The ultimate guide to annual report design

Annual reports are comprehensive overviews of a company's activities. In this blog series, we help marketers through the annual report design process from initial concept to published document.

Over the years, our team here at JDJ Creative have created countless annual reports, and during that time we have learned a lot about what works and what does not.

Creating a key reporting document is no easy task. So we have developed this guide to share our insights and best practices.

This guide will enable companies to create impactful reports that convey clear messages, drive positive change and align workforces to reach desired goals.

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  1. Why create an exceptional annual report
  2. Planning your report
  3. Choosing the right channel
  4. Design pointers
  5. The JDJ process
  6. Disseminating your annual report

Why create an exceptional annual report?

At its core, an annual report is a reflection of the previous financial year’s performance. It shows existing stakeholders, potential investors and other interested parties how well your company has performed over the preceding 12 months.

But an exceptional annual report can be so much more than a sterile list of accounts.

It can be inspirational and unique. For when you create a powerful annual report, you differentiate yourself from your competition and enhance your sector standing. While your competitors produce functional reports, you have the opportunity to make a statement that will impress.

Furthermore, a successful report can attract talent to your company. When you include a well-written purpose statement, you connect people with your company’s vision and values. It’s a motivational tool and a talent lead all in one.

Annual report cover images

The importance of purpose in business

Companies with a clear sense of purpose are able to build more meaningful relationships with their customers, employees and shareholders.

They can inspire and motivate the people within their organisation, create higher levels of productivity and produce a sense of being part of something worthwhile and for the greater good.

An annual report offers a unique platform for communicating your purpose with a number of different stakeholders. From shareholders and employees to competitors and the general public, your audience will read your report for different reasons.

By displaying your purpose — why you exist — through effective storytelling across all pages, you will be able to increase brand trust and create deep connections across your audience.

78% of companies surveyed included a clear and prominent statement of their purpose that went beyond generating profits for shareholders.
Annual report insights 2020, Deloitte

Why do companies create an annual report?

[Infographic] What is an annual report good for?

An annual report is the perfect medium for:

  • Presenting data in an engaging manner
  • Explaining your future strategy
  • Demonstrating your resilience and ability to navigate through tough economic times
  • Improving your company culture and motivating staff

A storytelling device, your annual report is a once a year opportunity to communicate fully with your shareholders, reflecting on past performance, planning future success and reinforcing company culture, values and purpose.

Annual reports and COVID-19

44% of CMOs are facing midyear budget cuts graphic

The unprecedented effects of the global pandemic have impacted marketing budgets across the board. Research by Gartner shows almost half of CMOs (44%) faced midyear budget cuts in 2020 as a direct result of COVID-19. As a consequence, many aim to build deeper relationships with existing customers and an annual report provides the opportunity to do just that..

By talking directly to already engaged stakeholders, you can bring financial information to life, educating, informing and inspiring confidence in your brand. By engendering trust in your existing audience, traversing a post-COVID world will become that much easier.

Successfully producing your report requires careful decision making and planning, and positive results can be achieved on even the most modest of budgets. In chapter 2 we look at the planning stage of annual report design...


A blog series
Creating an annual report - a guide
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Part 2
Planning your report
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Contact JDJ Creative

If you’re looking for an annual report design partner, JDJ Creative are the specialists. To find out how we can work with you to create exceptional reports, please get in touch.

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