 when they delivered a new spokesperson to the marketplace in the form of Falkor and Atreyu from the hit movie “The NeverEnding Story”.

The company behind the advertising went the length and got the original actors for both characters to reprise their roles. This made the nostalgia marketing campaign even more impressive.

3. Nintendo

It seemed like an odd decision when Nintendo decided to re-release mini-versions of its vintage gaming systems, including the 1980s and 1990s classics of their NES, complete with 30 games in 2016.

This seemingly odd decision had however caused the company’s profitability to skyrocket. When Nintendo was originally released in 1983, a large proportion of the users were children and young adults.

And because of the earlier decline in the home gaming market, many had never owned video games before. As a result, the products had a huge impact on young players.

The release of the mini-versions of the NES was found to soothe the nostalgic urges of those who miss games of the past. It caused a reminder to customers of the reasons that they fell in love with Nintendo right at the beginning of their journey into gaming.

4. Motorola Razr

Before smartphones, one of Motorola’s most popular cellphones was a tiny, flat flip phone called the Razr.

Research showed that the number-based keyboard and small screen were part of the reason people loved it all the more. The design and simplicity were considered heart-warming.

In 2019 however, Motorola gained more attention when it re-introduced a new and improved Razr which featured a folding touchscreen when opened.

The commercial announcement brought the old-school Razr back into the picture. The ad showed the old-school Razr lifting off of a table and flying through the air as its old layers peel off to reveal a new design. The phone then opens to reveal the Android-like touch screen.

5. Microsoft

In 2013, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer earned viral recognition and a Webby Award nomination. This was brought about by a nostalgia driven ad that would reintroduce Internet Explorer to ’90s kids.

Focusing that story on ’90s nostalgia, which we knew was popular with Gen Y and not yet fully realized in video form, is what made the ad shareworthy.

6. Adobe

The beloved ’80s painting guru, Bob Ross, who passed away in 1995, experienced a huge unexpected resurgence in popularity in 2016.

This happened after Netflix added his classic TV show, “The Joy of Painting”, to its lineup. People began to relive those happy and fond memories they experienced before Bob Ross passed. He became a source of appreciation and soon became a trending topic on Instagram.

Adobe, a technology brand, took notice of this trend and decided to bring back this late painter in a series of tutorial videos promoting their new Adobe Photoshop Sketch for the iPad Pro.

This had an immense emotional impact on their customers and consequently resulted in a high number of downloads. Authenticity was central to this nostalgic campaign, with immense attention to detail.

7. Adidas

In 1973, a term known as “The Battle of the Sexes” was coined when Billie Jean King won a tennis match against male player, Bobby Riggs.

This was the first time a female tennis player was matched against a male who won. It is no wonder why an achievement like this made history.

During this match, King wore an iconic pair of blue Adidas tennis shoes. Years later, Adidas launched a limited edition line of BJK shoes with the female tennis legend’s face and initials on each pair.

This was done to celebrate the 45th anniversary of King’s win. To announce the shoe line, Adidas launched a series of simple commercials showing Billie Jean King spray-painting piles of shoes blue.

A 20%  boost in tennis shoe sales shows was recorded when this advertising was incorporated. This goes on to show the  massive effect of nostalgia marketing.


Nostalgia brand marketing has a great emotional impact on customers and potential customers. It is capable of causing the most unyielding potential customer to purchase your products.

Before incorporating this into your marketing campaigns, however, it helps to ensure that you have a detailed study of your customers and that the concept you decide to settle for is in line with your brand values and personality.

This would allow a seamless marketing campaign and ensure the reason for which it was initiated is actualized.

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