10 Old Brands That Manage to Stay Modern

Samuel Augustus Maverick

Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-70) was a wealthy land speculator in southwest Texas who cared little about cattle. When someone repaid a debt with 400 head of cattle rather than cash, Maverick’s caretakers allowed them to wander unbranded. Over time, locals who saw unbranded cattle would say, “Those are Maverick’s”  –  and a term was born that today refers to politicians, entrepreneurs, and innovators who refuse to run with the herd.

The need for branding cattle obviously differs substantially from the need to brand a product or service. However, both initiatives involve increasing and enhancing visibility as well as legal ownership.

I am grateful to Roxanne McAnn for calling my attention to a series of articles featured by the BusinessInsuranceQuotes website.

This is one of several well-worth checking out. What follows is an excerpt. To read the complete article, please click here.

As you read the brief discussions of each of ten brands, note what all share in common other than sustainable power. Then please share your own thoughts. I deeply regret that so few people leave comments.

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You might have more in common with your great-grandparents than that receding hairline or cleft chin; some of your favorite brands might have been used by your predecessors, even as early as the Civil War. And while your elders may not be transitioning into the digital age with ease (or at all), several of America’s oldest brands have thrived through multiple technology changes. Here are 10 well known brands that appear a lot younger than they are.

Jim Beam

It’s probably not surprising that alcohol is as in demand today as ever. But Jim Beam, the familiar brand of bourbon whiskey, has maintained success as one of the top sellers of whiskey since 1795 and is one of the oldest American liquor brands. Though it faced a little hiccup during Prohibition, it picked up where it left off after the big ban ended and now produces several variations of Jim Beam whiskey. Its recent marketing campaigns have brought the brand into the digital age, with a focus on music and sports by pairing with Kid Rock and ESPN, creating a series of webisodes for the latter. They are also now sponsoring a concert series featuring several well-known bands and musicians. This isn’t the first time Jim Beam has focused on music, though. In the early ’90s, they held a talent contest. The winning duo: Montgomery Gentry, a band that has since been nominated for Grammy Awards and played for millions of fans.


Colgate started out making soaps in 1806 and has been making toothpaste since 1873. In fact, Colgate was the producer of the first toothpaste in a tube, creating the eternal debate between spouses over whether the tube should be squeezed from the bottom or middle. As a company, Colgate joined forces with Palmolive in 1928, but they maintained the popularity of Colgate Toothpaste. This may be due in part to Colgate’s competition with Procter & Gamble’s Crest Toothpaste starting in 1955, and the two are therefore pushed to be on the cutting edge of marketing. For example, both sponsored soap operas when TV was first gaining popularity, and they each are on top of the latest trends in oral care, such as whitening and gum care. Colgate, though, ingeniously repositioned its brand when dentists were recommending that people brush three times a day. Knowing that most people wouldn’t follow that recommendation, Colgate Toothpaste promoted itself as “The toothpaste for people who can only brush twice a day,” giving it an edge over competition that were presumably for the thrice-a-day brushers.

Brooks Brothers

Since Brooks Brothers first started in 1818, — which makes it the oldest clothing store in the U.S. — it has seen a lot of competitors rise and fall. Created as a men’s clothing store in New York, Brooks Brothers now makes women’s, boy’s, and girl’s clothes and has stores all over the world. In the mid-1900s, the company stayed modern by providing ready-to-wear, traditional suits during a time when men wore suits almost every day. Today the company has maintained its popularity by catering to executives, politicians, and movie stars. By creating an elite image, Brooks Brothers remains in the public eye, worn by actors on the big and small screen. Some of these include George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Will Smith. President Barack Obama even wore Brooks Brothers accessories at his inauguration, further cementing the company’s place in modern American life.

Tiffany & Co.

When it comes to branding, Tiffany & Co. may be the best in the business. This famous jewelry store was started in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and has come to be known as one of the strongest brands in the world. The company helped refine some of the traditions that go along with engagement and marriage, which has enabled it to keep its hold on the hearts of the country, or at least the women’s hearts. In 1886, before diamonds were the traditional choice for an engagement ring, Tiffany created the Tiffany Setting diamond engagement ring, one diamond in a six-prong setting, the first of its kind. It became an iconic ring that many women dream of receiving from their boyfriends, even today. The trademark Tiffany Blue also became a symbol of exclusivity; you can only get the robin’s egg blue box with a purchase. Tie that in with the hit movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the status of Audrey Hepburn as a timeless style icon, and Tiffany & Co. can’t be shaken, even in a recession.

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1 Comment

  1. nuala mcardle on January 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Kobe Bryant has a few things to say about adidas…

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