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The power of nostalgia in internal comms

It’s confessions (from a dancefloor) time: this blog was partly inspired by the Gurus’ trip to see the Abba Voyage show in London in the summer. This isn’t a review of that show - there are plenty of those online (but, yes, it is as good as they all say it is!). Rather, this is a reflection on how the show’s intoxicating mix of story-telling songs, clever use of technology, and harnessing of nostalgia results in a powerful and emotional experience for the audience. The parallels with good internal comms are clear for all to see!

And just as a familiar song (or twenty) can transport you back to a simpler or happier time, images, stories or phrases can also be powerful triggers for nostalgia.

Some companies play on their history in this way to great effect with their external marketing. Nintendo pushes its history into the future with almost everything they do. Coca-Cola regularly plays on their long history (and historical iconography). Even Adidas brings back old trainers (such as the Gazelle) and pulls on the nostalgia strings to ensure the vintage becomes the one to have now!

If we know nostalgia works in convincing consumers to part with their hard-earned cash, can it be used within internal comms to reassure and inspire? It certainly should be, as it can undoubtedly reinforce that all-important sense of belonging by connecting colleagues through their shared collective history.

Here are three simple ideas for using nostalgia within your internal comms and celebrating your history…

Blast (from) the past

Why not create some new, bespoke content to remind your colleagues about your history, your achievements, and the way the business has evolved? If you have a long-serving colleague or two who are happy to reminisce, get their memories down as a blog or a short vlog. Keep it on brand, and get them to talk about how the business, its tech, products or services have changed but how the purpose, culture and values have remained resolute. You could have some fun with this by getting new starters and long-servers to interview each other about their differing experiences and the ones they share. (As a little tip, if it’s in line with your tone of voice, you can boost the humour and warmth by including a couple of suitable outtakes - with the performers’ permission, of course!)

Celebrate longevity

Many organisations already shout about their long servers in one way or another. It’s a great way to show that colleagues (want to) stick around, and that they are recognised and appreciated for doing so. A culture of long service reflects an organisation that looks after its employees.

This needs to be more than a stray photo of Joan from Accounts receiving a carriage clock or a company-branded biro from her manager in the tea room. One idea would be a celebratory interactive space on the intranet with heartfelt messages of reflection and appreciation from the CEO or senior leaders. A feature in the newsletter might be another. An easy way to celebrate such an anniversary would be to tie it in with the “blast (from) the past” blog or vlog outlined above.

Mine the visuals

If you have archives of old marketing material, product designs, project paraphernalia, or anything else that showcases where you’ve come from and how you’ve progressed, then make a feature out of it. If it looks a little dated or clunky next to “the now”, then all the better. A little humorous self-mocking and humility will warm the tone and boost the power of the nostalgia nicely. Any side-by-side ‘then’ and ‘now’ comparisons will only serve to underline how you’ve grown and developed. It's the perfect way to recognise and celebrate your past whilst showing you have the adaptability for the future.

Share these time capsules across your channels on an ongoing basis and mark any relevant anniversaries with a fresh push. Designate a space on your social channels for others to share their memories, stories and photos (with a suitable hashtag for ease of identification?) and amplify the best ones across your other channels.

Nostalgia is a relatively untapped tool for many organisations and their communicators. And it’s a powerful one for organisations with some history behind them. If you’re not sure your internal coms channels are up to the job, then get in touch for a health check. And if you’d like some help with something a bit more special on the video front, we’d be happy to help with that, too.


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