As we slowly edge to the end of 2020 (cue a collective sigh of relief!) it’s time to start thinking about your company’s Annual Report Design– and no, it’s not too soon.
Annual Reports in the past may have been viewed as a less-than-thrilling statutory obligation, and something companies produced out of sheer necessity, however in recent years that old-school assumption has changed. Annual Reports are now, thanks to technology and this era of liking, sharing and reacting, a powerful tool that allows readers to connect with and understand a brand emotionally. A well-designed, strategic Annual Report gives your company the ability to turn what was once a chore into an incredible marketing tool, one that has the potential to be shared by thousands of people online while at the same time building trust and forging strong relationships with shareholders, potential investors, employees and competitors.
Annual Reports are a staple in our studio, so one of the most significant shifts to happen to report design over the past 20 years is the transition from being purely static data with static editorial usually in printed or PDF format, to dynamic and engaging, interactive online pieces. New technology has allowed for online reports to communicate data in a way that is a compelling customer journey as opposed to a dry experience of wading through statistics and data and there is the bonus of being able to incorporate metrics into your report document to track and measure your reader’s behaviour and experience. There is also the fact that readers are using mobile devices more and more to absorb content, which means much of your audience will be lost with an unresponsive PDF format.
With the above in mind, there are 5 points to keep in mind when approaching your Annual Report:
1. Give background to your company
Show your company’s true personality, let the real people and behind-the-scenes stories that often hide behind the walls of professionalism, shine through. Tell your brand’s story the way you want it to be told with an emphasis on the path the company has taken to get to where it is today. Don’t be afraid to make people smile and chuckle a little, along the way, injecting humour into a commonly dull type of report can be a great way to spark a connection with your reader.
2. Explain data with dynamic infographics, icons and data.
Take advantage of both technology and visuals, let them bring context to statistics and a sense of playfulness to your company. Using icons, pictograms, infographics, and different types of charts can reduce repetition, helping your reader absorb information while also breaking up the pages into bite-sized chunks. It would help if you made it easy for viewers to click through to external webpages and online references as well as allowing them to share the report on all social platforms, further increasing your reach. It’s also a great idea to organise your content and include colour-coded navigation which groups individual sections inside the report, helping the reader keep track of where they are. Technology will allow for an online report to feature videos, animated statistics, dynamic visual effects and interactive elements. It will be far easier to capture and retain your reader’s attention with a dynamic content experience. There is also the benefit of being able to update your report in real-time if it is online, which means you will have the most updated version accessible to readers at all times.
3. Communicate success
Make clear the impact the company has had in the past year, highlighting achievements big and small – mostly ethical, environmental and community initiatives and milestones. You should not be afraid of celebrating or over-promoting these areas, just be sure to establish an authentic connection early on in the report, don’t exaggerate and be honest.
4. Accountability, sustainability and strategic vision
Above all else your Annual Report needs to be genuine, highlighting your values and your vision, not only for your company but for your staff, customers and your community. An Annual Report communicates a company’s strategy while at the same time reinforcing its values, successes and ethics, so it is crucial that the report accurately reflects the company and any causes the company believes in.
5. Stick to one key theme
Think outside of the box. Annual Reports don’t have to be pages upon pages of words that put you to sleep somewhere in the middle. Brighten it up with more white space and exciting graphics that convey vital information – find creative ways to communicate your message. An interactive website, an app or a book in an unusual shape – the opportunities are endless! However, it is essential that whatever it is you decide to do, pick a theme that works for your brand and stick to it, be consistent, make sure each page relates to the next and ensure people aren’t going to get lost or overwhelmed too quickly.
It’s time to start thinking about what your next Annual Report can do for your brand and how you’re going to make it happen. To learn more about how we can add impact to your next Annual Report contact Fresco Creative on (02) 8116 9032 alternatively you can browse our website for examples of previous Annual Reports we have created.
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