Hack your commute: Read up on your brand’s history

Taking a look at a brand’s past can help to change its future and stop marketers repeating past mistakes.

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It’s amazing how short-term corporate memory can be. As team members leave through natural attrition and decision-makers are replaced by external hires, the stories of a brand’s successes and failures can be quickly buried by the sands of time.

Often a company’s website and marketing materials are the only records of its history, and once a campaign ends or a positioning changes, the old collateral is thrown away without a second thought to make way for the replacements. With new targets and new priorities, few executives will see the value in preserving them for posterity.

That’s not true of all brands, however. Some have been alert to the benefits of keeping detailed records and storing important artefacts for decades, and have richly stocked archives of their brand history. If you’re lucky enough to work at such a company and able to access the materials – and better yet, check documents out to read away from to office – learning where the brand has come from can be one of the best insights to where it is going.

Luxury marketers are the obvious exemplars of those who instinctively know how and why to keep in touch with a brand’s past. There are countless instances of fashion houses that have gone back to the roots of their founders in order to root out the brand DNA and apply it to their present day positioning – whether that be as a turnaround strategy or simply an ongoing effort to remain relevant.

But the principles are just as applicable to all sectors, and indeed the opportunity to exploit brand history may be bigger in industries where it isn’t common practice – giving you a personal opportunity to make a significant difference too. If you have the misfortune of working somewhere that has never kept historical records, then you could instead use this moment to begin an internal campaign to start doing it.

As Mark Twain could tell you, “There’s no such thing as a new idea.” For that matter, so could the 20-year company veteran who has seen various new colleagues come in and repeat the same mistakes. By refreshing your corporate memory, you could help change the future.

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