When spoken of in a corporate context, we usually think of graphic design in terms of a company’s logo or website, or such entities that reflect the brand image before its target audience. More often than not, we overlook the scope and significance of design in less-visible documents, like annual reports, for instance.
Also called ‘yearly statement’ or ‘statement of information’, an annual report is an official written account of a company’s performance for a given year. A typical annual report comprises of an address from the top executive (President/CEO), the company’s business profile, detailed fiscal reports for the year, followed by a subsequent analysis of the same as well as a forecast for the following year.
Why does Annual Report Design matter?
Owing to its clinical nature, annual reports are often designed in uninspiring patterns. However, most people shut their eyes to the fact that annual reports are required to not only disseminate hard-facts but also communicate it effectively. Think of it this way- even if the profit margins on your report were soaring, it would only generate so much enthusiasm in your stakeholders when presented plainly as black and white numbers on a page.
Good design does not just make the content of the report look more interesting but also makes it easier to understand and process. The better the presentation of your report, the easier it is to get your readers on board with your company’s agenda and plan of action. The annual report has the potential to be much more than a performance report- it can be used as a means to inspire and motivate crucial stakeholders and investors.
Thus, given the high stakes of annual reports, it is only sensible for companies to get it made from competent designers so as to ensure both legibility and visual appeal. Listed below are five points to keep in mind while designing annual reports.
1. Go all-out with the cover
Reading a company report is more likely to be done out of professional compulsions than personal choice, so an attractive cover design can make for a good start by inciting a sense of interest in the reader. But then again, this is only a secondary reason for focusing on cover design- the cover of a company’s annual report is less for the looks and more to serve strategic goals.
On other occasions, the cover of your annual report can also be designed to reflect the topics and themes within. Let’s say for instance, a new product was launched in a given year, then it makes sense to include it on the cover of that year’s annual report as a preview to the detailed performance report of the same on the inside. Similarly, an abstract cover design sets the right tone for a report discussing a significant technological development or strategic growth plans for the future.
2. Choose your content strategically
The design of a report is heavily dependent on the type/quantity of content in it- so be intentional with what goes in your report. For instance, if your objective is to prepare a classic state-of-the-company report, then the content will be heavy on performance insights and the scope of the annual report design will revolve around engaging infographics on important data and statistics. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain more PR placement, then include compelling information, and present it using sensational designs.
3. Be consistent with branding
Given that annual reports are essential business documents, designing them in line with the company’s branding guidelines makes for a good case of strong corporate identity. This goes beyond the use of your company logo on the cover- the report should be using the brand’s unique color schemes and typography, and other such significant branding elements.
Likewise, the visuals added to the report (graphs, charts, etc.) as well as the overall look and feel of it should reflect the company’s brand identity- for instance, if your brand has a more professional aesthetic, then playing around with too flashy infographics might be counterproductive to consistent branding.
4. Avoid crowding
Layout is crucial to annual report design. Given the massive load of information that is usually presented in a report, it is imperative to organize it in a way that’s legible and comprehensible to the readers. For starters, always keep your matter categorized under relevant headings and subheadings- this not only enhances the reading experience but also makes your report easy to scan for selective sections. It is also recommended to use ample negative space to give the much-needed breathing space to both textual content as well as visual aids in the report.
5. Keep up with the latest design trends
The urge to carry similar design formats and elements in annual reports through the years is hard to miss- especially if the design of a certain edition is a big hit, then replicating it the following year seems like the smartest choice. However, more often than not, redoing designs can work against you.
Design trends, like the name itself suggests, come and go, and the larger audience is known to have an innate ability to distinguish outdated designs from latest ones. So if you want your readers to perceive your brand as a dynamic and evolving one, make sure to use the latest design trends in your company’s annual report.
It is difficult to keep a constant tab on exactly what’s trending in the design world- at times, it is certain colors, and other times, it may be certain fonts. The surest way to ensure that you are keeping up with all the right trends at the right time is to leave the matter to professionals.
Given the high-profile reader base, and significance of annual reports as an essential business document, it is only logical for companies to hire the services of professional graphic designers for annual report design. Digital Polo provides all kinds of design-related works for a low, monthly fee. Get in touch with us for top-tier annual report design.