A great annual report is a necessity for public companies. An annual report can no longer be a boring, bland report that is done every year because a company is legally obliged to do so.
An annual report is a huge marketing opportunity to show an organization’s identity and brand. The best annual reports help investors and other readers keep the company in mind long after they finish reading it. A great report can boost shareholder confidence and can cause more investors to gravitate towards your company.
There are many important design factors to consider when putting together an annual report. These factors include but are not limited to the: cover, paper type, binding, chart/graphs, and typography. Everything that goes into your annual report is a reflection of your company. View Key Elements of an Annual Report. An annual report has to be well designed and planned in order to highlight your company in the best light possible.
Below are the top five design considerations for an annual report:
1) Graphs and Graphics
With any publication, it is important to engage your audience. A well-designed annual report will utilize charts and illustrations to communicate quickly and effectively. Use design elements to draw the reader’s eye to the information you think is most important such as milestones reached or other important objectives that your company has accomplished.
These graphics have to have a consistent theme that fits and highlights your brand. It is important to ensure that your graphics are easy to read yet are still catching. Highlighting important information in a graph or chart is useless if the reader can’t read or interpret it.
2) Conveying your Message
Readers have a limited attention span and they will only read your report for a few minutes or so. Readers do not like reading fluff and they will not be impressed with large amounts of copy or confusing vocabulary. Limiting the amount of text you use while also using powerful images will help your company make a stronger statement quickly. Use just enough copy to reflect the positioning of your company in the marketplace in a professional manner without getting too technical.
3) Company Vision
Readers value a company’s vision if it is thought out and presented well. Your whole report should reflect the company’s vision. Just having a vision and mission statement is not enough. Shareholders and readers want to know where your organization is heading and how it plans to get there. Your design should highlight: where your company is going, potential challenges, and how you plan on overcoming these challenges.
4) Measuring Performance
Identify your key performance indicators and illustrate how your company is performing. Use tables, charts, and graphs to highlight your progress and changes in figures. Most companies will highlight their performance over the past ten years (if they have been around for at least ten years).
Provide the basic financial statements such as: the consolidated balance sheet, the income statement, the statement of cash flows and the statement of shareholders. Most readers won’t want to go through every financial statement that you have and will only look at the numbers they find the most important. A large portion of the readers will pay the most attention to the balance sheet.
5) Use compelling photography
Photos are a great way to tell your company’s story. Photos are a great way to build your identity and show what your company is all about. A picture can convey a message faster than any paragraph.
Overall, it is important for an annual report to convey what the company is all about. Readers will pay a lot more attention to your report if it looks like your company put a lot of time and care into it. An engaging and well-designed annual report will not only impress your shareholders but it can also improve your brand identity.
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