The Best Heritage Brands on Instagram and What You Can Learn From Them

With age comes wisdom.



Why do some heritage brands seem like everlasting innovators while others fall by the wayside? The breakneck speed of social media and the never-ending demands of the digital-native consumer might have something to do with it. Brands that took the rise of social media in their stride have managed to build loyal followings and hone their strategies, just as they’ve evolved their products over time.

We’ve handpicked a few of the world’s most established and revered brands to showcase. Each has truly harnessed the brand-building power of social media—and created beautiful feeds along the way.


FASHION


Hermès



ICYMI Hermès is the oldest fashion house in the world—founded in 1837. And you don’t need us to tell you how iconic this brand is (hello, they invented The Birkin Bag).


What makes them great?

They’re a design-driven brand, and their social presence stays true to their aesthetic. You can feel the ultra high quality through the screen. Hermès also takes a unique approach to their campaigns, often pushing the boundaries of what would be considered a typical lookbook shoot.



Takeaways

Be true. Be brave. Be creative with your ideas. And if you’re unsure what vibe you want to create for a new campaign, find out how some of your UGC or competitors' content will perform on your feed before you post it.


Alfred Dunhill



Alfred Dunhill inherited his father’s saddlery business in 1893 when he was just 21. Aside from their coveted ready-to-wear menswear, Dunhill also has an impressive catalogue of inventions, like their Unique lighter which is the first ever to be operated with one hand (and was beloved by James Bond). Anyway, we digress. Let’s get into why we chose them for this edit.


What makes them great?

They use Instagram Stories really well. Visit their highlights reel and you’ll see BTS snippets of music production for their SS19 runway show, time-lapses of catwalks being built, and a perfect example of how to make UGC feel on brand.


instagram stories example

Takeaways

There’s a happy place between beautifully-polished photos and hyper-engaging on-the-fly video—it’s called Stories. The ephemeral nature of Stories means you can be more real and bring your audience into your brand’s world, while at the same time maintain a highly-curated shop-window aesthetic on your grid.


Valentino



Hailing from Rome, Garavani Valentino is responsible for creating many of the most glamorous looks the world has ever seen.


What makes them great?

One scroll down Valentino’s feed and you’re swept up in a silky embrace of high fashion, romance, and red—the imagery speaks for itself. They also post the odd poetry story which is just lovely.



Takeaways

Don’t feel like you have to conform to the millennial-pink-kneeling-in-Caribbean-sand aesthetic to drive engagement on Instagram. Making your photos “feel” like your product will likely foster a deeper connection with your audience.


Church's



English shoemakers since 1873, Church’s crafts what’s arguably the smartest shoes on the planet. A brand that’s steeped in tradition has also positioned itself as very forward-thinking.


What makes them great?

They’ve taken a smart shoe and created a lifestyle. The organic style of their summer campaign showcases the product in an unexpected way.



Takeaways

Think about your social audience when you’re planning campaigns. Location, models, composition, and what works on a billboard might not translate well to Stories. Having a range of shots for each channel could pay off in the long run.


COSMETICS


Kiehl’s



Kiehl’s opened their first apothecary in New York City in 1851, which sounds like the epitome of, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”.


What makes them great?

Their feed oozes credibility. They champion their people, whether it’s through video tutorials, IRL treatment shots taken in-store, or super-long captions written by their skincare experts.



Takeaways

If you have smart people in your business that are in contact with your customers every day, make the most of them. They’re your voice on the ground, and can add that much-needed human aspect to a product-led brand.


La Mer



Crème de la Mer—the cream of the sea. This brand has an incredible story. Dr. Max Huber was a scientist who found himself with severe burns after an experiment gone wrong. He was fascinated by the sea and hoped the ocean could provide the cure for his burns. He was right. And today La Mer is counted among Estée Lauder’s most successful skincare brands.


What makes them great?

A color palette to die for. Pinks, greens, and blues like you’ve never seen them before highlighted by sunlight. They also manage a wonderful balance of polished product shots with the odd influencer regram.



Takeaways

Be color confident. Who cares if your product packaging incorporates only three colours? Find your social hue, and brighten your feed and your followers’ day.


Penhaligon's



The founder of this eccentric fragrance brand arrived in London in the 1860s and created a scent and aesthetic that was fresh and quintessentially British. Fast-forward to today and Penhaligon’s feed is an eye-popping medley of avant-garde product shots, neon-lit storefronts, and classic illustrations.


What makes them great?

We’ll say it again—the eccentricity. Their look is unexpected yet classic. Somehow they have brought this classic product well and truly into the 21st century with an approach to Instagram that captures the richness one can expect from their fragrances.



Takeaways

Remember that the essence of your brand is as important as likes and comments, and capitalize on features that are unique to your product or service.


So there you have it. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number after all. As long as you know how to not get left behind.


Header image: @maisonvalentino


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old brands on instagram