When we think of organizational charts, what often comes to mind is the top-down, pyramid-like organizational chart of large companies.
I’m sure you’ve all seen something like this before:
Of course, this is just one type of business organizational chart that exists today for organizations big and small.
Even if organizations share business models, industries, and sizes — organizational charts can differ.
That’s because a structure that works for one organization may not work for another.
Through design, organizational charts make a statement of an organization’s beliefs, values, culture, and philosophies.
So which organizational chart design best represents your brand and organization? And how can you actually create one? That’s what I’ll help you figure out today.
I’m going to break down what business organizational charts are, share plenty of neat examples, and show you how to design your own using an Organizational Chart Maker or awesome organizational chart templates.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is an organizational chart?
- 15 organizational chart examples
- 4 types of organizational charts
- How to create an organizational chart in Venngage
What is an organizational chart?
An organizational chart is a visual representation of a company’s internal structure. Also known as organograms or org charts, these assets show how teams and departments are organized, showcase relationships across an organization, and each individual’s role and responsibilities.
Here’s an example of an organizational chart:
Just so you know, some of our templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.
What is the main purpose of an organizational chart?
An up-to-date organizational chart serves several important functions.
This infographic highlights the five benefits of an organizational chart:
- Shows who is responsible for decision-making
- Allows everyone to understand the chain of command
- Allows employees to get to know each other
- Makes it easy to visualize changes
- Highlights a brand’s values and culture
Let’s take a closer look at each of the benefits:
- An organizational chart helps potential investors/shareholders understand who is steering the ship
With an organizational chart, investors can easily see who is in the leadership team and the talent, skill and experience powering an organization. Thus, an org chart is a great way to reassure stakeholders that a business is in good hands.
- An organizational chart helps the entire organization understand the chain of command
From process flows, approval flows, and other types of decisions, a business organizational chart helps everyone understand the processes (really, the logic) behind them. A clear organizational chart is almost necessary for every employee onboarding process.
- An organizational chart helps new hires get to know fellow employees
An org chart helps staff learn who owns which areas, who senior staff members are, and the types of departments that exist within the organization. More importantly, they can better understand how their own role fits into the current organizational structure.
- An organizational chart helps people understand how changes within a company impact them
As organizations grow or downsize, people are promoted, moved to different teams/departments, asked to report to new executives, and so on. An organizational chart reflects these changes in leadership, team responsibilities, and who everyone reports to.
- An organizational chart is a great way to communicate your brand
Organizational charts today are designed to demonstrate an organization’s values and philosophies. The organization’s stance on hierarchy, collaboration, inclusivity, and other concepts are visualized here.
15 organizational chart examples
Now, let’s take a look at some organizational chart examples you can use your business.
The majority of these examples feature hierarchical org charts, but you can add or delete branches to create other types of org charts as well.
Vertical smart organization chart example
This vertical corporate structure chart uses dynamic colors to differentiate the teams and their reports.
This extreme vertical format works well for smaller corporate structures or for departments within a larger organization.
Note: An organizational chart such as the one above can be easily customized in the Venngage editor. Click on the sections you want to add and the items will be duplicated so you can make edits.
When you more text, the shape automatically resizes to fit. You can also apply formatting from one shape to another or all the branches with the ‘Formatting’ button in the menu. Sign up is free!
Corporate vertical organizational chart example
This vertical organizational chart helps employees understand who they report to, who their peers report to, and the responsibilities everyone has.
Although the layout itself is minimal, the shapes and colors bring life to the design.
It looks professional, incorporates branded design, and provides something more engaging to employees.
You can also use icons to differentiate between departments in organizational chart designs. This will especially help new hires understand right away what they’re looking at.
Simple vertical organizational chart example
For a more modern look and feel, check out this alternate take on a healthcare organizational chart.
It incorporates a digitized background design and a flat color palette.
Bold vertical organization chart example
When designing your own organizational chart, it’s important to group employees together who report to the same manager/executive.
It’s up to you how you visualize those connections.
One method is to use lines and nodes for a typical layout.
Or, as in this vertical organizational chart example, you can use a legend and a varied color palette to indicate the reporting structure.
Modern vertical organizational chart example
An organizational chart can also be more than a breakdown of reporting relationships.
This organizational chart includes contact information for individual staff. This is especially helpful for new employees or when communicating across departments.
This is a memorable way to show the connections between departments and team members, and it makes a statement.
Vibrant functional smart organizational chart example
If choosing a design style for your organizational chart feels challenging, consider your organization’s brand guidelines.
It can provide you the style and color inspiration you need to get started.
Marketing organizational structure example
In this example, the organizational chart is broken down by function and it’s clear the chief marketing officer oversees the marketing department.
Blue functional organizational chart example
Another option is to apply a unique color for each department or function.
This will help whoever is reading the organizational chart find exactly what they’re looking for. Otherwise, you’ll many tables that look exactly the same and it take more time to understand.
Generally, a traditional marketing organizational structure is broken down by departments.
You have teams entirely dedicated to areas like branding, communications, and digital. It’s also important to identify teams that marketing relies on – like customer success and developers.
With the use of a vibrant color palette, you can clearly identify each department, and who belongs in each. It’s easier to scan and follow over angular lines, especially in more complex organizational structures.
This blue functional organizational chart example is broken down in a similar way. The layout is just set to landscape and reads from left to right.
Notice how this organizational chart design makes use of employee headshots?
That’s especially helpful to new employees.
With the rise of remote work and remote employee onboarding, we may not always share an office or break room with fellow co-workers so headshots in a organizational chart is a simple way to help folks get acquainted.
Vertical organizational chart examples
A vertical organizational chart, or hierarchical chart, is the traditional org chart we see in many organizations.
The layout positions the CEO at the top, with those report directly below, and so on.
The goal of a vertical organizational chart is to present reporting relationships between employees.
Here’s an example vertical corporate structure chart for Apple. You can see it’s a very typical hierarchical chart with lots of layers of leadership.
It’s clear who reports to whom in upper-management at a glance.
Companies like Apple also have unique roles such as the Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives executive, or the Apple University Dean.
Plotting these types of roles in a business organizational chart is essential as it indicates where these roles fall in terms of hierarchy, who they answer to, and what their responsibilities are.
Another aspect of a vertical organizational chart are the organizational functions. This is often referred to as a functional organizational chart.
Inbound marketing organizational structure example
In a presentation by Hubspot on creating agile teams, they shared a breakdown of how their (powerhouse) marketing department is structured.
The breakdown is by specific functions/objectives, channels, and relevant metrics.
You’ll also notice that there is no clear reporting structure because the objective of this chart design is to highlight how the marketing team operates.
This is what a functional organizational chart can look like within a department.
The functions are defined as teams and channels. Your own organizational chart design will probably look different since it depends on the types of channels your marketing team is divided into.
Vertical divisional organizational chart example
This divisional organizational chart is broken down into its separate business areas of focus.
This type of organizational structure applies to larger organizations with divisions that are geographical, product-focused, industry-focused, market-focused or anything along those lines.
You’ll see that each division has its own marketing team, sales team, and services team and they operate independently of one another and have all the same functions.
Horizontal organizational chart examples
The horizontal organizational chart, or flat organizational chart, is for organizations with little to no middle management or supervisory roles.
Simple horizontal organization chart example
Flat organizational structures can share the same layout as vertical organizational structures, but there are fewer executive and managerial levels.
The horizontal organizational chart example above also uses a landscape orientation.
This helps to emphasize the lack of hierarchical tiers and the extended role of management. While it is just a design choice, it communicates how the organization is structured at a glance.
Valve, the popular video-game developer, is proud of the flat organizational structure they’ve built.
Here’s how they visualize their organizational structure in their employee handbook. They include a few quips as well.
This is a fun way to understand Valve’s views on hierarchy, structure and collaboration. It’s clear there is a level of camaraderie and togetherness they aspire for.
It’s also a great example of presenting an organization’s brand and culture through documentation.
Rather than just a flat organizational structure with minimal hierarchy, Valve aspires for a completely collaborative organization with no hierarchy at all.
Within a horizontal organizational structure, managers will have a higher set of responsibilities, and more direct reports than a typical manager.
This means a marketing manager may have designers, product people, support staff and others who don’t necessarily fall into “marketing” as reports, too.
Lean marketing organizational structure example
Github has a lean marketing organizational structure.
The VP oversees many areas, but they are not layered with upper and middle management. Instead, the teams are small and collaborative.
It’s always helpful to mimic your organizational structure in the design of your organizational chart. Reduce the number of tiers and group teams together in the way that makes the most sense.
In Github’s lean marketing structure, you can see where responsibilities overlap, those teams share a color code.
These color palettes can carry over into project sprints and tasks that get tracked in applications like Trello and Asana! It’s a great way to maintain consistency in all your corporate communications.
Matrix organizational structure examples
The matrix organizational chart combines traditional organizational structures.
A matrix organizational chart ties in project planning needs by pairing project managers with interdisciplinary teams.
That means the chart needs to highlight departmental or functional managers and their direct reports, as well as project managers and their reports.
Here’s a detailed look at the layout and reporting structure of a matrix organizational chart:
There is a clear vertical functional structure with functional managers lining the top row.
But project managers work with employees from each function, and so form a parallel column to the employees in each function.
In this layout, the tiny squares highlight which employee in each function reports to a project manager.
The simplest way to indicate reporting relationships here is through the use of arrows or lines, and aligning the correct staff vertically with their managers, and horizontally with their project managers.
The matrix organizational structure is necessary for large organizations that have multiple projects going on and need collaboration across departments.
Nike’s organizational structure gets a lot of praise, and it happens to be a matrix organizational structure.
Creative organizational chart examples
Many organizations experiment with the structure of their company.
Whether it’s a desire for faster decision-making, smarter experimentation, clear channels of communication, improved accountability or something else, how your organization is structured makes the difference.
Startups and major corporations alike often adopt creative organizational structures that achieve a goal.
Let’s take a look at some of these types of organizational charts.
Spotify’s organizational chart example: Tribes, squads, and guilds
Spotify, the well-known audio-streaming service, is known for its unique tribe organizational structure.
Due to its growth and success, many startups have tried to adopt the same organizational structure, or some variation of it and make it work for them.
At a glance, it may seem strange and overly complex. But the organizational structure facilitates the communication and collaboration Spotify needed (and still needs) to grow quickly and reliably.
It starts with a tribe and its tribe leads.
They lead the squads that oversee different areas of the product. Across the squads, in each tribe, you have chapters that facilitate communication between the squads, and chapter leads.
Of course, there are numerous tribes across the organization.
They work fairly independently of one another on a wide range of things that may or may not overlap.
As these individuals learn from new experiences, problems, outcomes and so on, they need to share information, tools, code, and best practices.
These folks form guilds which include members across tribes. People can also belong to multiple guilds.
Spotify’s tribal organizational structure is meant to cut down on bureaucracy, which naturally builds as a company grows to hundreds or thousands of staff.
This way Spotify can still collaborate effectively as an organization, deliver projects sooner, implement changes faster, grow better, and behave in a far more responsive manner.
You can also see from the way the organizational charts are arranged, there is an emphasis on fluidity within the structure, rather than rigidity.
Zappos organizational chart example: Holacratic organizational structure
Zappos is an online shoe and clothing retailer. They’re also known for having a unique culture and organizational structure.
They share insights on their approach to structure on Zappos Insights. This includes the fact that they are a holacracy.
A holacracy has a decentralized leadership, rather than one concentrated in an individual or handful of people.
It aims to distribute power typically reserved to executives across an organization to all employees.
It rejects the notion of hierarchy completely. The benefit is that it enables regular staffers to put forth ideas, collaborate with other employees, and work with minimal restrictions.
Here’s an example of what a holacratic organizational chart looks like:
You can see right away there aren’t any lines, columns or rows like in the previous organizational chart examples.
Employees belong in a space that is shared, brought together in areas of specific functions and tasks.
A complete holacratic organizational chart would be a cluster of super-circles representing departments or functions, with smaller groups of circles for specific areas.
What are the 4 different types of organizational charts?
To best visualize org structure and communicate your company’s chain of command, you can create an organizational chart for any of these four types of organizational structures: vertical (or hierarchical), horizontal (or flat), matrix, and creative.
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
Vertical organizational chart (hierarchical organizational chart)
This is the most common type of organizational chart.
A vertical — or hierarchical — organizational chart has the person with the most power at the top and those with less power underneath, and when combined, it forms a pyramid shape.
Here’s an example of a hierarchical organizational chart:
Horizontal organizational chart (flat organizational chart)
The horizontal org chart (or flat org chart) visualizes an organizational structure with little or no level of middle management.
This means it contains only two levels: the top administrators and the workers.
Here’s an example of a flat organizational chart:
Matrix organizational chart
The matrix organizational chart combines vertical and horizontal organizational structures.
It integrates a top-down vertical organizational structure that highlights reporting relationships with the flexibility of a flat organizational structure where cross-department teams report to project managers.
Here’s an example of a matrix organizational chart:
Creative organizational chart
The creative organizational chart applies to organizations with unconventional structures like Spotify (tribes, squads, guides) or Zappos (Holacratic organizational structure).
How to create an organizational chart in Venngage
As an online visual communication tool, creating any type of organizational chart can be done in minutes.
It’s not a trial and doesn’t require any payment info.
Next, head over to our organizational chart templates and choose a template that looks appealing to you.
Then, in the editor, access neat features to customize your organizational chart design.
Apply your branding, add organizational sections and levels, upload employee headshots, and include a range of icons for an engaging design.
With Venngage’s Smart diagrams, you can edit, add and duplicate sections of your organizational chart with the click of a button.
You can also change the formatting to your brand colors and apply the same to any or all shapes in the diagram.
When choosing color palettes or fonts, keep accessible design principles in mind.
You want an organizational chart that anyone can read and comprehend with ease.
Get started with Venngage for Business
Creating an organizational chart may just be the latest in your visual communication needs. To align and organize your teams through visuals more effectively, check out Venngage for Business.
- Easily design organizational charts, infographics, presentations, data visuals, and so much more
- Apply consistent, professional branding to your designs with My Brand Kit
- Collaborate on designs with your team members
- Receive design consultations from expert in-house designers
- Get 24-hour priority support as a business member and more!
Frequently asked questions
Do small businesses need organizational charts?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. When organizations are just getting started, or fairly small, there is a tendency to share the load across team members. However, it can lead to a lack of clarity about who owns what areas, what everyone’s individual responsibilities are, and how to measure individual performance.
In small organizations, a defined corporate structure chart highlights everyone’s key responsibilities, holds them accountable, and allows them to manage their workload without burning out.
For additional resources for planning and organizing your teams or even company, check out these blog posts!