Annual reports can be much more than a document with dull statistics and financials. Tell a story to connect with your audience and win industry awards.
A theme for your annual report strengthens your key messaging and creates impact beyond just words.
A theme can make a bold statement and deliver significant impact. It should also align with your objectives and relate to your key achievements.
A theme is used in traditional literature to tell a story and communicate meaning. It adds meaning to your annual report.
A centralised theme will make your report stronger and more consistent. However, the theme does not need to be painted out in bolded capital letters or as the title of your report.
To connect and engage your audience, your annual report should tell the story behind who you are helping and how you are creating a positive impact on the world.
Annual reports provide an opportunity to look towards the future. They communicate the intention of where the organisation is heading.
Annual reports are a prime opportunity to highlight your organisation’s key results from the year that was and can be much more than your standard text heavy document loaded with dull statistics and financials. A key trend in the annual report world is to make your report an asset that remains memorable in the minds of your stakeholders and markets your brand beyond those who are purely interested in your financial performance.
So just how do you transform your report into an outstanding publication that connects with your audience and wins industry awards?
The answer is surprisingly simple. Tell a story.
And how do you tell a captivating and compelling story? With a powerful underlying theme of course.
Choosing a theme for your annual report has the potential to dramatically transform your publication. Aligning your theme with significant events, milestones and objectives that were achieved in the year strengthens your key messaging and turns a once dull report into a captivating communications asset that resonates with it’s readers.
By executing and carrying this theme through all aspects of your annual report (visuals, copywriting, layout and digital versions) you set yourself up to create impact beyond just words.
Here are 6 of the most significant benefits of using a theme for your report:
A theme can make a bold statement and deliver significant impact. The most important questions to ask yourself as you begin to think about and brainstorm creative concepts, is whether the theme of choice will deliver the impact you intend.
Does this theme have the capacity to talk to the emotional side of the brain and resonate with your audience? Does it carry a strong message? Does it align with your objectives and relate to your key achievements? If the answer is yes, then it is likely to help you achieve the results you are after.
Themes have always been used in traditional literature, to tell a story and communicate meaning. Having a theme for your annual report effectively centralises your key achievements and creates a logical order to sharing them. You start to build a story which people can engage with and clearly understand. It adds meaning to your report beyond financials and statistics.
The written content of your report will also become stronger and more consistent when you choose a centralised theme. A theme can inspire the language that you use, your tone, your choice of headings, image captions and quotes you want to use.
However it is important to note that your theme does not need to be painted out in bolded capital letters or as the title of your report. Often a more subtle and fluid approach will work best - subtly weave your theme throughout your report so that your reader begins to feel something and connect with what you are presenting in the way that you intend.
A goal of your annual report should be to connect and engage your audience. To do this successfully, It’s important to remember that your audience are human! Your readers have limited attention spans and don’t always respond well to long-winded slabs of text, confusing looking tables of data or figures that are too hard to interpret.
Your audience will appreciate transparency - this means that they want to know more than just how you are performing and what you are doing. They want to know the story behind who you’re are helping and how your organisation is creating a positive impact on the world.
Think about using a theme that conveys the humanity of your organisation. Highlight your core values, showcase your people and focus on any activities that demonstrate social responsibility.
Annual reports are much more than just reporting facts from the past year. Your annual report provides you with an opportunity to look towards the future and focus on the objectives that your organisation wants to achieve in the coming years. A theme can communicate and set the intention of where your organisation is heading.
A theme presents the opportunity for you to showcase your annual report in new and unique ways, especially when it comes to the numbers, stats and figures you are required to include.
The innovation angle is especially true when it comes to digital annual reports. A theme on digital can be beautifully executed and even brought to life. From subtle movements and themed pop-ups, to videos and data visualisations, your theme can lead the digital strategy for your online annual report.
By choosing an annual Report theme, you do your internal team a favour. You can clarify a direction for the content you include, the images you share, the colour you use and even the way you go about promoting your report to the media.
A strong theme is often one that makes a powerful underlying statement. One that represents a core idea or value.
It can be quite a challenge to develop a theme for your annual report but there are plenty of things you can look to for inspiration, including:
Now that you have done the hard work to pinpoint your theme, you need to consider how you will go about communicating your theme visually. This is where the fun begins and through the power of design you can really bring out the strength of your theme.
When it comes to visual communications, consistency is key. It’s important to look at every visual element and ensure it is designed in a way that contributes to your story and brings your theme to life for the readers eye.
The key visual elements to convey your theme and communicate a clear message include:
If you’re still after further annual report inspiration and would like to view some publications that our team have executed in the past, check out the case studies below: