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Continue reading to learn what a company history is, the importance of company history, what to include when writing your company history and strong examples of existing company histories.
What Is a Company History?
Your company history is an overview of how and why the organization was founded, the values that it was founded on, key events that shaped the company, and other notable events in the organization’s past.
A company’s history isn’t just a timeline of events since the organization’s inception, but a compelling display of the characteristics and values that define it. This information will be included in the onboarding packet you share with your new hires to get them excited about working at your company and create a sense of pride in how far you’ve come. This document, along with many others that are included in your onboarding packet, can get messy very quickly, especially if your company is growing quickly. If this is the case, we recommend using an all-in-one HR software like Eddy to keep all of your documents organized and digitized. Request a demo today to see if Eddy People is a good fit for you!
The Importance of a Company History
Company history plays a major role in establishing the core values and culture of your organization. Your company history is also important for:
- Understanding the challenges the company has overcome. The challenges that the company has overcome likely shape the trajectory of your organization within the market and define the characteristics of successful employees within the business.
- Creating a roadmap for future success in your organization. Discovering what qualities and values have led to success in the past can help shape the decisions and strategy for future success.
- Increasing pride and enthusiasm in the workplace. Creating a compelling narrative that highlights what sets your company apart from others can help your employees gain a sense of pride and enthusiasm in being part of a unique team.
- Leveraging an additional marketing asset. Your company history can be used as a marketing asset to attract candidates in recruiting and promote your brand to consumers.
What To Include in Your Company History
Every company has a unique story. What is important to include in your company history depends on the specific circumstance. In general, you should include:
- Why your company was formed. The “why” is often what your organizational values and mission are based on. It explains the problem that existed and the strategic steps your company took to solve it.
- An overview of the founders. Providing brief biographies of the founders gives your organization character and sets the timeline for the foundation of the company.
- Values the company was founded on. Clearly emphasizing the values that the company was founded on helps establish your organization’s brand and define what you’re looking for in potential employees.
- Key events in the company’s existence. Landmark events that altered the trajectory of your organization and set the company up for success should be the bulk of your company history.
- Other notable company events. Outside of key events, any notable event that exemplifies the organizational culture or values should be included in your company history.
How to Write Your Company’s History
The elements to include in your company history will help kickstart the brainstorming process. Follow the steps below to create an informative, compelling company history for your organization.
1. Research Competitor Company Histories
To get a better idea of what your finished result should look like, research and analyze competitor company history resources. They can help inform what type of events you need to research within your company and provide inspiration for how to design your final product.
2. Review How The Company Was Founded
After gathering some inspiration from competitors, you need to review how your company was founded. Reach out to executives and leadership to get a consistent story about how the organization was founded.
3. Identify Key Milestones and Events
With your foundation established, start piecing together the events that took your company from its inception to its current status in the market. Some key milestones and events may include the invention of new products, acquisitions and mergers, important executives, and charitable contributions.
4. Interview Key Stakeholders and Tenured Employees
To get a firsthand perspective of your company’s culture and history, you can interview the people who lived through it. Try to elicit memories you can include in your company history to emphasize how company values have impacted current employees.
5. Organize Events Into a Timeline
Equipped with the events that have contributed to your company’s history, you can start to organize it into a chronological timeline. Once you have all of the events organized into a timeline, you can decide which ones are the most important and center your company history around them.
6. Consult with a History Professional or Writer
While you can try to write your company history by yourself, consulting with a history professional or a writer can take the company’s story to the next level. The most effective company history resources are carefully crafted into compelling narratives. Contracting work to a professional writer can take your timeline and turn it into a next-level company history asset.
7. Design a Compelling Virtual Company History
The final step in creating your company history is to take the crafted narrative and turn it into a compelling asset. Incorporate images and video to make your company history interactive and engaging.
You can create several versions of your company history to cover a wide range of mediums, including written content, videos, and interactive timelines. You can consider contracting work to a graphic design professional who can help create a one-of-a-kind company history asset.
Where to Include Your Company History
Once you’ve put time into writing a compelling company history, you want to make sure people see it. To maximize the value of your company history for recruiting and boosting employee enthusiasm, you’ll need to include it in the right places. Here are some ideas:
- Company website. Because the company website is the first place that most people will go to learn more about your business, it’s helpful to include the company history here. Many companies will include their history under the “About Us” page. If you want to go into more depth, you may have a page dedicated to a more detailed company history. Wherever you choose to include your history, HR professional Sarah Marchese recommends linking to it from the careers page with a statement like “Read our history here!” This will ensure that prospective employees get excited about what your organization stands for.
- Employee handbook. Putting the company history in the employee handbook allows everyone to access it easily when they want to. The stories and events you include in the history can help staff see the organization’s mission, vision, and values in action.
- Annual report. Including a company history as part of your annual report is a great way to help stakeholders understand where your business has been and where it hopes to go. It can provide helpful context for more recent developments.
- Job listings. While you probably don’t want to include your entire company history on job posts, it can be helpful to include a brief overview. Just a few sentences will get job seekers excited about how far your company has come—and the potential it has to grow even more.
- New hire orientation. Letting new hires know about your company’s history is a great way to build their enthusiasm on their first day at work.
Examples of Company Histories
Your company history should be unique to the organization and stand out among competitors. While there is no standard template, here are a few examples of companies with well-constructed company history resources.
Starbucks paints its company history like a story, vividly describing “the cobblestone streets of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market” where the coffee chain was founded. Though they keep it brief, Starbucks creates a precise timeline of the events that shaped its history in a creative, compelling narrative.
Known for their visually pleasing commercials and print ads, Adidas’s company history leverages imagery to support their words. A mix of pictures, logos, charts, tables, and graphs provides a visual history to accompany their well-crafted narrative.
The company history for Toms shoes is centered around their organizational values: improving the lives of others. Toms highlights how its founder established the One for One business model, where one pair of shoes was donated to underdeveloped countries for each purchase.
Not only does their history highlight the grassroots beliefs upon which the company was founded, it also serves as a recruitment tool to attract potential candidates who possess those values.
Warby Parker’s company history highlights a common issue that they solved in a unique fashion: expensive glasses. The designer eyewear provider describes an event where one of the founders lost their glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford a replacement.
Their history explains how they circumvented traditional channels to provide high-quality, affordable eyewear using qualities that would become the company’s core value and culture.
Now that you understand how to write and portray your company history, request a demo of Eddy People to see how we can simplify and organize your entire onboarding process. We’d love to show you how easy hiring and onboarding new employees can really be.
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