“This is how we use our history.”

Every company has a history that is unique to the organization. But only some companies see their own history as a strategic resource. They use their heritage actively, to grow and strengthen today’s activities. We often ask these companies to share in why and what they do. Here are over 30 filmed presentations from companies who explain how they strategically use their own authentic history – or as we call it, history marketing.

H&M och BENETTON. Legendary designer Margareta van den Bosch from H&M and brand manager Gianluca Pastore from the Benetton Group exchanged thoughts on the benefits of using history in the fashion industry. (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In English.)

BMW. Ralph Huber, head of BMW Museum and BMW Group Classic Communications,explained how this classic car brand uses its history to support today’s car sales. And all the time while making all historical activities profitable on their own. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In English)

MERCEDES-BENZ.  Jürgen E Wittman, senior manager at Mercedes-Benz Classic Archives talked about opening the company’s archives online and to the public. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

BUDWEISER. Tracy Lauer, archives manager at Anheuser-Busch in St Louis, USA, talked about the brewery giant’s use of historical material, both for bringing back old brands and for Super Bowl ads. And how her boss told her to put “Chief Storyteller” on her business card.  (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

ADIDAS. Susen Friedrich, collection manager at Adidas, talked about how the company works with preserving its historical material and presenting it online, as visible for instance by the sites Adidas history and Adidas Archive. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 april 2017. In English.)

MARTINI & ROSSI. Anna Scudellari, from the Martini & Rossi Historical Archive and member of the Bacardi Archive Team, speaks about heritage as a source of authenticity, inspiration and communication for the MARTINI Brand. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BOARD (ESB), IRELAND. How many of us have an emotional connection to our utilities provider? Deirdre McParland, senior archivist at Ireland’s state-owned electricity provider ESB share how they use authentic stories from the past to create a connection both to end-consumers and to the industry at large. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

SWAROVSKI. Stephanie Bonsack, head of corporate archives at the Austrian crystal giant Swarovski talked about the company’s archives and how it’s positioned in the company.  With a great short film about it all. (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In English)

ASTRID LINDGREN AB. Malin Billing, rights manager and grandchild of legendary author Astrid Lindgren, shared what it’s like to work at a company where so many have a relationship to its history. And how that puts you in a position of having to monitor, safeguard and manage the history, so that the real story of Astrid Lindgren isn’t distorted. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish. Subtitles in English and Swedish.)

THE ABSOLUT COMPANY. Ceo Anna Malmhake explains how today’s Absolut continues to be inspired by “vodka king” L.O. Smith, the man who came up with absolutely purified vodka. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish. Subtitles in English and Swedish.)

CLAS OHLSON. Niklas Carlsson, communication head at 100-year old Clas Ohlson from Insjön in Dalecarlia, share how the retailer continues to make their history relevant, not just for coworkers but also for today’s customers. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish.)

INVESTOR. Chairman Jacob Wallenberg share how today’s family members of the reason about the value of history and about heritage management – and how that in some way differs from previous generations. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish)

ICA. Eva Burén, head of information at ICA-handlarnas Förbund, and Björn Olsson, director of communication at ICA Gruppen, explains how Sweden’s leading food retailer ICA works to keep “the idea of Hakon Swenson from 1917” about “free retailers in tight cooperation” alive today. (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In Swedish.)

ALECTA. Martin Hedensiö, director of communication, shares how pension fund Alecta has placed the story of their beginnings and heirtage in the larger communicative platform of today’s Alecta. (From HMS17, 3 Octd 2017. In Swedish.)


LEVI’S. Tracey Panek, corporate historian and brand guardian at Levi Strauss, talks about how the jeansmaker shares its history, among other things to maniest its role as the creators of the “blue jean”. (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In English)

BONNIERS och ROTSCHILD. Melanie Aspey, Rothschild Archives, and Albert Bonnier, Albert Bonniers Förlag, talked about the generational perspective in family-led corporations: History’s Role in Family Businesses. (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In English.)

VOLVO och COCA-COLA. Ted Ryan from the Coca-Cola Archives and Per Carleö, Volvo Car Sweden, talked about how history can strengthen consumer brands specifically.  (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In English.)

ERICSSON och IKEA.  Ben de Vries, Ericsson, and Patrik Nygren-Bonnier, IKEA, in a talk about how to balance your origin story, which normally is intimately linked to a specific country, when you are a global company. We called the talk “Using Your Corporate Swedish History on the Global Arena.” (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In English.)

FAZER GROUP.  Ulrika Romantschukglobal head of communication and brand at Finnish food group Fazer Group, explained how the family-owned group uses the strength of its own history when addressing today’s challenges. Among their toolkit is an historical film, with a script by famed Finnish author Kari Hotakainen. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish)

ERSTA DIAKONI. Since 1851, “The Deaconry of Ersta” (in loose translation) has taken care of people in exposed life situations. Ersta has often led the way both in medical care and social work – but sometimes also fallen behind its times. Stefan Nilsson, direktor and head of Ersta Diakoni, explains how Ersta uses the lessons of the past.  (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In Swedish)

SVENSKT TENN. Thommy Bindefeld, marketing and creative director at Svenskt Tenn, talked about the link between a unique corporate history and a company’s activities today. One example is how Svenskt Tenn continues to develop products from its historical archives with today’s designers. (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In Swedish)

DJURGÅRDENS IF.  Pelle Kotschack, ceo of sports club Djurgårdens IF (Alliansföreningen) explained how a sports club, with its constant influx of new players, both on junior and senior levels, has to constantly work to keep its history vivid for everyone. He also wondered why companies don’t honor their previous employees more – like the sports clubs honor their previous key players. When will a company raise an employee’s jersey to the ceiling? (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish)

HARPERCOLLINS UK. Dawn Sinclair, archivist at publishing house HarperCollins UK, shared how a 200-year old company preserves and then activates its history to help guide today’s publishing decisions.  (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In English.)

SYSTEMBOLAGET. Anna Larsson, head of store communication at Systembolaget, the state run liquor store monopoly, explained how important it is that all coworkers at Systembolaget knows the origin of the monopoly and its full history. This so they can explain today’s situation to customers, and provide the context to the exclusive right that Systembolaget has to sell alcohol in Sweden. (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In Swedish)

SVENSKA DAGBLADET. Fredric Karén, publisher at Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, shares the work that the newspaper has done in digitizing and publishing all historical issues of the paper. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In Swedish)

NORDSTJERNAN.  Viveca Ax:son Johnson, chair of Nordstjernan, shares her view on “the future of history”, from the perspective of a multi-generational family  business, dating back to 1890, when shipping company Rederiaktiebolaget Nordstjernan was founded. (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In Swedish)

IKEA. In the summer of 2016, furniture giant IKEA turned its first store in Älmhult, Sweden into a corporate museum. Museum director Carina Kloek-Malmsten talks bout the organizational and educational importance of a corporate archive and museum. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

NORSKA OLJE- OCH GASARKIVET.Torkel Thime, from the Norwegian Oil & Gas Archives explains how an entire industry pooled resources to create a common archive. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

THE HISTORY FACTORY. Tim Schantz, managing director at The History Factory (USA) share how the consultancy works with bringing corporate stories to life. He also shares tips on how to put an accounting value on a corporate archive. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

GODREJ ARCHIVES. The Indian corporate behemouth Godrej manufactures everything from soap to space ships. Its chief architect Vrunda Pathare explains how this makes the corporate archive not just a place for inspiration, but a source for creating knowledge. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

HONG KONG HERITAGE PROJECT. In Hong Kong, business archives play an increasingly vital role in the preservation of Hong Kong’s history and memory. Research manager Amelia Allsop, shared how the Hong Kong Heritage Project (HKHP) works, building extensively on the archive of the Kadoorie family, whose diverse business interests include hospitality, utilities and property. She also introduced the business archives landscape in Hong Kong. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

SHIBUSAWA EIICHI MEMORIAL FOUNDATION. Yuko Matsuzaki Nagai, business archives specialist at the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation in Japan shares her vast experience in getting companies interested in setting up their own corporate archives. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

HAGLEY MUSEUM & LIBRARY. Erik Rau, director for the Hagley Museum & Library (USA) explained how they work in preserving and presenting important aspects of the American business history. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

What do the academics and the outside world say about companies making active use of their own history?

WIKIMEDIA. Since July 2016, Katherine Maher is the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and its sister projects. She spoke about the need for transparency in a fact-resistant world – and the role that business archives can play. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

PROFESSOR JEAN SEATON.  Jean SeatonProfessor of Media History at University of Westminister and the Official Historian of the BBC gave a spirited reflection on the topic of “whose job is it to save history anyway?” (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

KUNGLIGA BIBLIOTEKET. Lars Ilshammar, deputy national librarian at the National Library of Sweden reflects on how digitization doesn’t just affect the work of national libraries, but also how they view themselves and their missions. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

PROFESSOR BEN WUBS. Ben Wubs from the Erasmus School of History, Culture & Communication in Rotterdam spoke about his research into what makes history so valuable, under the heading of ”Usages of the Past: History, Reputation and Storytelling”.

PROFESSSOR BEN WUBS (igen). One year later, Ben Wubs gave an update on how companies use – or don’t use – their history to build their brands and as source for (authentic!) storytelling. (From ICA SBA 17, 6 April 2017. In English.)

What is Sjöman saying?

Anders Sjöman, head of communication at the Centre for Business History, has for the past years given an annual update on the state of history marketing, as part of the Centre’s annual History Marketing Summit.

SJÖMAN ABOUT HISTORY MARKETING (2018). Anders’ annual update on history marketing. This time with a focus on arguments AGAINST working with your history – and how you can counter them. (From HMS18, 6 Sep 2018. In Swedish only.)


SJÖMAN ABOUT HISTORY MARKETING (2017). Anders’ annual update about the state of history marketing, this time with several short cases about how companies have activated their heritage in the last year.  (From HMS17, 3 Oct 2017. In Swedish only.)

SJÖMAN ABOUT HISTORY MARKETING (2016). A short introduction to history marketing, or how companies can use their own authentic history to strengthen both brand and organization.  (From HMS16, 1 Sep 2016. In Swedish, subtitled in English and Swedish.)