If you're in charge of the purse-strings at a company with an April to April financial year, odds are that you're desperately compiling those pie-charts and tables (and don't forget all the references and Appendices) that will show the wider world that you and your fellow employees are making ends meet, nay, even thriving in your various business pursuits.
But the annual report can be as daunting as it is important, so we thought we'd try and ease your way towards post-Q4 nirvana with some handy tips for first timers, and design inspiration for all those struggling with turning 20 pages about margins and incremental gains into this season's most captivating read. Or at the very least tell you how you can make it look pretty.
Know your audience
While that prestigious new account might be your pride and joy your backers or shareholders probably don't want it to be the first item they read. Make sure to put the big ticket items front and centre in an easily consumable form. And remember to tell your brand or company's story. Your annual report is a prospectus for new investors and potential partners alike. Lure them in.
And we're sure you've grown and evolved over the last year so update those existing partners on your new look, style or direction to make them as excited about the next 12 months as you are.
A report by any other name...
Your report is telling a story, so why not give it a catchy title? Let people quickly and easily identify the narrative of the report with a headline that will grab their attention straight out of the gate. '2016 - Targets met and killing in on Twitter' is a tad more interesting than '2016 - a year in review' after all.
Invest in infographics (for 200% more interesting reports!*)
Yes those numbers are undoubtedly important. And everyone loves a good pie chart. But those carefully-crafted graphics shouldn't be the punctuation between formless blocks of (we're sure very well written) text. Bring your figures and facts to life with infographics. These information-packed pictures are an almost unbeatable way to communicate your key stats in a clear, concise and colourful way. (Huum...maybe we should have done this blog post as a infographic?)
And as we're advocating the 'show don't tell' methodology without further ado here's some folks who've smashed the report format in previous years. Go take a gander...
*Yeah, we made that up.
The solar-powered solar power report
Austria Solar went all out for their annual round-up of sun power with a report that was only visible under direct sunlight. Great design too! Read more on Behance.
A cut above
Clear Media Limited's Annual Report for 2014 was a multi-coloured cut out masterpiece created by Phoenix Communications Limited, Hong Kong. It's a rainbow of reporty delight. See more here.
All wrapped up
This company could be accused of getting carried away with their report. (Too much?) See the whole thing here.
Think your report is the business? Why not show it off and get some printed points for your troubles? It all helps the bottom line!