A business' golden anniversary isn't only a cause for celebration – it's also an opportunity to strengthen relationships with stakeholders and win new customers. The 50-year milestone is worth recognizing when you consider that only one-third of small businesses survive more than a decade. Whether you plan a year-long, week-long or single-day celebration, it's important to plan ahead.

Create a Theme

Draft a statement that summarizes the purpose behind the 50th anniversary celebration to keep your message on track and serve as its theme. A theme can be as simple as "50 Years of Innovation" or take a more detailed approach. For example, to celebrate 50 years of business consulting, The Boston Consulting Group based its communication messages on “Shaping the Future Together.”

Another valuable marketing tool is a commemorative logo. Include it on all correspondence, sales literature and marketing materials – including advertising, sales promotion items and social media platforms – to increase awareness of the business' long and successful run. You also can put 50th anniversary seals or stickers on existing letterhead, business cards and promotional pieces.

Create Special Editions of Your Product and Brand

Adding a celebratory element to your company's participation in conferences and trade shows can help you stand out and introduce prospects to the company's 50 years of achievement. Companies offering tours of their facilities can incorporate the 50-year milestone into these programs as well by displaying photos that walk visitors through the company's history.

You might also want to use this opportunity to launch special editions of a product, a new brand or new programs. Truck manufacturer Peterbilt, for example, embellished its logo for its 50-year anniversary and put it on special edition trucks sold that year. You might also incorporate "50" into special offers such as 50 percent off coupons or a sale of 50 bonus items. Publishing a book on the company's history can serve as a human resources, marketing and sales tool beyond the anniversary year. You may also try unveiling a new location or launching a new website to recognize the past while pointing toward the future 50 years.

Hold a 50-Themed Philanthropic Event 

Company anniversaries are ideal opportunities to cement community relations and demonstrate goodwill through a philanthropic event or a contribution to a local nonprofit. Options include sponsoring a scholarship to a school with ties to the business, sponsoring a fundraising gala to address a community need, or underwriting a community music festival everyone can enjoy.

Less expensive, yet equally effective, activities include donating products or services. For example, an advertising agency could offer 50 hours of free tutoring to non-profit managers on how to use social media. Or, an employee volunteer initiative could provide 50 hours of service to a chosen cause such as an animal shelter. A variation of this employee-involvement effort is adopting 50 different charitable organizations in which employees can volunteer during office hours.

Hold Fun Events for Employees

No company reaches a major milestone without a dedicated workforce. As part of your 50th anniversary celebration, plan activities to recognize the role employees played in the organization's success. This can boost morale and increase employee engagement. You might host a picnic for employees, retirees and their families and offer gifts and prizes that mark 50 years of accomplishments. Depending on the corporate culture, a more formal dinner event with entertainment may be more appropriate. The anniversary can also be marked with the introduction of a new award or incentive program. A video of employee interviews and their career stories can be played at the employee gathering and be used on the company website to show the organization's human side.

Celebrate Your History Online

Celebrating a 50th anniversary by revamping the company website can renew interest in the business. Adding a 50th anniversary banner or commemorative logo on the home page is the simplest way to do this. You could also create a history section to your page though this requires more time and investment. A great idea for companies with a big enough budget is to hold a 50-day promotion that gives customers a chance to win a $50 gift certificate by ordering online.

Emails sent during the commemorative period should include a themed tag line, such as "Celebrating 50 Years of Outstanding Customer Service." For young audiences, invite online visitors to submit photos that feature your products or services and let them vote for their favorites.

Social media sites offer more marketing potential. For example, add the anniversary date on the company Facebook page by clicking the "event/milestone" link. Post a daily tidbit of information with visuals or videos on your Facebook page and encourage readers to share and like. Use Twitter to send a series of interesting facts from the company's history to engage followers. Consider creating a special hashtag for the anniversary event and promoting it on all social media sites.