- On October 25, 2016
Companies—and people—like to talk about their legacies, which is understandable. Most want to make a difference and be remembered for what they did. Right now, for example, Barack Obama is thinking a lot about his presidential legacy.
Problem is legacy also refers to something that is on its way to being obsolete—or is already there. In healthcare, it’s frequently used to describe technology that needs to be updated, as in, Insurance companies need to replace their legacy systems with nimbler digital systems that will facilitate reimbursements.
In the media world, legacy media refers to media that predates cable television and social media. Think old media versus new media.
Companies sometimes mistakenly use legacy to describe their expertise. I worked with a pharmaceutical company that wanted to cite its legacy in delivering innovative medicines as proof that it could now produce breakthroughs in immunotherapy. We cycled through a number of alternatives—expertise among them—before landing on The company has a tradition of delivering innovative medicines, because tradition conveys the company is still very much in the groundbreaking game.
I just read about a fashion consultant who works for the legacy menswear company Hackett London (which, by the way, has been in business for only one generation). I think the author meant prestigious.
And when the fashion house Gucci cast aside its longtime design chief, The Wall Street Journal wrote, The company concluded that she focused too much on the past, the firm’s heritage and legacy, rather than building its own future and staying current.
Legacy is used correctly here, but concentrating on it didn’t work out so well for the designer.