Heritage brands have always held the same promise: We’ve done this for a long time and therefore you should trust our brand and the products we release under it. As the brands continued to push this rhetoric, consumers substantiated it. Many iconic brands—Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Levi’s, Brooks Brothers, Tiffany & Co—are decades, if not centuries old, and the idea of age as it relates to consumer brands is often equated to wine and other spirits: The older, the better.

“Age” isn’t just about authority (à the parent-to-child relationship), but also tends to be equated with trust, which drives the value proposition of being old, but consistent. While in the old days, age often meant quality and was something to pay more for, the acceleration of the direct-to-consumer and digitally-native shift in the last decade led hundreds, if not thousands of brands to cut out the middleman, lower prices, and talk directly to customers, challenging the value of age as it relates to brands. Sure, you can buy a bag that Louis Vuitton has (hopefully) been refining for half a century, but you could also buy something for less money from a brand that didn’t exist three years ago that embodies a similar or possibly even higher quality than the heritage brand it competes with.

Today, in the eyes of many, age is often associated with inferiority—something not worth paying for. Modern brands have been chipping away at the product quality, pricing structures and distribution methods of their elderly counterparts, questioning the main consumer-facing value proposition of heritage brands: We’ve done this before, trust us. Younger brands have been able to establish similar, if not higher levels of trust than older brands in a fraction of the time, not just by selling direct-to-consumer, but also by respecting their customer.

The ascent of modern brands calls into question whether customers and the brands themselves were correctly attributing the success of heritage brands to age. What if it wasn’t age after all, but rather a history of quality execution?

In a previous piece, we established the difference between The Brand (the look and feel of a company) from Brand (the accumulation of all of a company’s actions to make something meaningful and memorable). Put differently, Brand is built (or destroyed) on a company’s ability to execute well over time. This execution is not just about product, but includes advertising, customer services, retail—everything in the brand’s toolkit.

When people say they trust a heritage brand, what they really mean is that the brand is executed well over a long time—therefore they continue to believe it will in the future. This forward-looking belief is what drives loyalty, nudging people back to their familiar and time-honored choices.

Through this lens, age itself has no value—rather, it’s a company’s track record of execution that creates value. Some modern brands have been able to establish this in a rapid period of time, which is impressive, but will be tested as time goes on. One important caveat is that customers of many modern brands have not yet owned and used their products for more than a few years—the verdict is still out on how long they will last and whether the brand can maintain a high level of execution over time.

Even so, heritage brands need to find better ways to showcase their track record of execution to maintain a positive brand image. That said, modern brands need to stay singularly focused on executing day in and day out if they want to take on their older and bigger rivals.

Sometimes everyone wishes they were in each other’s shoes, even as they rail against them.