“Your history IS your brand.”
Anders Sjöman before The Trademark Day

Brands are not created from nothing. They grow over time, in constant interaction with customers, partners and employees. From that perspective, a company’s brand simply is the sum of its history. And what then becomes more important than keeping track of your own history? Before his talk at the annual Trademark Day (Varumärkesdagen) 2022, our communications manager Anders Sjöman tells more about strategic history use and how an archive can become one of the best assets a marketing and brand managers can have.

The interview, in its Swedish original, can be found on The Tradmeark Day’s website.
The full program for The Trademark Day 2 June 2022 is available here (in Swedish).

You are the closing speaker at Brand Day 2 June 2022. Tell us a little about yourself?
At the Centere for Business History, I wear two hats. On the one hand, I lead our agency work and our customer assignments, where our archivists and editors help companies to both preserve and tell their story. On the other hand, I am the company’s communications manager, where our marketing group works to explain to more and more companies and organizations why history is so important, both in general but also as a very useful tool for business development.

Prior, I developed online language schools at EF Education, wrote cases and course material for Harvard Business School, worked as a communications consultant at Springtime in Stockholm. The work I do today is like working with all this at the same time.

You work at the Centre for Business History. What is that? 
The Center for Business History helps companies take care of their historical material, i.e. everything that shows what a business has done, how they decided to do it and then implemented and communicated it. In practice, that means lots of documents and photos that we collect in orderly, professionally managed archives for the companies. We also help them to research and tell their own stories, often in connection with anniversaries, but almost as often because they want to clarify their own contribution to our collective society. We are about 30 people who then work with “preserving and telling the history of business”.

What will your talk at The Trademark Day be about? 
I will mainly talk about how history builds brands. It is how a business interacts with its various audiences, over time, that creates the brand, and if you want to manage or change your brand, you need to know how it was created. That’s where knowing your history comes in. But even more important is almost understanding how to actively use your own story to strengthen both brands and your own organization.

Marketers and organizational consultants today often talk about companies needing to find their “why”, of becoming “value-based organizations”, of “staying true to your corporate DNA”. Nothing clarifies a company’s DNA better than its own history. So I will talk about that – and then also about how to avoid getting too “back-heavy” . A good use of history – or history marketing, as it is also called – is always future-oriented, with the aim that your heritage should help create momentum forward for what you have to do today. 

The title of your talk is “Your history IS your brand” – how good are organizations at taking care of their history and communicating it to their stakeholders?
Many businesses use their history as a strategic asset in a highly business-like way. We usually gather several of them once a year at our History Marketing Summit, and if you want to see what they say, there are over 50 filmed presentations on our website.

But there are many companies that still see history as something old, irrelevant and uninteresting – when in fact it is an asset to use, just like all the other assets a company has at its disposal. That is the point I will try to clarify in my lecture. And I will give several examples of how others have done.

Are there any other speakers at The Trademark Day that you are curious about?
It is always exciting to get an update from Groth, of course, on trademark law. Then it will be exciting to hear what Jonas Colliander at Stockholm School of Economics has to say.

Among the companies, I am interested in what Lena Lassenius at Svenska Spel has to say. We take care of their archive for them and have made a general history book about Svenska Spel specifically but also a separate one about the development of the modern gaming industry.

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