6 Ways to Create a Great Annual Report

In last weeks blog, I discussed why using graphic elements and data visualisation can be a great way to ensure your report gets read and enjoyed by potential clients, investors, sponsors and employees. In this blog, I’ll go into more detail on the types of elements you can bring into Annual Reports and show some great examples from around the web that make the most of the format.

1. Data Visualisation

The obvious place to start for us. Some really clever data visualisation can quickly demonstrate to the reader what the company has done over the course of the year, shed light on specific areas of interest, or just add visual interest to a more dull topic. Here’s some great examples that do that:

QR coded, TSS Annual Report 2011 Your world | Edwin Van Praet

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Striking use of colour in this Annual Report makes it very easy to read as well as very visually captivating. Quite dull financial figures are made to look very interesting, and the tones of the brand colours, blue and pink, tie each page together cohesively.

St. James’ Episcopal School Annual Report | Zoe Proser

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This design makes use of varied typography and colour to pull out data about the schools progress over the year. Statistics are presented with oversized text as well as colour coordinated bar charts and graphs. The variety of different styles is brought together quite harmoniously, with all the content given a nice emphasis and balance on each page. Custom iconography and photography is brought into each statistic to bring visual interest.

NXT Corp Annual Report Brochure | Vitaly Velygo

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This template makes excellent use of the branding and colour scheme. Differing from the previous example, this one uses consistent iconograhy and fonts to carry the branding all the way through, the result is a very professional and consistent document. The data is visualised very clearly with key statistics and data displayed prominently and boldly.

2. Focus on Typography

Great font choices and a well structured layout can be great to convey the right story. I’ll show some of the best Reports where oversized type helps to exaggerate the structure and different sections:

Good Luck International Advertising Media Group Report | One & One Design

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Typography in this report is used as much as a decorative, illustrative element as to demonstrate the titles and numbers of each section. Use of gloss text really helps to pull those elements out.

SUSTAINABILITY REPORT | Mooi Design

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This oversized type is very striking and works excellently when combined with the block colours and beautiful photography. The glossy black on black look of the title page is very interesting and the numbered sections really stand out.

The Solar Annual Report, powered by the sun | Reddot Award

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The data visualisations in this report make use of a few different font weights and transparencies to add variety and to pull out key data.

3. Unconventional Printing methods

embossing, folding, cut outs and all manner of interesting, unconventional printing techniques can be used to make an Annual Report more interesting. The best examples of these use clever elements that suit the content as well as the branding:

Pirelli Annual Report 2012 | Cacao Design

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This Annual Report from Pirelli has a slipcase which contains booklets for each section. I really like the use of gloss type here, as well as the varied size text around the bindings of the internal booklets. It’s a great way to get across the key themes before the reader even gets into the book, while also helping it to stand out.

IMC Annual Report | Fitzroy

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This IMC Annual Report features translucent plastic pages. The whole book has a very futuristic look, with digital fonts and layouts, so these pages help to exaggerate the theme.

TASC Annual Report | Red Antler

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This Annual Report has a fold out infographic section. This is a great way to show more complex relationships and charts. It also gives the opportunity to give the ‘big reveal’, which can add interest to specific data within the Report.

Seguros Pelayo  Resumen Annual Report 2012 | Biográfica

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A really fun and playful use of infographics in this Annual Report. The pop outs are very novel but represent the data very well. The consistent use of colour and branding also strengthen the overall look of the Report.

4. Iconography

A nice consistent icon set can be a great addition to any Annual Report or infographic. Here’s some examples where iconography really helps to influence the look of the Report:

Anthon B Nilsen 2010 Annual Report | Heydays

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This report uses iconography in a very clever and different way. Instead of the conventional company overview this design focuses on icons to show what is in the pockets of the companies employees. The bold styling of the icons fits perfectly with the oversized typography and conveys the objects in a novel and very stylised way that suits the brand.

Thales Annual Report 2010 | Rui Peralta

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Simple block colours and black iconography makes for a very attractive cover for this Annual Report from Thales. I really like the combination of simlified iconography and complex object silhouettes in this case and it really helps to get across the wide scope of projects that Thales are involved with.

Informe Annual Report 2009 | Huaman Studio

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Use of triangular shapes is carried throughout this Annual Report.

5. Photography and Illustration

Use of imagery is a great way to add interest throughout an Annual Report. These can be used individually, but a great piece of design can often combine and intertwine illustration and photography to weave a cohesive story:

Google Annual Report 2014 | Brendan Jones

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The theme of coloured ribbons flowing through the report is carried out really well in this Annual Report from Google. Photography is directly incorporated into each ribbon with coloured overlays tying it all together.

Medici con l’Africa CUAMM | Alessio Romandini

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In this charity Annual Report photography is used to create an emotive response from the reader. In this case, the sepia filtered photography is printed directly onto the textured card sleeve, which has a very interesting effect which suits the grass roots, hand made look that the Report is going for.

DNB Bank Annual Report | Snøhetta Design

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Photography is key with this Annual Report from DNB. Each section has it’s own miniature book, with it’s own coloured overlay on the cover. The photography ties all of the booklets together but the colour contrast helps to differentiate each section.

6. Timelines & Linear diagrams

Chronological data is often best demonstrated with timelines, and this is especially prevalent with good Annual Reports. Timelines are a great way to show how something has developed over the course of the year and is also an excellent way to bring in photography and branding:

2011 Annual Report Design for BFA Bank | Alexander Zhestkov

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This timeline makes use of enlarged type rather than imagery. The Annual Report overall has a very monochromatic, bold look so this timeline suits it perfectly.

Rosneft Annual Report 2011 | Viktor Gausa

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Large, clear typography and great use of chunky imagery helps to demonstrate some of the key statistics in this visualisation. As the statistics are displayed parallel to one another the main points are rapidly identified and compared.

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