Timelines are a great way to portray a company’s history. They also tend to be tediously standard and lack the context that would make them relevant, let alone interesting, for whoever they’re being presented to.
Most of them merely list when a business was founded, when it opened new offices, launched a set of products or reached various headcount milestones. Boooring! Today, we’re going through three timeline examples that look beyond listing stuff and rather focus on portraying what those milestones mean.
Pretend it’s a mood board
A timeline is essentially a straight line through a company’s history with several steps along the way. Instead of listing what those steps are, you can use images to show what they were like.
A great example of just how well these can turn out is Lois Jeans’ trip through time. They use a mix of product photography, elements of the decade they’re associated with and short wording to illustrate the feel of each decade and Lois’ place in it.
We still have that natural progression from milestone to milestone, but instead of listing a bunch of facts, the timeline introduces things we’re already familiar with, like iconic figures and concepts, and associates them with their product. They don’t need to tell us their jeans took centre stage in the 60’s, worn by influential musicians. They don’t need to tell us they’ve been successfully reinventing themselves for the modern man. The well-executed timeline does all of that for them.
Focus on products
Progressing from one milestone to another can imply focusing on setting up offices, which might make sense if you’re building the history of a construction company but if you’re not, then focusing on your products instead makes the journey through a brand’s history much more meaningful.
Considering their rich, seven-decade long history, Porsche isn’t short of options when it comes to achievements. When looking at the milestones they’ve chosen to highlight in their timeline, they’re not about who cut what ribbon where or who was named what when, it’s about their cars and how they’ve grown through the decades.
The content caters to both die-hard fans as well as casual enthusiasts and focuses their history around the legacy of their products, keeping true to their branding and identity.
Infuse it with history
Introducing someone to a company’s history is a lot like trying to describe the main points of your career in a job interview. Major changes like joining a new company or, in the case of a business, a merger, tend to be the main talking points. Very rarely do people and brands talk about the context of those milestones and how they translate into where they are today.
Webster Hall does. In this beautiful rendering of their history, they talk about how everything from political movements, the prohibition and The Great Depression to legends like Eric Clapton, Al Capone (yes, that’s him in the picture) or Guns N’Roses have contributed to the Hall’s rich history.
The technique works a lot like layering on a cake. Each popular figure, historical fact, photo and poster, adds a new dimension to the story, anchoring it into reference points, like WWII, we’re already familiar with.
The Bottom Line
Every single business, even the ones that flop, have a history. Simply listing who did what, where and when isn’t just lazy, it’s pointless as it will never differentiate a brand from every other brand who can do the exact same thing.
Thinking about what’s in it for the audience and infusing a company’s major milestones with the right context will make it relevant and believable, while showcasing how each of them has shaped the identity of the brand and, as we’ve seen, that’s much more valuable than a stark, impersonal list of dates.