How to create an effective annual report design that delivers lasting impact
Yep, it really is that time of the year again. Right now, companies all over the country will be digging deep for ideas on how to deliver their best-ever annual report design.
But creating a great EOFY report isn’t just a mid-year box-ticking exercise to be forgotten about by August – a report that delivers real impact is one that’s produced as part of a wider integrated strategy designed to bring solid returns in the long-term too. It sounds serious and complex, but don’t worry; to ensure you get the most out of your annual reporting efforts, we’re going to tell you what it takes to make them exciting, get them seen and set them up to achieve the highest return on investment long after EOFY. That’s the “wider integrated strategy” we’re talking about!
Never get forgotten with a diverse range of high-quality visual design elements
No – this isn’t just a precaution because people only pay attention to things that are all pretty and nice. Creative design is integral to your success in building meaningful and lasting connections with your target audience. Consistent use of branded colours, fonts and graphics throughout your report will help to make your brand instantly recognisable while greatly improving the visual aesthetic for that all-important professional look and credibility. What’s more, structuring your report with bitesize segments and using charts, graphs and infographics to present complex facts and information will make your report so much easier to navigate and absorb. And your stakeholders will thank you for that! Of course, there’s also the challenge of creating an experience that’s engaging and leaves a lasting impression otherwise, what’s the point, right? Dynamic content such as audio, video, illustrations, photos and interactive data and images will stimulate the human senses on a deeper level by arousing emotion and provoking thought (provided it’s created with your target audience in mind).
Think about how you’ll spread the word far and wide
The chances are, you’ll want your annual report to be picked up by many different stakeholders – inside and outside the business – so, there are three things you’ll need to consider: Who are they? Where are they? And what are they most interested in? Here’s how to approach the “promotion” part of your strategy. Before considering your options, break your audience down into different types. These could include new and prospective customers, shareholders, employees, executive leadership – and anyone else you can think of. Then, decide the most relevant channels for each audience segment. For example, for company employees and senior leaders, this may be by email, the company’s website homepage or an internal newsletter. Meanwhile, for customers, EDMs or social media promotions could be your best bet. Now, you’re ready for the third and final phase of an effective promotion. Think about your report’s best ‘hook’ for each audience type and push it to the front with clear and persuasive language targeted to each segment. For shareholders, this might be some impressive financial figures but for employees, it could be a couple of organisational achievements that make them feel really good about the work they do. And for customers, why not pull out a convincing case study or video about how the company has made people’s lives so much better? Now, you’re getting the picture.
Have a plan to get some real mileage out of your report
By their very nature, reports are collection of different content types that come together to tell a story, educate, inform and even inspire audiences. But that doesn’t mean all your efforts have reached the end of the road once the final report is published. Consider how different components of your report could be tweaked and repurposed at a later date for maximum ROI. Here are a couple of examples of how it could be done: Case studies about how your products or services benefit others could form the basis of a pitch or presentation later down the track. So, plan a logical structure and make sure they touch on all the right notes for easy dissection and extraction of key points. Infographics tell a story of their own in one quick glance, so these could be great for social media postings or EDMs – to name only two examples. Videos are usually complementary yet independent of surrounding report material. This means their entertaining qualities and short time-frame could make them ideal for repurposing as part of a social media promotion. Charts, graphs and fact sheets could be used to add weight to marketing collateral such as brochures, EDMs and internal documents. Meanwhile, they could even be used as a valuable reference source within company training documents. Now you have all the information you need to really make the most of this year’s EOFY reports. So, with only a couple of weeks to go – good luck!
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