History Is Not Bunk: Brands, Values and Strategies; 22 RECLAIMING OUR SOCIAL PURPOSE
When Henry Ford said 'History is Bunk' in 1921 the motor magnate's intention was to show that present and future events do not necessarily flow from the past nor that there is anything useful to learn from history.
As the National Housing Federation launches a debate about the shape of the housing association sector, it is crucial that Ford's maxim is set aside.
We must reclaim our social purpose and resist the attractions of overt commercialism.
Aligned Branding At SWS Communications we believe in linking branding in social housing with the values arising from the proud records and deep historical roots of social landlords in tackling housing need and building communities.
For those of us who care about social housing, actively contributing to the development of the collective social housing brand is intrinsically bound up with the history of this diverse sector, the legacy of achievement and by learning from past mistakes.
Of crucial importance is the alignment between the social housing's brand and its social and cultural identity stretching back more than 100 years to inform future decisions and the formulation of corporate plans and strategies. This strengthens brand integrity and links corporate mission with public image.
The social housing brand and the way in which it is deployed, needs to reflect and convey the values of social landlords which have been built since the 19th Century.
Building a powerful new brand is about more than creating strong positive perceptions in the minds of stakeholders and communities. It must also reflect all the tangible benefits of the brand in terms of long-term commitment, delivery on the ground, the highest possible ethics in governance and the inclusion of stakeholders in the decision-making process.
A positive social housing brand should be driven by the legacy of social landlords including providing affordable housing where it is most needed, bringing hope to disadvantaged neighbourhoods, bolstering community sustainability, transforming the lives of residents and enhancing life chances. Social housing also has a robust historical legacy of creating jobs, developing pathways to employment and training, founding social enterprises and extending affordable credit to financially excluded communities. Creating social value is in the sector's DNA.
Histories and 'Look Aheads' At SWS we have a strong record of linking branding with historical research to uncover longstanding values, achievements and approaches in order to further the development of future plans and strategies.
We have written an extended history of Focus Housing going back to 1925.
We later wrote a history of Prime Focus and Touchstone as they came together to form Midland Heart. To celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2005, Trident commissioned SWS to research and write a full history of its development, including mergers with other housing associations and the creation of a group of housing organisations, charities, social enterprises. …