That’s right, annual reports. Some might consider them little more than a legal necessity, but we find them an exciting mix of data and design. And for those who equate a report’s intentional purpose with obligatory boredom, well, we’re here to tell you that you’re missing a huge opportunity.
As a discovery tool, it’s an invaluable asset that allows us to better understand—and appreciate—the form and function of our clients. Informative and intimate, we are often astounded at the depth and breadth of their work.
A piece that has the ability to engage, inform, persuade, and unite, it demands honesty and yearns for creativity. Without giving away too many trade secrets, our approach to annual reports can be pared down to three key tenets:
First, you need to think of an annual report as much, much more than a legal requirement. Rather, it is the foremost opportunity to bring the year into perspective; a chance to explain why the data matters and reemphasize the company’s value through visual language. In short, is an often underused opportunity to forge a deeper connection between the organization and the reader.
An annual report is often an involved process with many revisions and approvals, making the schedule a critical component of its success. Understanding that there are always variables that affect its outcome, the schedule needs to be comprehensive, as well as flexible and responsive. And within it, a clear approval process must be established to ensure the project is completed on time.
To maximize its impact and best deliver the data, we design around the content. Starting with a content outline, we explore different visual opportunities to highlight key areas and tell a deeper story. Knowing there will be rewrites as stakeholders review and adjust the content, we are careful not to jump the gun on a theme. Instead, we absorb the changes, observe how the content changes shape, and ultimately reveals a narrative.
While each format presents its own unique opportunities and challenges, our objective is always the same—to make the publication more robust. How we support that goal with elements of celebration and engagement is as unique as our clients themselves, making each annual report a thing of beauty.
What questions do you ask before diving into your annual report? We’d love to hear from you!