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How to make your Annual Report stand out

It is the time of the year when organisations are putting their best foot forward to bring out a comprehensive Annual Report to send out to their stakeholders and investors. Traditionally, Annual Reports are meant to enumerate the organisation’s achievements in the financial year, outline their financial status and give an idea of their vision for the future. Annual reports contain a letter from the president or CEO of the company, financial data, information about the company’s operations, market information, as well as plans for the new year.

With a little bit of effort and innovating thinking, a good annual report can go beyond being a data dump, becoming a great and inspiring report that can help you build trust in your stakeholders, employees as well as bring your brand to life.

Add emotions to your brand’s story 

It’s true that numbers will make your company stand out in the minds of investors, however it takes a good story, powerfully told for them to go beyond their rational understanding to connect with your organisation. The Annual Report can be an excellent avenue for telling your company’s story, and the story of its people. This can create an impact in the minds of stakeholders and work towards building a community of like-minded people who are invested in your brand, emotionally. Using storytelling to create an inspiring and engaging flow of information can help form a more lasting impression in the minds of your investors.

Focus on crafting a narrative around what changes were made this year, or how your company’s improved performance is a result of the combined hard work within the organisation.


Get real, show your employees

This is the most important of them all. After all, your company is the people who work in it. Highlight their tales, let them tell the stories of the organisation’s success. Flesh out your Annual Report so it offers not only a glimpse into your company’s performance but also into the people behind the organisation, their accomplishments and passions. This humanises your organisation. Such grounding elements within the Annual Report reassure investors and forge strong emotional connections to your brand.

Invest in an eye-catching design

Firstly, let’s talk about the design. The way you present the information helps a great deal in establishing your organisation’s brand, whether it’s through eye-catching typography, infographics or the usage of brand-specific colours and images. It also plays a huge role in how much of the information is actually processed by your investors. You don’t want them to skip over any important details when they flip through the pages. The right use of white space, colours, images and infographics can go a long way in determining the readability of your annual report.

Present the data visually and digitally

Here’s a fact: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. We process visuals at 60,000X faster than text. A powerful infographic will make any numbers in your Annual Report stand out, making an impact in the reader’s mind. While images can help, you don’t need to constrain yourself to a printed Annual Report. Organisations are increasingly making their Annual Reports digital, presenting infographics in a scrollable, easy to read, online medium. Digital-first Annual Reports also make it easier for your to add in multimedia content and data by hyperlinking to older stories and referencing, adding in slideshows, visuals and other complementary material that can help contextualise your organisation’s performance. How about adding in videos of your leadership talking about the company’s performance? Digital reports are more accessible and can be read on a number of devices and are environmentally friendly while also cutting down on printing costs.

When investors look at your annual report, they are looking at your brand’s story too which helps foster a sense of belonging. It’s time to use your Annual Reports as not only an information tool but an opportunity to invite the investors behind the scenes, where they can get excited about what to expect from your organisation in the future.