The words ‘annual report time’ have the capability to fill a Marketing or Brand Manager with dread. Annual reports are mandatory for many organisations and have earned the unfair reputation of being ‘a chore’, ‘data driven’ or just plain ‘un-sexy’, but they needn’t be.
In actual fact, an annual report is an organisation’s most powerful marketing tool, and when strategically created, they provide the rare opportunity to tell a convincing story.
When published, an annual report is viewed by many stakeholders. From shareholders to employees, to potential employees and even the general public. While each audience sector may read the report for different reasons, they’re all absorbing key information. A well crafted annual report will peel back the curtain, bring the audience into the company, and make them feel excited about what the organisation is doing.
Strategic storytelling tactics such as brand colours, illustrations, video and photography will prompt the audience to emotionally connect with the annual report, and in-turn, the organisation.
Visuals aside, there are three more powerful ways to tell a company story through an annual report.
1) Build a story grounded in data
Disclosing financials is traditionally an annual report's purpose, but an organisation is usually sitting on a gold-mine of data that is also relevant to the readers.
By building a story grounded in data, an organisation can show people the work that they are doing, where the money is going, and how it is translating into results. This level of transparency cultivates trust and confidence in your business, no matter who’s reading your report.
2) Show the personalities that contribute to the organisational personality
No one wants to interact with a nebulous organisation. The most read annual reports celebrate and acknowledge the humans behind the brand, the ones who sweat and celebrate, and the ones who produce the best work (as proven by the data) to receive the best results.
An organisation’s greatest asset is its people, and if an organisation can show that their people are valued in their annual report, it will make the audience feel emotionally connected to the faces behind the brand.
3) Make people excited about the future
An annual report shouldn’t just be a summary of the year, it needs to lay the foundations for what is ahead, and explain the purpose of what was achieved.
Projections and planning stories in an annual report should promote enthusiasm and excitement, which will build trust in the future and show stakeholders that their investments are worthwhile, and remind staff that their work is worthwhile, celebrated and has a purpose.
These three principles for annual report design will help to create an annual report that informs, inspires, and engages your current – and future – stakeholders.
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