Brand Value Of Heritage

A recent study by Spencer Stuart reveals that for the first time in a decade, the tenure of CMO positions is on the decline. In fact, the average tenure for chief marketing officers has dropped almost 10 percent in the last year from 48 months to 44 months.

When the average tenure for your job is less than four years, and your role is to effectively sell your company’s unique value proposition, where should you go to learn the most in the shortest period of time? Your history is as good a place to start as anywhere. Here’s why:

1. Your organization’s past contains the essence of its culture and brand.

Staying true to your brand is marketing 101. More than any other asset at your disposal, history (and ideally a well-organized company archive) represents an authentic portrayal of the company’s innovations, successes, and in many cases, failures. Studying it is like counting the rings on a fallen tree to determine its age and history – you witness the impact of the fire or drought and how the tree’s growth rebounded in the following years. Or, on a personal level, it’s like submitting your own DNA for genetic analysis to gain insights about your own heritage ancestry and personal health to better understand yourself.

2. Access to heritage assets sets up your team and agencies for success.

Just as important as your own learning curve, are the learning curves for the new team members and agencies you plan to bring with you. It befuddles me that more CMOs and agencies don’t begin with understanding the heritage of the company or brand to inform the new shifts in strategy. Our experience is that all agencies are starving for this kind of information. It’s just a matter of how accessible it is to them.

3. History can provide inspiration for new ideas.

Knowing your organization’s history can spark creativity. More often than not you will discover things from the past that can be reimagined or built upon. Conversely, you may also discover ideas that have already been done before! The History Factory has had a number of experiences with our clients where we remind them that something they are planning or launching has, in fact, been previously done; history is repeating itself.

4. Heritage can amplify authentic storytelling.

Conventional wisdom is that authentic storytelling is the Holy Grail of creative execution. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that there are lots of stories from your organization’s history just waiting to be freshly interpreted.

5. History can help drive change.

When your organization is contemplating a shift in strategy – whether it’s evolutionary or revolutionary — change management may be a critical component of success. Internally, a demonstrated understanding, grasp and use of history can help stakeholders —many of whom have been with the organization far longer than the new people in marketing—get on board with the proposed change.

To be clear, heritage can be an external or internal tool. Having a strong understanding of the history of your company and brand doesn’t necessarily mean that heritage should always be a central feature of every marketing initiative. But, having a firm grasp on where the organization has been and where it’s headed will make you far more effective in your role as CMO.