Below is a breakdown of most of the stages we go through, or at least suggest our clients work through even if some stages are on their own. This makes the challenge less daunting and ensures things are not missed or considered which could be difficult to overcome later down the line.
Our annual report design process
For more help and inspiration click here to read our insight – How to design an annual report
Research – An annual report is more than just a brochure or marketing leaflet; as the name suggests it is about the company history over the last 12 months. You need to take time to consult with all relevant staff, from directors down to front end delivery teams, to build the picture of the last year. Research everything and don’t dismiss anything at this stage. Also look at what things have actually been recorded both in terms of the facts and ideally imagery.
Aims & Objectives – Decide what the annual report needs to achieve. This is beyond the simple task of reporting, but is it to highlight a major change, to build brand recognition or confidence, to become a reporting and marketing tool for the company? Without a clear direction you may create something amazing but useless as a tool.
Planning the pages – It is not just as easy as starting in January and work towards December. Develop major themes, divide that in to sections, maybe sub sections and special areas of focus. Plan when and how to include financial content. Go back and make sure your plan delivers against your objectives.
Create content – With a plan for your content you can now focus on writing and possibly pulling in content from different departments and sources. If that is the case you will need to ensure this all sounds like it is coming from the same brand. If it doesn’t you may need help copywriting to ensure tone of voice is consistent. Try to tell a story and always think about the end user. Try to be engaging and not just historically correct. Build layers and give extra insight where possible reflecting and enhancing your brand reputation.
Source imagery – Photography, graphics and possibly illustration can bring your content to life and this is very important in dense blocks of copy that can be hard work to absorb. Infographics have become a buzz word, but they are a genuine design opportunity in annual reporting. Ideally the images will be real and believable not just generic images from online libraries. Clip art images can work brilliantly in general marketing, but if used in annual reports they can look false and make the whole content untrusted.