How to tell your story through your annual report

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 organisation, 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. You can further make your annual report stand out through powerful design strategies.

Visuals aside, there are three more powerful ways to tell a organisation story through an annual report.

3 powerful ways to tell a organisations 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. Consider incorporating employee involvement in your annual report as discussed in our article on ways to make your annual report stand out.

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.

As part of the strategic storytelling tactics mentioned earlier, we'll now delve deeper into the power of video.

Leveraging the Power of Video in Storytelling

Video has emerged as a highly effective medium to narrate compelling stories. Its power extends to annual reports as well, enabling organisations to captivate audiences and breathe life into numbers and words. This fits in well with the emerging trend of creating digital annual reports that go beyond the PDF.

1. Bringing Data to Life

Video content allows organisations to visually represent complex data in a digestible format. Animated graphs, pie charts, and data visualisations can make financial figures and metrics more interesting and easier to comprehend. By showcasing data through video, you're able to create a vivid picture of your organisation’s performance and progress, giving stakeholders a dynamic perspective that extends beyond static figures and tables.

2. Showcasing Organisational Culture

Video content offers an unparalleled platform to highlight the human element of your organisation. Through behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with team members, and insights into daily operations, video can bring out the personalities that shape your organisation's culture. This helps stakeholders feel a closer connection to the brand, fostering a deeper understanding and affinity.

3. Projecting Future Visions

With video, your organisation can effectively communicate its vision and future plans in an engaging way. A CEO’s message about future strategy, for example, becomes more personal and impactful when delivered in video format. Visual representations of upcoming projects, animated prototypes, or video tours of new facilities can foster excitement and anticipation among stakeholders about what’s to come.

4. Fostering Emotional Connection

A well-made video can evoke a range of emotions that textual or numerical data might fail to ignite. By integrating music, voiceovers, or testimonials, a video can invoke feelings that resonate with your stakeholders' experiences and expectations, thereby fostering a stronger emotional connection with your organisation.

5. Video Accessibility and Shareability

Finally, videos can be watched and understood by a diverse audience, transcending language and literacy barriers. In a digital annual report, video content can be easily shared across various digital platforms, further extending the reach of your organisation’s story.

Incorporating video into your digital annual report requires careful planning and creative execution. It's about making the most of this powerful medium to narrate your story in a way that truly resonates with your audience.

Remember, the primary goal is not just to include video for the sake of it, but to harness its storytelling potential in a way that aligns with your organisation's brand and message. It's about creating an annual report that is not just informative, but also engaging and memorable.

For more insights and ideas on creating compelling annual reports, please explore our other articles:

By implementing these strategies and leveraging the power of video, you can create an annual report that stands out, engages stakeholders, and tells a compelling story.

Need help with your next annual report?

For more than 11 years we have combined strategy, outstanding design and innovation to create powerful publications. From professional and corporate, to more stand-out concepts, we are your experts in annual report design. Visit our annual report design packages and get a quote today.

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