23 February 2021

Planning your
annual report

An annual report is an investment that costs money and time, so the planning stage needs to be done properly.

But, with a deadline in mind, it’s tempting to rush into writing your annual report. We encourage you to slow down and take time to reflect before you begin. Map out the following elements and you’ll save time and money in the long run.

Three steps to planning an effective annual report design process

When designing an annual report it’s essential to consider your messaging, goals and objectives from the outset. Taking time to map out these elements will save hours in the long run.

Here are our three steps to planning an effective annual report design process…

1. Define objectives

Start your planning process by considering what a successful reporting campaign would look like for your business. This could be more downloads of the report than in previous years, an increased reaction on social media, or more coverage in the national press.

Although the definition of success may vary from one company to another, meeting the needs of investors and employees is likely to be a key goal. Armed with this knowledge you should be able to define clear objectives that are achievable and can be easily measured.

At this early stage, it is often advisable to involve key stakeholders in order to gain their buy-in to your vision for the report. As well as ensuring alignment down the line, their input can also help to plan for all essential content from the outset.

Next steps:

❒ Define a set of clear, actionable objectives
❒ Involve stakeholders to gain buy-in
❒ Plan the core content requirements

 


 

2. Set key messages, goals and strategy

Just like a newspaper or magazine, annual reports should have a strong editorial proposition.

You want to tell a compelling story that covers different aspects of your company’s success. Your annual report should be a creative expression of your key messages, goals and strategy. Good design can help the reader access these key messages quickly and easily. What do your stakeholders want to read? What do they look at first? Most readers initially scan the financial highlights and the first few paragraphs of the statements made by your chairman and CEO, so it is important that these make a powerful, positive impact.

Will the report be printed or take the form of an interactive web page? Or both? This decision will influence the report’s design, which needs to ensure a strong user experience. It will also help with budgeting and finalising timeframes for delivery.

Next steps:

❒ Set budget
❒ Set timeframe
❒ Decide on medium
❒ Select narrative style

 


 

3. Develop a creative brief

A creative brief will pull all your planning together into one document, which outlines the creative approach and deliverables for the whole report campaign. Once decided, it can be shared  with design agencies as part of the tender process.

A good creative brief should include:

  • Background to your company, including:
    • Industry
    • Market (including competitors)
    • Identity and values
  • Project overview, including:
    • The work that is needed
    • The main target audiences
    • The purpose/goals of the report
    • Timelines
    • Budget
  • Specific project deliverables
  • Summary of brief

An annual report is an investment that costs money and time, so the planning stage needs to be done properly.

Annual report design – What your design agency needs to know

Once you’ve engaged a design agency it’s important to meet with the team to align your vision. We recommend starting the process with a meeting to discuss the overarching theme of your annual report. The creative team will then have a firm basis to start crafting the report. Inviting key stakeholders to the meeting can ensure everyone is on the same page.

At the end of the meeting, you should have decided on your:

  • Company and market overview – Explain the context in which your company operates and how it differentiates itself from competitors.
  • Corporate branding requirements – Include all relevant details to help the creative team develop a report that aligns with and reinforces your brand.
  • Key communication objectives – Clarify what you want to achieve with your annual report. This will help the creative team (including the copywriter) to bring your vision to life using the most appropriate medium.
  • Target audiences – An annual report can be targeted at a wide audience, including investors, employees and suppliers. Make sure you understand who your primary audiences will be so that you can include content to meet their needs.
  • Outline of editorial structure – Reports can vary substantially in length, but all need a coherent structure in order to communicate a clear story about your company.
  • Key points – Research indicates that most readers only spend two to three minutes scanning through an annual report, so it’s vital that the design team understands the key points you want your readers to take away.
  • Outline of financial performance – Include key performance indicators that you may want to be highlighted in the report.

Download our guide and discover how to design reports that inspire your stakeholders

 

Want to know the secrets of excellent annual report design?

Download our FREE eBook to discover:

✅ How to get the most from your report
✅ How to increase engagement
✅ Our proven design process

DOWNLOAD


The JDJ Creative team are annual report design specialists

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.

CONTACT US

Related Posts

Design

How to make
a sustainability
report XBRL-
compliant

Read article

Data

The Impact
of Visual
Storytelling in
Financial
Marketing

Read article

Design

The Role of
design in
investor
presentations
and pitch
decks

Read article

Design

Why choose
JDJ Creative to
design your
Sustainability
Report?

Read article

Design

What are
brand
guidelines?

Read article

Design

On the rise of
Sustainability
Reporting

Read article

Design

A quick guide
to Exhibition
Stands

Read article

Company News

Reflecting on
a wonderful
relationship

Read article

Design

How to choose
the right
annual report
design agency

Read article

Design

A guide to:
annual report
design

Read article

Design

Will AI replace
graphic
designers?

Read article

Company News

2022:
A Roundup

Read article

Design

Report design
for the future

Read article

Data

Using design
to better
understand data

Read article

Design

How to design
a sustainability
report

Read article

Design

How to present
a sustainability
report

Read article

Design

Five key steps
to sustainability
reporting

Read article

Design

What makes up
a sustainability
report?

Read article

Design

How to measure
sustainability

Read article

Design

Is print
still
relevant?

Read article

Design

Are brochures
still effective?

Read article

Design

What is
sustainability
reporting and
why is it
important?

Read article

Design

What to look for
when proofreading
an annual report
(or other business
document)

Read article

Company News

2021: A year
in design

Read article

Design

How to measure
the impact of
thought
leadership

Read article

Company News

Brands we’ve
worked with who
are changing
the world

Read article

Design

The psychology
of colour in
branding

Read article

Design

Can graphic
designers
do web design?

Read article

Design

Why are brands
going retro with
their logos?

Read article

Design

How to
choose a
brand typeface

Read article

Design

Women in
art &
design

Read article

Design

Promoting
your annual
report for
maximum
engagement

Read article

Design

Annual report
design tips

Read article

Design

The JDJ Creative
annual report
design process

Read article

Design

Should you
publish a digital
or printed
annual report?

Read article

Design

Planning your
annual report

Read article

Design

The ultimate
guide to annual
report design

Read article

Design

Creativity Vs
Automation

Read article

Design

Corporate review
design: Reimagined

Read article

Company News

Radiance
colour book

Read article

Design

Pollen: Preparation,
Collaboration,
Execution

Read article

Design

Making sense:
Touch

Read article

Get in touch

We’re always keen to hear from like-minded people with passion and purpose,
so let’s see if together we can bring your vision to life.