We know brands are keen to tap into people’s desire for truly authentic products, but so often the ‘histories’ behind them feel false. We’ve seen a number of brands emerging that not only tell a great story, but manage to fully embody the heritage they claim.
Private White VC is a clothing brand inspired by the story of Private Jack White, the military hero who founded the factory now used by his great grandchildren. The website tells us how Private White was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917 and show us crumpled images, including his invitation to Buckingham Palace. These details provide us with evidence of who he was and offer us a genuine emotional connection to the brand.
The website for Swedish brand, Stutterheim recalls the story of his beloved grandfather, a wise old fisherman whose oversized jacket he discovered in an abandoned barn. The Jacket was so imbued with memories that he was inspired to recreate it, and a brand was born. Everything about the brand pays homage to this great man – even the colour of the latest raincoat is a tribute to his British racing green Jaguar. It is difficult to not feel warmed by the story, and the memories of loved ones.
These brands have a number of things in common. They are both small businesses, run by the family members of their namesakes. They both have very specific stories about a very real person to whom the brand owes its existence. They don’t just tell a story of a hardworking man who built up a business, they have instead gained their inspiration from a family member who was long gone by the time the brand was created.
This feels very refreshing compared to mainstream attempts at authenticity and heritage. Take Jack Daniels, a lovable rogue from Tennessee who we genuinely know very little about. We’re told of how old No 7 was likely named after his seven girlfriends, and that he died after sustaining an injury kicking his safe. There’s also Mr Kipling and his ‘exceedingly good cakes’. The brand plays on the mystery of the faceless Mr Kipling and his top secret recipes. If there ever was a ‘real’ person behind these massive corporations they’ve long been forgotten. The brands instead cling to the humour that the stories evoke rather than achieving true authenticity. But, if the truth behind the story is missing, their claims of authenticity quickly feel disingenuous.
Private White and Stutterheim maintain a level of honesty through their small, humble beginnings. They rely on these traits to remain authentic, admirable and, ultimately, desirable. The simplicity of the brands is also key – the stories they tell are clean and therefore entirely believable. As brands like this evolve, the challenge will be to break free from their niche beginnings and achieve greater popularity whilst still maintaining their authentic upper hand.