08/03/2013 10:24 GMT | Updated 08/03/2013 10:24 GMT

Brand Birthdays

Several big name British brands have blown out the candles on the birthday cake recently, including the London Underground and Aston Martin, which turned 150 and 100 respectively in January. And, the hallowed pink pages of the Financial Times turned 125 only a couple of weeks ago. Globally, big brand birthday celebrations have become very popular, with notable birthday campaigns from Bacardi Rum, Diet Coke and Ray Ban in the last few months.

Brand birthdays have the benefit of showing the longevity of a company and provide that comfort level for the consumer, especially those hitting the 100 mark. But the age of a company doesn't give it credibility on its own. Those looking to mark their anniversaries need to show they have something substantial to say to their customers that's not just how old they are. Just having a big party, isn't going to instil brand confidence and love in the consumer.

Brands should demonstrate what the company has achieved over the years and why it will continue to demonstrate this kind of innovation in the future. Birthday campaigns should clearly reflect the brand and its messaging, don't just throw everything out the window for one day a year. Timeline's and anniversary images are traditional marketing tools that tend to get pulled out the bag at this time of year. Coke reissued its vintage bottle design and Ray Ban created a series of vintage images for their Never Hide campaign, both were a nice touch. But whilst an anniversary celebration is a great opportunity to demonstrate what your company has done, the icing on the cake is showing the benefit to you customers. Kraft for example created a birthday campaign around user generated content from its customers for Oreo, inviting them to share their favourite Oreo moment.

This is not something brands should just be rolling out once a year with their birthday cake; businesses need to demonstrate an on-going commitment to their customers. This starts from the inside out, providing support from the moment they sign up to get them up and running. Getting customers involved in joint marketing activities shows commitment to them, and is also a great opportunity for them to boost their own brand visibility.

Creating a more personalised approach for your current customers and potential customers is becoming increasingly important in both the B2C and B2B markets. Birthday celebrations give big brands a way to humanise themselves. Such campaigns can also give a much needed boost to their presence on social networks, which is becoming increasingly important. The power of social networks mean brands can now uncover far more about their prospects from the information they have chosen to make available online. Cold calls shouldn't exist in this day and age for businesses. For businesses this more personalised engagement online can go a long way to progressing to a face to face meeting.

Social networks are providing us with an opportunity to continuously engage with our customers and listen to their valuable feedback. Each online community is a great resource for your brand to gather feedback.