What’s your iconic corporate history image?

"We Keep Life Flowing" is powerfully conveyed by the cover of the American Water history, published by CorporateHistory.net.

Can a single central image tell your corporate story? That’s the key question CorporateHistory.net asks when we create covers and home pages for clients’ business anniversary books and history timelines.

Our guiding principle is that the anniversary image should convey what the organization does – doing it warmly, at a glance, and without need for written explanation. That’s good visual corporate storytelling. Companies typically go in one of four directions:

1. Show the founder. When you’re chronicling The Pep Boys, how can you not show Manny, Moe & Jack? But unless your founder is as famously photogenic, you’re better off looking for a different image.

One exception: If your book and website are strictly for internal use, then show the founder even if he’s not publicly well-known. It helps greatly if you catch him or her in an expressive pose. That approach worked for a New York State charitable foundation whose book we created, which had a strong image of the founder tipping his hat to the community.

2. Show the headquarters or key buildings. This was a winning approach for Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply, seen here, whose main building and line-up of sparkling clean trucks were perfect symbols. Alternative: If your logo is strong, consider it by itself. That worked for BAYADA Home Health Care … and we’re proud to say the book won a Graphic Design USA award!

3. Show one or two strong historical images, maybe as a “then and now.” Consider this if your organization boasts a few gray hairs, i.e., is old enough to have a strong photo that is clearly antique in relation to today. You might want to add a modern-day equivalent, as we did for our Dominion Energy centennial corporate history book, which features a rural electrification lineman of the 1930s juxtaposed with a current worker, and our work for American Water (featured at the top of this blog post), which features workers from the early 1900s to today, along with a new headquarters.

4. Show signature services, products or people served. For The Clorox Company history written by CorporateHistory.net’s president, showing the iconic bottle of Clorox(R) liquid bleach was a natural. Ditto: metal products from the six business lines of Sandvik USA; a broom to symbolize the first product of The Libman Company; the smiling faces of individuals at Clinton County ARC (which also included some historical photos and was designed to match the client’s website), Melwood Horticultural Training Center, and Superior Linen Service.