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7 Elements to bring your annual report to life (with examples)

October 18, 2022

Although 2020 isn’t the year we want to reminisce on, creating an annual report is presumably still on the agenda for most companies. And now that we’re mostly communicating digitally, it's crucial that you don’t bore readers with a static document containing a lot of graphs and texts that no one will read. Instead, create an engaging visual report your readers will remember! In this blog, we will tell you how to bring your annual report to life.

“Transform complex information and figures into a visually appealing publication that your shareholders and clients can read on any device.”

Bring your annual report to life

Your annual report is an important piece of content for your brand to show your value in numbers and goals. Each year you need to seduce your readers and include them in your corporate story. The more impact you make with your annual report, the more you increase the engagement and visibility to better connect with your audience. We believe that static communication should be a thing of the past. Creating and sharing a digital report is a good way of boosting your digital presence with engaging pieces of content. 

How to create an engaging annual report

The key to an engaging report is to transform all the information into a captivating format and deliver the best content experience possible. It is not only about excellent copywriting and beautiful design, but how that combination guides the user through the entire reading experience.  

Below are some essential elements to help you create an engaging report.

1) Go digital

Now that we’re bound to our homes, the best and most efficient way to communicate your report is to publish and share it online. And we don’t mean sending it solely as a PDF. The presentation of content has become just as important as its quality, and that is why more companies are now creating online publications to share with their audience. Going digital gives you more opportunities to be creative. Also, digital content is easier to share, allowing you to increase your reach and the engagement people will have with your content.

Example: https://sustainability.lcpackaging.com/sustainability-report-2020/cover

2) A spotlight on premium content

With a digitized annual report, you can transform complex data and information to your target group in a more interactive and visual way. This way: a 100-page publication can change into 10 visual pages (or even a dedicated one-pager) that are enriched with interactive animations, infographics and embedded media such as video.

Example: https://brands.dentsu.com/2020-year-in-review

If you got an important message to spread, you don’t want your audience to get distracted. Online publications have a clear navigation structure with a beginning and an end. Readers are completely focused on the content by reading and scrolling. Without the noise of a busy website or blog. Doing this, you will improve the reading experience and will more be a fit to how people consume content nowadays. 

3) Make it visual and interactive

It is time to interact more with your shareholders, from employees to suppliers and customers. Integrate videos, links and animations to bring your report to life. Crafting an interactive digital annual report can be tedious and take time, but once you have figured out the right concept you will use it for years on. 

Don’t underestimate the power of good annual report design

Adding interactive content is a great element to encourage readers to engage with your report. If you package your digital report the right way its design will encourage your audience to spend more time with your content. And the more time they spend, the more invested they’ll become. So don’t dumb them down with a large data set, but add storytelling and rich media to the equation. 

Example: https://wsrl-jaarbeeld2019.maglr.com/jaarbeeld-2019/cover

Visualize your story

If your annual report is based on a specific theme or main subject you can integrate it as the core narrative throughout the design of the publication. A lot of valuable content can then be designed accordingly and will enhance the overall content experience that is in line with your digital visual identity. For example, the visuals you add to your publication tell your story as much as the words. 

Add video

There is no better storytelling medium than video. Adding video to your report is an effective way to communicate highlights of the year, told by people from your company. It is a great way to humanize and tell your story. Video is perfect to share short or long valuable, informative content that's quick and easy to digest.

Example: https://jaardocument.etz.nl/jaarverslag-2019/hoe-gaat-onze-organisatie-te-werk 

4) Animate and surprise

Digital publishing enables more room for creativity to captive the viewer. So why wouldn’t you add some subtle animations? Bring captivating images, illustrations, data visualization, bold typography and bright colours to life and surprise your audience with a captivating reading experience and make it more memorable. 

Example: https://jaarverslag.terredeshommes.nl/jaarverslag-2019/fact-figures 

5) Data visualization

Learn how to design data. If you want to ensure that your readers understand all the data that you want to include in your report, then we are big advocates of visualizing your data. It doesn’t only look pretty but it is also more effective and easier to understand for your audience. For example, using animated or interactive graphs and pop-ups will help to discover the reasoning behind the numbers.

 Example: https://jaarverslagfranciscus.digitaal-magazine.nl/franciscus_jaarverslag_2018/franciscus_in_het_kort

6) Be responsive

A digital report is a perfect opportunity to highlight your accomplishments, even more so when it is delivered in a mobile-friendly design. In a world where digital content plays an important role, a responsive design ensures that your report can be read on any device and through different screen sizes.

7) Let your people do the talking

Humanize your content and add some personality to your brand communication. People connect better with people than with brands. So don’t hide behind the numbers and the introduction by your CEO, but let your employees and clients tell the rest of your company's story. Include images of your people, use personal quotes or entertaining anecdotes to show how you really are as a brand. Your annual report is the place to make a bold statement - so don’t waste it by not showing them the right way. 

Example: https://www.knab.nl/static/annual-reports/knab-magazine/de-mensen-van-knab.html 

Now that you know the elements to bring your annual report to life, don’t forget that every piece of content is an opportunity to grab the attention of your audience and turn them into brand ambassadors. Also, there are a lot of benefits in creating and sharing a digital publication. So what’s keeping you from bringing your annual report to life? 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these examples:

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