5 ways to make your Annual Report stand out

Sick of the typical Annual Report stigma? In the design-led corporate context we live in today, having groundbreaking results means nothing if they are not communicated in a dynamic and engaging way.

Innovative companies are embracing their Annual Report as an asset; with elevated design and a new, reader-first attitude. It’s time for your Annual Report to evolve beyond mere facts and figures to something that creates meaningful connections with readers.

Are you ready to harness the marketing power of your Annual Report? Here are our top tips for building a publication that will leave a lasting impression for all the right reasons.

1. Tell a story

Creating an impactful and engaging piece of writing begins with storytelling, even in the case of an Annual Report.

Storytelling can be woven into your Annual Report in a number of ways; including exciting report headings, taglines, bright graphics, intricate imagery, and a report theme.

Introducing a theme into your Annual Report is a simple, yet effective storytelling technique that will allow your brand to engage and captivate readers. Thematic influences within your report will help stakeholders connect meaningfully with your content, ensuring that their attention is held throughout the entirety of your report and ensuring they will consume as much as possible to see how the story plays out.

Tip: Remember that the purpose of your Annual Report is to report on your activities and results for the past year; use this to take your stakeholders on a journey and celebrate everything that’s happened in the last 12 months while creating excitement for the future.

Think outside of the box with your story or theme.

Here is an example from one of our clients Wire, who wanted their publication to reflect a women’s magazine:

WIRE annual report

2. Use infographics

Did you know that an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a pure-text article? Put that statistic in the context of a dull, lengthy Annual Report and the argument for infographics is unparalleled.

Infographics not only look dynamic and engaging, but are used as a tool to draw attention to your most important information; which has a tendency to get lost in large scale publications. They are paramount to engagement levels within any publication and play a large role in communicating key facts and figures.

Infographics have the ability to transform an Annual Report and provide a design edge to a publication.

Check out some of our favourite client examples below:

Health Workforce Queensland:

Health Workforce Queensland annual report

Banking Code Compliance Monitoring Committee:

Banking Code Compliance Monitoring Committee annual report

3. Champion your employees

Featuring your employees within the media of your Annual Report can have a resounding human effect on your publication. Annual Reports frequently come across as corporate and robotic in their nature due to the regulations and traditional mindset of reporting.

However, your employees can act as a powerful device for cutting through the ‘corporate requirement’ by showcasing the people who make your business move.

Take advantage of board features, quotes and full-page feature imagery to integrate employee imagery and humanise your brand.

Here’s another example of one of our favourite Annual Reports from Wire that champions their staff.

Wire annual report

4. Harness design power

Who said Annual Reports had to be stock-standard, by-the-book copies? Your report is restrained by some very obvious content guidelines and limitations, however there is a world of possibility when it comes to your design that will completely transform the reading experience.

Particularly when you engage a team of graphic designers - hey, did we mention we have an incredibly talented about here at Thirst Creative? - your Annual Report can become a unique branding tool that supports a greater message, has a dramatic impact on readers and stakeholders and most importantly, stands out from the crowd.

Our all-time favourite example? The Austria Solar Annual Report that was literally powered by the sun.

It is important to remember that unlimited resources are not the key to a well-designed and innovative report. Sometimes the simple act of introducing a more impactful, or in this case sustainable, cover for your report is all that your business needs to highlight its point of difference - just like the sustainable cover used in the award-winning O’Right Corporate Sustainability report.

Looking for more Annual Report design best practice? Check out our blog for some Annual Report design inspiration!

Tip: When you’re thinking about your next Annual Report consider how you will distribute it. If you’re getting it printed, what paper stock or format could you use to stand out? Try printing on recycled paper to help reduce your carbon footprint.

5. Choose the right media

Not only have the standards of Annual Reports changed over the years, but so have the way we consume them. In the digitally charged world we live in today, accessibility is everything. The development and mainstream adoption of the digital Annual Report has been an incredible step forward in readability and user experience for publications - and there’s no doubt why so many businesses have been quick to adapt to multi-format Annual Report strategies.

Although print media will always be a quintessential Annual Report medium, digital publications are quickly proving their worth as a valuable investment. As discussed within our ‘Annual Reports: Creating a digital experience’ blog, digital reports are more accessible; not only can they can be viewed on a number of devices at any time, but they can adhere to accessibility standards, allowing the report to be readable and usable for a broader audience.

They also allow you to repurpose content in an existing digital format, facilitating the creation of a fully-fledged additional content library for your business to recycle!

Finally, digital Annual Reports are also a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional print options; allowing you to save the planet whilst simultaneously saving your business extended print costs - it’s a win/win!

The options truly are endless. But why choose just one? The most comprehensive Annual Report strategies are those which combine the benefits of both print and digital media by producing an Annual Report that is available in both formats.

Just like the award-winning Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Annual Report we produced!

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Annual Report
Tip: After you have completed your Annual Report don’t forget to consider how you’ll promote it. It’s important to tell your story to your stakeholders but also consider the wider audience from media and government through to future employees and investors. PR can be a great way to generate some buzz for your next publication.

Need help crafting an Annual Report?

As a full-service marketing, digital and design agency we specialise in, and have years of experience, producing both print and digital Annual Reports.

With over a decade in the industry, we can help you deliver your Annual Report project from all aspects, including design, strategy, content (written, photographic, infographics, video etc.), creating a digital microsite and even promoting and marketing the report around it’s release.

If you are ready to take your Annual Report to the next level and produce a branding asset that will get your business noticed, enquire about our design packages today.