In recent years, overt marketing and brand content in annual reports — at least in their traditional printed guise — have taken a backseat to emerging online, social media and interactive channels. Limited budgets that could be seen as a lingering legacy of the post-GFC austerity years have also taken the limelight away from the annual report as the comms ‘hero’.
But smart organisations are realising annual reports are a crucial touchpoint for the strategic communication of key brand messages, delivered in a visually compelling way. They deserve a prominent place in the marketing mix.
The ROI is real
In the past, the financial value of this approach has been unknown or disputed. But the results of a US-based study show otherwise. Investing in a well-designed aesthetically pleasing annual report (especially in regard to creative use of colour) could result in an immediate pay-off. Those surveyed (both general public and experienced investors) valued the stock of companies with engaging, aesthetically pleasing reports 70 per cent higher than companies with more restrained, blander reports. So it seems there is bang for your buck in the annual report.
Make a connection
The essential nature of an annual report is about clear communication, accountability, openness, transparency. If these attributes are also at the core of your organisation’s brand, there’s no better time to elevate them — and turn your report into a golden opportunity for creating content that will have a life beyond the annual report.
Across all facets of an organisation’s operations and culture, the current welcome trend is to break down outdated corporate jargon and expression to humanise the information and engage the reader. The use of infographics and the growth of concise online reporting in recent years has been evidence of this trend, but audiences want more.
Now is the time for bold, strong branding, themes and visual design to once again take centre stage in your annual report. After all, it all comes down to connecting with those who have the greatest influence on your organisation’s success.
Rowland Creative is an award-winning champion of the annual report — we design and deliver more than 20 each year for clients from a wide variety of sectors and industries. Talk to us about how you can take your annual report and business to the next level. Call Pip McConnel-Oats / our creative studio on 07 3229 4499.