Creating an Annual Report can be an unnerving task.
Especially if you’re new to this challenge.
And what you write depends on your audience.
Donors and supporters of a non-profit look for assurance. They want to see their money is being used in the most beneficial way for the charity.
Remember they can always decide to donate elsewhere.
While public company shareholders want to see their investment getting the greatest returns possible in the marketplace.
Instead of approaching this writing challenge with dread, why not look at it a different way?
And They All Lived Happily Ever After…
Writing an annual report is a form of storytelling.
After all, there’s a plot, characters and action.
Even so, it can be a tough read.
As you would expect, a lot of the story is in the unique language of financial reporting.
I’m thinking intangible assets and DuPont ratios etc.
Are you still with me?
I hope so and here’s why.
Don’t publish a text-heavy door stop. Do the opposite.
Create an annual report that’s fun to read. Something that gives your reader a real taste of your organization.
Not sure what I’m on about?
Let me show you.
Annual Report = Marketing Tool
Today an annual report is more than just a narrative on financial health and performance.
It has morphed into a sophisticated marketing tool.
And yes, I agree. That makes creating it even MORE of a challenge for you and your design team.
So here comes the good part.
To help you, I’ve searched for examples.
Some of them are quirky.
But others tell you immediately what the company is about before you open the report.
Created by designers around the globe who took on the challenge of presenting in a different way.
These samples of beautifully put-together, and in some cases, amazingly innovative annual reports will get your creative ideas sparking.
I guarantee it.
How creative you can make your report will depend on your industry. But as these examples clearly show, it’s possible to make even the dullest of subjects sparkle.
Your only problem?
Creating something next year, that’s even better than the masterpiece you’re going to produce this year.
CLIENT: Banques Alimentaire Quebec, Canada
2012-13 Annual Report
Background: Banques Alimentaire Quebec is a foodbank network in Quebec, Canada. It collects unsold supermarket food and other food donations, then provides the logistics necessary to distribute the food to people in need across the territory.
Design: The 2012-13 Annual Report was created as a tin can – the universal symbol of donations. You unroll the label from the tin to read all the important information from that financial year. The design was created using the strong color contrast of black and yellow.
Montreal-based Art Director, Romain Albertini of lg2 agency won the Prix Grafika 2014 award for his design.
image credit: graphis.com
CLIENT: Austrian Solar, Vienna, Austria
2011 Annual Report
Background: Austrian Solar develops and manages solar energy power plants around the world.
Design: Their 2011 Annual Report was created using a specialized print process with eco-friendly, photochromic colors. The finished report was packaged in a sealed protective foil cover. When unwrapped, it was blank until the report was exposed to sunlight. Then the pages filled with information and color and the details became readable.
European design agency, Serviceplan created this innovative report.
You can watch how they created it on this video clip.
image credit: serviceplan.com
CLIENT: Red Cross, Western Cape Region, South Africa
2002-03 Annual Report
Background: The Society responds to natural disasters and unforeseen everyday incidents around the world. It works alongside other aid groups, volunteers and governments. And it offers support to vulnerable people around the world, providing medical and social welfare services.
Design: Their 2002-03 Annual Report was designed to look like a nostalgic old scrapbook. It tells the history of the Society’s work in South Africa through images of aged postcards, letters and photographs. Some of the pages have photos of X-ray film, a used medicine tube, coins and a pinboard, yet it still has all the essential financial information scattered throughout the report.
Cape Town-based Art Director/Graphic Designer, Greg Williams created this fabulous yet poignant report.
image credit: greg williams
CLIENT: Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada
2011 Annual Report
Background: This is Canada’s most visited zoo and managed by Alberta’s oldest charity. It has a Centre for Conservation Research and is one of the top zoos in the world for this type of study. The zoo currently looks after almost 30 species in danger of disappearing completely and visitors can see almost 800 animals, fish and insects.
Design: The zoo threw a challenge to award-winning Graphic Designer, Jonathan Herman. They needed their report designed and finished within a week and on a very tight budget. So Herman and his team decided to use the zoo’s conservation research as a theme for the design.
They used 100% recycled newsprint, printed with a single color and created this brilliant one page report. And I adore the owl, which peeks over the edge of the report when the sheet is folded down in size.
Watch Calgary-based Jonathan Herman and his designers demonstrate how their teamwork brought the project together on time (and hopefully on budget too)
image credit: jonathan herman
CLIENT: Clear Media Outdoor Advertising, Hong Kong, China
2014 Annual Report
Design: The theme of this report was “Our Space, Your Stage.” The first 16 pages are double page spreads in a variety of solid colors. Each page has an acrylic film panel near the top. The panel has a laser-cut scene demonstrating a marketing opportunity for their customers. Further down the page there’s a strapline and on the opposite page a short block of explanatory copy.
Page 17 provides a backdrop of famous buildings and landmarks around the world. When the report is closed, these panels blend together to create the eye-catching 3D image you can see on the front cover.
Explore this PDF to see the individual pages.
With 112 pages this report contains a lot of information, but the clever use of color and space breaks up the large sections of text.
The concept was designed by Phoenix Communications Hong Kong and you can see more images from this report by visiting their website.
image credit: red-dot.de
CLIENT: Podravka, Koprivnica, Croatia
2006 Annual Report
Background: Podravka is a Croatian-based food manufacturer. It started as a jam maker and today is a world producer of food products including the famous Vegeta seasoning, which it sells on all five continents.
Design: The theme was “Well Done” and the agency used the Podravka brand values of ‘warmth’, ‘heart’ and ‘good recipes’ to create this awesome annual report. The quirky part is you have to bake this annual report – yes, in the oven.
It was created in two parts; the main book with the financial story and a smaller inset book of recipes. However, when you prise this booklet from the center of the main book, you discover the pages are blank.
It’s printed with thermo-ink and to read it you must first wrap it in cooking foil then bake it in the oven for 25 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius.
And be aware. If you cook it too long it burns and undercooked, you can’t read the text.
This award-winning creation was the work of the innovative design team at Croatia-based Bruketa&Žinić
image credit: Bruketa-Žinić.com
CLIENT: TransContainer, Moscow, Russia
2008 Annual ReportBackground: TransContainer is a Moscow-based freight and logistics company. They transport goods around the world.
Design: Before you open this report you know it’s about container transportation. The front cover is cleverly designed to look like the side of a steel container. And the high-viz black & yellow caution markings continue as a theme running along the top and bottom of the pages.
Although this is a big report with 105 pages, it’s very easy to read with lots of white space and clear graphics. The designer used TransContainer’s corporate color scheme throughout and I like their use of monochrome images.
This PDF lets you explore the full report
Created by Moscow-based branding specialist and graphic designer, Andrew Gorkovenko.
image credit: andrew gorkovenko
2016 Annual Report
Background: ALSO is a European distributor of IT and consumer electronics and is the market leader in several countries.
Design: In 2016 ALSO decided to create a virtual annual report with the theme, ‘Spreading Knowledge.’ They threw this challenge to German creative agency Strichpunkt Design, who’re pushing the boundaries of sensory brand experiences.
When the report was completed, ALSO shareholders received an intriguing package as this award-winning design team created a smartphone app which you use with a VR headset. You can also scan a poster in the annual report and view ALSO’s data in augmented reality via your smartphone camera.
This report won a Red Dot Award for Communication Design.
If you want to experience this report in augmented reality, download their PDF poster at this link then download the ALSO app to your smartphone and follow the onscreen guide. I tried it. It’s cool.
image credit: strichpunkt-design.de
CLIENT: FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings), Toronto, Canada
2013-2014 Annual Report
Design: They wanted their report created within a limited timescale (less than a month) and tight budget. Toronto-based creative agency ALSOCollective came up with this lively two colour design. It’s finished with a comb binder which allows the report to lie flat when open. And using several visual techniques it details how FACTOR uses its funding.
You can explore the full report here
image credit: underconsideration.com
CLIENT: Adris Group, Croatia
2008 Annual Report
Using a thermocolour silkscreen printing technique, Croatian design agency Bruketa & Zinic created a heat-sensitive report that turned green when heated by the palm of your hand. They also created a digital version for the iPad.
image credit: inspiration group.com
CLIENT: Mailchimp, Atlanta, USA
2016 Annual Report
Background: MailChimp is an Atlanta-based email marketing service. It’s also the world’s leading marketing automation platform. MailChimp’s customers send more than a billion emails every day. It’s a fabulous resource if you’re a small business or startup as it offers a range of templates for email campaigns, landing pages, e-newsletters etc. Also a help section giving ideas and tips for growing your subscriber lists and creating successful online campaigns.
Design: This is its 2016 interactive Annual Report, with lots of numbers that will make your eyes water.
image credit: mailchimp.com
So there you have it.
And when your fabulously-designed, easy-to-read Annual Report is finished and out there, punch the air, scream “YESSSS” out loud then pull together all your notes and scribbles. You’ll need them when you start planning next year’s magnificent report.
If you need help with your Annual Report, get in touch.