Leveraging History to Build a Brand

May 9, 2018

Every brand has a heritage. Some are a bit deeper and richer than others, some a bit more

colorful, but every company has a history they should be proud of and be willing to share. A company’s heritage is what sets it apart and makes it unique.

As communicators, we have a responsibility to understand, appreciate and recognize this uniqueness then convey it to relevant audiences.
Longtime client Jim Beam offers a terrific example of a company that touts its heritage. Founded more than 200 years ago, and featuring seven generations of distillers, their story is certainly special. And, over the years, Beam has done a great job of telling it in a variety of ways: books, videos, seminars, photos, all creatively capturing and communicating the essence of the brand.
Understanding that Beam’s story is unique – not many places have been around for two centuries nor have had a variety of colorful family characters leading it – any company, regardless of the industry, can borrow a page from them when it comes to their telling their heritage story.
 Here are just a few thought-starters:
  • Milestones. This is an obvious and certainly time-worn idea, but one that works. Is it the 50th anniversary of your company? The tenth? The second? Did your company just produce its one-millionth widget, or land its one-millionth customer? Regardless of the reason, milestones, grounded in history and achievement, can serve as an effective “hook” for telling your story. So dust off the record books and see what’s coming your way. Then plan an event, engage your customers in a promotion and get the word out via traditional and social channels. Just don’t let the milestone pass unnoticed. You’ve earned some attention.
  • People. People make a company and, for the most part, people are interesting, especially the people (or person) who founded the company. So do some research and bring those visionaries out of the shadows. Discover what made them tick, where they lived and what their favorite dessert was. Whether through a book or video, a professional story teller or display, bring them to life in a way your audience can relate to and understand.  Remind your customers that your company wasn’t formed by accident, but instead was the idea of a living and breathing person – a person worth knowing.
  • Old stuff. That old filing cabinet or dusty storage room in the basement might be a treasure chest of historical materials that should be preserved if not cherished. That letter from the founder to his father asking for a loan, that photo of the first day in business, that sign with the original logo, those funny old ads, are all gold. Take them out of storage and get them in front of customers. People love to see and touch history. It makes them feel like they too are part of the story.

For ideas or thoughts on developing your own Heritage Program, contact our heritage PR team today!