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Telling a better story through company history

A recently published survey links the need to innovate with lessons from the past

 

Building on history to strengthen the present and look to the future with more confidence. In an economy characterised by speed and digitalisation, this approach promises the most results. Finding the correct use of our historical heritage is indeed a complex process, but it can be followed by different companies. After all, each works around its own production culture, where the past heritage is still useful in the present.

Alberta Bernardi, Chiara Luisa Cantù and Elena Cedrola have addressed these themes , focusing on the fashion textile sector.

“Heritage marketing e valorizzazione del territorio: il percorso verso l’innovazione sostenibile nel settore tessile e moda” (“Heritage marketing and territorial enhancement: the path towards sustainable innovation in the textile and fashion industry”), just recently published in the Corporate Governance and Research & Development studies – Open Access Peer Reviewed Journal, is a research study that starts with an observation: companies have to innovate their processes and products sustainably to distinguish themselves and gain a competitive advantage. This seems to be far from the subject actually analysed in the research. However, it is right on topic, for the aim of the study is “to contribute to the growing body of literature that explores what sustainable innovation really is and the drivers that enable its design and development”. This is where the underlying theme comes in. Bernardi, Cantù and Cedrola write that they “investigate the strategic potential of heritage marketing as a tool for enhancing the company’s history and values, including sustainability and the local area”.

As mentioned above, the research focuses on the textile and fashion sector in virtue of its frequently reported environmental, social and economic unsustainability and lack of openness to innovation in processes, products and business models.

The three researchers do not limit themselves to a theoretical analysis of the literature and the experiences of others, but also examine empirical evidence arising from the presentation of a case study about an internationalised Italian fashion company. The paper’s conclusion suggests that the strategic management of corporate heritage and brand heritage (or the historical and cultural heritage of the company and its values) can help companies implement sustainable innovation. This is made possible by recognising the worth of a company’s history and the values that have marked its development: environmental and social sustainability. The two forms of sustainability incite a company to reduce the environmental impact of production and, at the same time, take proactive actions towards the local area and community. Another point that emerges is the strong need for the textile supply chain to move towards greater, if not total, circularity.

The work by Bernardi, Cantù and Cedrola is useful for gaining a better understanding of the close links between aspects of business reality that may seem distant on the surface, but only on the surface.

Heritage marketing e valorizzazione del territorio: il percorso verso l’innovazione sostenibile nel settore tessile e moda (Heritage marketing and territorial enhancement: the path towards sustainable innovation in the textile and fashion industry)

Alberta Bernardi, Chiara Luisa Cantù, Elena Cedrola

Corporate Governance and Research & Development studies – Open Access Peer Reviewed Journal, 2021