What Is a Corporate History?

B. Turner

A corporate history is an electronic or written text that describes the origins and operations of a business entity. The corporate history often provides a time line covering everything from the founding of the company to events occurring in the present day. These histories serve as a valuable marketing tool for businesses, and are often used to shape public opinion about the company. They may also serve as an internal reminder about the goals and visions of the company and its founders.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

The exact composition of a corporate history can vary widely from company to company. Most include an overview of the company's founders, including how and why they launched the organization. They generally include information on key people, such as company leaders or those who introduced important products or ideas. Others cover key events in the company history, such as new products, locations, or technologies. For product-oriented organizations, the corporate history also includes a time line as to how the product has changed over the years.

Many companies also include external factors in the corporate history to illustrate how the business relates to other organizations. This may include detailing partnerships with other companies or groups, or describing how the company changed in response to historic events, legislation, or industry milestones. It also includes details of mergers, acquisitions, and sales that helped to grow or shrink the business.

One of the primary functions of the corporate history is to serve as a marketing tool for the company. Businesses may believe that these histories illustrate a shared past with consumers and suppliers. They may also help to emphasize innovations or beloved products that the company introduced throughout its past, which may give the public a favorable view of the organization. Companies may also study their own corporate history to gain insight and inspiration for new products or services that could be introduced or revived. In this way, the history may also serve as an organizational memory, or collection of data about how the company was run throughout its past.

Companies often produce a corporate history to mark a major milestone, such as an anniversary or major change. The corporation may hire a firm to prepare this history, or select a team to perform this task in-house. A corporate history may be issued as a special book or pamphlet, which can be sold or given away to employees, shareholders, stakeholders, and the public. Many companies also include a sample of their corporate history on their web page. Some innovative companies also highlight their history with museums and other visual representations of past products and achievements.

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