Annual report creative concepts

Annual reports are strange beasts, they are technical, financial reporting documents that have to ‘do a job’. But they are so much more that that. The majority of reports we produce at Navig8 have a wider remit than just reporting on the the previous year’s financial operations.

So what is the process and what should you expect when commissioning creative work for an annual report?

These are the things a client will need to deliver to begin the process. This should be a collaborative process.

Whilst every organisation might have to report to the board (or even government and Privy Council), once that box has been ticked, what else can we do with an annual report and how does creativity fit into all of this?

Here’s a list of things you might want to consider when briefing a designer on your annual report:

  • Describe the overarching message; try to keep to one and keep it unique and simple. A good example would be ‘Bridging the gap between education and employment’. A bad one might be ‘Making a difference though building advocates on a global platform’. I’ve had worse

  • Ensure the designer understands the company’s brand values

  • Consider weaving more engaging material though the document rather than putting it all into one section. Engaging content may include case studies, top-level figures or highlighting the year’s achievements

  • Whilst it’s nice to see a picture of Jenny getting an award, it’s nicer to see a picture of how your organisation has had an impact on peoples lives

  • Consider commissioning photography, it is not as expensive as you may think. A day shoot can cover a huge range of subjects, even a half day can make a report shine. Quality photography can be key to making an engaging report

  • Cover images do not have to try to communicate every aspect of the organisation, pick one theme for the year.

What to expect when receiving creative concepts

The way we do it at Navig8 – I mean approach a creative brief for an annual report, is this:

  • Question the brief and try to understand a creative ‘steer’, understanding the messaging and tone

  • Deliver a minimum of three creative concepts. These will come in the form of a cover and spread for each concept.

  • We then follow that up with treatments for the accounts. This will all meet reporting best practise and diligently follow the CFO’s data. You’d be surprised at how good you can make them look. Reporting should be subject to FRC guidelines.

  • We aim to deliver exactly what you asked for, something you hadn’t thought of and something you’d never dream of.

What are the next steps?

  • Consider the concepts and feedback comments. Try not to mix concepts, that never works. If something isn’t working for you, describe the issue rather than trying to offer the solution.

  • Even at this early stage, it is worth running the concepts past the final decision maker, without their input at this stage you run the risk of endless creative rounds.

  • When you get to a solution that you want to run with, we will ask you to sign it off and the signed off designs will form the basis for your first full proof. It’s important to understand that design changes after that, in terms of: the grid, headline styles etc, will incur additional work.

Things to bear in mind

  • If the report is to be printed, the page count must be divided by four

  • Delete blank pages or notes pages for the digital PDF version

  • Cramming content on a page makes it harder to read, adding a few pages has little impact on cost

  • Try to have content proofed and signed off at the highest level – I know it is hard, but it saves money and time in the long run

  • Revising data in charts means starting again. When we design charts, it’s not like Excel where you can just change the figures and the chart changes. Sorry.

Examples of our annual report designs can be found here. Here you can find some other articles related to annual reports:


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