Using your company history as a marketing tool
by Joanna Godden.
In a previous life I worked for a medium sized manufacturing company whose company subsidiaries had combined roots stretching back more than a 100 years. When I first arrived at the company our company heritage was celebrated and there was some pride in using our established date on marketing literature. However we were also in an age of extreme technological growth, the dot com boom and all of a sudden you were perceived as a dinosaur if you had been up and running for more than 10 minutes. Our heritage was swept to one side.
Now as time has moved on, once again there is a return to the trust of well established companies, too many fingers got burnt with interacting with the fly-by-nights. People are again looking at those companies that have not only survived but thrived through the recessions.
So how can you use your companies heritage to give you the competitive edge.
Playing on people’s natural love of all things nostalgic is a marketing tactic that stirs people’s emotions. Raid the company archives and look for old photograph’s of staff or premises. Old marketing collateral and campaign material from a by-gone age create a fascination that works well especially through social media. An excellent example is how RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) capitalized on old campaign materials found when clearing out a warehouse. They created a huge amount of content and held an exhibition featuring 40 iconic posters dating from the 1930s to the 1970s, covering all aspects of safety.
Old before and after photos of high street premises are always popular, if you haven’t got any in your archives a Google search may throw up some gems, or even a visit to your local museum.
Sometimes looking back through your company history can provide you with the tools to move yourself forward. Its more than looking back and seeing what worked and learning from the past to avoid costly mistakes. looking at the past can provide you with the answers to over come business issues in the present. This was beautifully demonstrated by the food giant Kraft when taking over Cadbury. On paper the deal looked like a no brainer. Kraft would gain market share and know how and Cadbury would have more financial backup. However what wasn’t taken into account was the perceived cultural differences between the British and US companies which made the merger difficult. Kraft commissioned a report that looked back through the company histories of the two parties. They analysed cultural similarities and differences back over time and used this to create the merger programme which would have the list impact on the workers involved and made the acquisition as smooth as possible.
Milestones & PR
If you have a major milestone or anniversary coming up always make sure you get maximum publicity from the event. Create promotions based around the anniversary. In one company I worked with on their 50th anniversary, not only did we create a book of their history with personal accounts from staff present and past but we ran a promotion with selected products (for a limited period I may add) at the same price they were 50 years ago when they were first launched. The hard back books are still a treasured possession for the staff but the promotion created a fabulous ‘do you remember’ discussion on social media.
There are some design elements that can give your brand the air of a long established and therefore trusted company. We are not talking old fashioned logo’s here we are talking timeless logo’s. Use fonts with serifs such as the classic Times New Roman, that give an air of authority. Or script or copperplate type fonts. All these fonts project quality and assurance. Go for deep colours, navy blue, bottle green or deep maroons, a touch of gold doesn’t go a miss on company signage.
So in the days of tough business conditions celebrate your heritage, show how far you have come, make sure your clients are aware of your strong historic foundations that both your futures could be built on.