Our mother or father firm, Column Five, have talked at size about why annual reports are such an important piece of content for manufacturers. Annual stories aren’t simply fulfill a authorized requirement; they’re a daring assertion about who you’re, what you do, and the way you’re succeeding. And when well-executed, they will elevate your model in methods you may not think about.

Take Warby Parker. When the eyewear firm debuted their 2012 annual report, an entertaining interactive infographic, they have been nearly overwhelmed by the outcomes.

“We thought some folks would discover it fascinating, however it was retweeted 2,000 occasions and led to our three highest consecutive day of gross sales—much more so than after we have been in CBS Sunday Morning or The New York Instances,” Warby Parker Cofounder Neil Blumenthal informed Fast Company.

(The corporate has since taken the report offline, however you’ll be able to try our assessment of their 2013 annual report to see how nice their stories are.)

For some manufacturers, crafting an annual report feels intimidating or taxing. However we all know that irrespective of how boring your business or dry your knowledge, you’ll be able to create an annual report that’s fascinating, participating, and genuine.

That will help you do this, C5 is sharing a few of their very own ideas that will help you create a compelling report from cowl to cowl.


It’s a disgrace when manufacturers simply compile their numbers, add a letter from the president, and name it a day. There’s loads of invaluable content material to be shared in an annual report, but when it isn’t offered appropriately, a lot of it goes to waste. As a cornerstone piece of content material, your annual report ought to successfully talk your model story.

To do that, assemble a core narrative. This can be a selected theme, an initiative, or an extension of your mission. Regardless, use each aspect of your annual report back to anchor that story, from the quilt design to the copy.

Instance: C5 collaborated with Goodwill of Orange County to create an annual report that informed the story of “The Good Impact,” how the group and its contributors helped the group over the 12 months.


An annual report is a chance to spotlight your accomplishments to construct belief in your group and present your stakeholders your success.

However to actually make an impression, to assist your viewers emotionally put money into your model, it’s worthwhile to spotlight the influence of those accomplishments. How does your work have an effect on people, companies, communities, and even the world?

As you body these successes, you may embody knowledge, in addition to testimonials, quotes, particular person tales, or different info that reveals the actual influence of your efforts.

Keep in mind: Translate info into influence.

Instance: C5 helped create the 2014 Robin Hood Annual Report, an interactive report that features video and tales. The video under follows the story of the Robin Hood Veterans Initiative, permitting the individuals who labored on the initiative—and the direct recipients—to speak concerning the influence.

[vimeo 86358708 w=700 h=394]


Your viewers appreciates transparency. This is applicable to your financials, in fact, however it additionally means they need to know who you’re and who (not simply what) you’re serving to. Sturdy model relationships are constructed by human-to-human connection, so eradicating the curtain is essential.

Take into consideration make your model voice come by in your content material. And along with human tales, embody photographs, whether or not it’s your CEO, staff, or the folks most affected by your work.

Instance: C5 created the Krochet Kids intl. 2013 Annual Report, which included photographs and tales of the ladies they work with world wide.


We’re big proponents of data visualization as a result of it’s each aesthetically pleasing and an efficient type of visible communication. Our brains are pre-wired for visible communication, so visualizing knowledge makes the data offered simpler to understand and recall.

Knowledge is especially helpful to reinforce your messaging; it additionally creates visible selection. Observe: If there’s notably pertinent info that helps your story, embody callouts or extra context to make sure your reader understands the importance of the information.

As you search for alternatives to visualise, ensure you observe greatest practices. (See our data visualization 101 collection for more information on design frequent charts and graphs.)

Instance: The information visualizations within the National Association of Realtors 2013 Annual Report present the group’s social media progress in an easy-to-understand means.


The visuals you embody inform your story as a lot because the phrases on the web page. Your selection of illustrations, photographs, colours, and fonts make your visual language an extension of your model identification.

As you progress ahead with design, you might need to select an overarching visible theme or metaphor that pertains to your story. It might even be influenced by the format you select.

This is a chance to get as artistic as you want. Nevertheless, you probably have a longtime model visible language, it needs to be in step with the opposite items you create.

Instance: C5 designed the Pacific Life 2015 Annual Report round an aquatic theme. It helped current the model as a dwelling, respiration, energetic entity to remind the viewers that Pacific Life is greater than a life insurance coverage firm.


Annual stories have developed in recent times. Whereas a print piece was the usual 25 years in the past, they will now take many types: print, digital, interactive—even video. (And we’ll absolutely see a VR model sometime.) Relying on the story you’re making an attempt to inform, take into account which format will enable you ship it most successfully.

It doesn’t matter what you select, search for alternatives to interact readers. Interactivity is an effective way to do that. The extra time they get to spend “in” and along with your content material, the extra invested they’re.

You may take into account an interactive infographic that lets them soar in and mess around with the content material. (That is notably helpful for knowledge units.) You’ll be able to even create interactivity with a print piece. The Sonae 2012 Annual Report by Ivity Brand Corp. featured gears to show and acetate overlays to carry the content material to life.

Instance: The Krochet Kids intl. interactive report allowed customers to discover firm knowledge.


For those who problem your self, you’ll be able to actually break the mildew along with your annual report. This further layer upgrades your readers’ expertise, making your annual report really memorable. There are lots of methods to shock or excite readers.

  • Attempt an fascinating presentation: The Banques Alimentaires Québec 2012-2013 Annual Report by LG2 Boutique got here wrapped round a paint can.
  • Share a pleasant picture, story, or tidbit: Warby Parker’s 2013 annual report talked about the time their group ordered so many sides of bacon from Seamless that the service was certain there’d been a mistake.
  • Embrace a enjoyable little freebie: Flywheel’s 2015 Year in Review showcased the CEO getting a tattoo of the corporate’s emblem. In honor of the occasion, they made customized non permanent tattoos to ship to anybody who requested them.
  • Create a very jaw-dropping expertise: The Well Done 2006 Annual Report by Bruketa & Žinić required readers to bake—sure, bake—a booklet to see photographs seem inside.

Irrespective of your finances, you’ll be able to at all times provide you with one thing artistic. Your annual report is a large alternative to make a daring assertion—don’t waste it.

For extra spectacular annual stories, check out these 40 examples of truly inspiring annual report design. And for those who want a bit of assist with your personal, C5 would like to chat

Need assistance creating highly effective branded content material? Let Column Five hook you up.

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