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How to Write a Company History

Judy Artunian

A well-written company history can entice prospective customers, investors and employees

The story of your company’s evolution may seem ho-hum to you, but it can play an important role in building trust and respect. Every company has been shaped by moments of inspiration, perseverance, courage, or dumb luck.

Your company history should feature the most compelling of those stories, along with significant achievements such as patents and major contract wins. Include your history in your business plan and employee handbook, and on your Web site’s “About Us” page. Some companies also turn their corporate story into a book that is presented to employees and others on special occasions. The message behind your corporate milestones can even become the cornerstone of your brand.

What should your company history include?

  1. Why your company was started.
  2. A brief profile of the founders.
  3. Major turning points in your company’s life.
  4. Amusing and inspirational events that have occurred along the way.

Read other company histories

Get inspired by seeing how other companies have recounted their background. Microsoft tells its multi-faceted success story with a series of articles that recount some of the company’s most noteworthy achievements over the last decade.

Dig for industry and company highlights

Did you make a mark on your industry with a breakthrough product or a new twist on an old concept? Explain your company’s achievements in the context of your industry’s history.

Elicit memories

Nothing brings history to life better than anecdotes from employees and customers who were there when your company took its first baby steps. Ask these folks if you can interview them about their experiences.

Create a timeline

Once you have gathered your historical facts, get your bearings on what happened when by recording each event on a timeline.

Consult corporate history professionals

If you prefer, hire a professional to research and write your history.

Picture it

Use photos to illustrate your company’s history. Dig out those snapshots of the founders in their 1980s garb. Shoot your own photos of today’s employees while they work. While you’re at it, take photos of historic documents and other corporate artifacts.

  • Unless you plan to publish a book about your company, don’t let your story get bogged down with too much detail. Focus on your major achievements and add interesting anecdotes from employees and customers where you can.
  • Think of your company history as a marketing tool. Be honest about how your company got to where it is, but don’t include failed product launches and other less-than-flattering events unless you can tie them to later success.
  • Give readers a sense of your corporate culture. Ask employees if they have a special fondness for certain company traditions. Look back at how you have celebrated your company’s birthdays and other special occasions.
  • Keep a record of where you found each piece of information that you expect to include in your history. You’ll need to refer back to these sources while you’re writing.
  • Your company’s story doesn’t end when you have completed your corporate history project. Maintain a file of significant events so that as your company grows, you can update its story.
Image Credit: Undrey/Shutterstock
Judy Artunian