The History Factory is known for producing award-winning and nationally-recognized company history books and other publications. And while corporate histories and commemorative books are great showpieces for just about any organization (we could talk all day about how they cement a company’s legacy and provide an official and authorized historical record, not to mention make fantastic corporate anniversary gifts), the business case behind producing a corporate history really needs to be considered before giving the green light on such a significant undertaking.

There is a very important place for corporate history books in the context of heritage management. Here are just a few reasons why a company should consider producing a publication:

  1. To create a definitive written history. Nothing is more authoritative than a well-researched commemorative history or book. A publication serves as your official history and handy reference guide for employees, investors, customers and other stakeholders.
  2. To bring your history up to date.  Mergers and acquisitions, international expansion, major new products – a lot has changed since that history of one of your divisions was written 20 years ago. You’re not the same company you used to be. Your story needs to reflect where you are today, and where you are headed.
  3. To commemorate a major company anniversary or milestone. The very nature of a milestone or business anniversary gives you the opportunity to put your history to use as your organization reflects on where it’s been in the context of where it is going. Authentic corporate expressions of values resonate over time and help a company with a proud heritage differentiate itself from the Johnny-come-lately competition.
  4. To leverage a pivotal moment in your evolution. History is made every day, and documenting transforming events while they are still fresh in everyone’s mind creates an incredibly valuable knowledge management tool and cultural lodestone for the future. We worked with one client to document the boost to its esprit de corps as the company fought off a hostile takeover attempt. The fighting spirit sparked by this defining event transformed the leadership team’s strategic approach and set them on an accelerated growth trajectory.

There are countless other strategic reasons why an organization might produce a company history book. Sometimes it comes down to the CEO simply wanting a commemorative history book, and when that’s the case, it will get done. But remember, just because there’s a story to tell doesn’t mean it needs to be done in a book – there are a number of ways to accomplish good storytelling using methods that can sometimes provide more flexibility and reach than a book. What’s important to keep in mind as your company considers producing a corporate history publication is whether it makes sense in the context of your strategic goals and objectives, and if it will support the organization in other ways than looking good on a coffee table.