A fantastic report needs effort. Remember the school report card and what was the purpose of it? It acted as a mirror. It showed us (and our parents), our performance during the last academic year. Similarly, a company/organization’s annual report needs to communicate this. It needs to standout in clear and catchy presentation of revenue growth, business metrics and its design.
An annual report design agency is hired to design engaging annual reports. Think about it. Your company’s annual report will be viewed by stakeholders, investors and consumers alike. It needs to tell a story. The story of the year. It needs to make business numbers look non-mundane.
Through this ‘annual report design guide’, we will understand what is a report, what are the types of a report, what goes into the making of a report, and importantly, how can that same report be made better by hiring a report design agency?
Tell us how helpful this guide has been to you, by leaving your comments below. Before we get to annual reports and annual report designing agencies, let’s get a brief understanding of a generic report. Let’s get started…
2. How to write a report?
A report is a document that contains in-depth information about a specific subject, compiled after great research. Reports are then published – digitally or in print. A report is filled with analytical information, and therefore, needs to be written & designed in such a way that even a layman can quickly understand its purpose. The following steps will handhold you through the writing of a report. You could consider them as ‘tips on writing a report’ as well.
Step 1 – Identify a purpose
Why are you writing a report? What type of report do you want to write? Will the report have enough information to be even called a report? Can the report talk about a company’s business dealings? Is the report about somebody’s medical history? Is it a case study you want to cover via this report?
Define a purpose first, then move ahead.
Step 2 – Target your audience
Who will be reading your report? Will the report be available for an online download? Will the report be understood by your reader? Do the readers have any background knowledge about the industry you are writing about?
Understand your primary audience’s preferences, and then start researching it. The primary audience needs to be fed with technical data. The secondary audience can be attended to, by providing them with any supplementary information towards the end of the report.
Step 3 – Start your research
If you don’t work on researching enough for the report subject, your report will end up containing irrelevant data. Presenting a report means proving a point. You pick a topic, research on that topic, present fact-based data and conclude your observation. Well-referenced work always gets noticed.
Don’t just rely on Wikipedia and source your information from newspapers, books, journals, brochures, annual reports, speeches, and websites.
Step 4 – Structure the report
Once the research is done, the report needs to be arranged in a manner that is easy to understand. Draft an outline for the report. The outline acts like a blueprint. You will get to know which areas need finetuning and which sections can be streamlined. A standard report contains the following elements:
- Title of the report
- Author’s summary
- Table of Contents
- Introduction to the report
- Body of the report
Once done with writing, arranging and adding images (if needed); review for spelling, grammar and tonality.
2.1 Which are the different types of reports?
Although a report could be prepared for any subject, with relevant information and data, the most common ones we have come across are:
- Appraisal report
- Annual report
- Informal report
- Audit report
- Census report
- Book report
- Experience report
- Bound report
- Credit bureau report
- Retail report
- Demographic report
- Inspection report
- First Information Report
- Progress report
- Expense report
- White papers
- Technical report
- Scientific report
3. What is the meaning of an annual report?
An annual report is a document that is primarily financial. Private or public companies summarize their transactions, targets, hits, and misses into a single document. Accompanying the financial information is a letter from the company CEO or Chairman.
It also includes the cash flow statement, discussion on company affairs, income statement and the balance sheet.
“Other guys read Playboy, I read annual reports”
3.1 What are the contents in an annual report?
An annual report is made up of 4 sections which cover all the major aspects and appendages of the company. The annual report sections are:
1. Message from management
An annual report provides an excellent opportunity for management to communicate with company stakeholders. Almost all annual reports start with a message from either the Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the Board of Directors. The message is a summary of how the company has grown during the past year.
2. Management analysis
Following the management message, comes a detailed management analysis of financial operations. The analysis includes information with regards to:
- Revenue growth
- Net income
- Asset sales
- Operating expenses
- Any changes from previous reports
- Cash flow statement
3. Financial information
As the heading says, this section covers financial information, such as:
- Last 10 years’ finance figures
- Current stock prices
- Balance sheet information
- Income statement data
- Cash flow statement figures
- Comparison as per financial trends (current to previous years)
- Information regarding donations
- Grants distributed
The income statement gives an overview of company earnings. Total sales & individual expenses are also documented within an income statement. The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the company’s liabilities and assets. The cash flow statement covers information about to cash inflow/outflow.
Following the financial information, additional notes are provided about each financial aspect. An income statement will carry a note explaining the type of sale being made. Capitalized leases or debt insurance is covered in the balance sheet notes. Tax payments are covered by notes to the cash flow statement.
4. Shareholder goodwill
To appease company shareholders, such as government officials & creditors, all financial items are presented in a structured report format.
In case a company does not possess exhaustive financial data, the bulk of the report is dedicated to gathering public goodwill. This section talks about the company ideals, company mission or belts out a rallying to its employees.
Team photographs, morale-boosting employee testimonials and community service highlights adorn this section. Top performing employees are recognized. The final item within the annual report will feature a call-to-action. It could be a rallying cry to improve performance, achieve targets or participate in company upliftment activities.
3.2 What does an annual report design agency do?
Ah, now we get to the crux of this report design guide. We looked at what a report is. We discussed some report writing tips. Let’s assume that you are working in an organization. Your CEO or Chairman asks you to compile an annual report. The finished report will be shown to all company shareholders and the general public as well. You agree to get it done.
You make use of the above-mentioned report writing tips. You keep all the relevant data ready. You even create a report outline, knowing what comes after what. Are you satisfied with the finished report? Is the report worthy to be shared among your company’s primary shareholders? Does your annual report standout from what is already been done before? Will the investors feel reassured with regard to how the company has performed?
A simple solution to avoid embarrassment is to hire a professional annual report design agency.
An annual report design firm will collate all your report inclusive data and figures, define a solid core message and build an engaging & visually appealing report. The major tasks that are carried out by an annual report design agency are:
A design agency ensures that every report design project starts by asking the right questions. The job of an agency is to look at company history, organization industry/sector, target audience research, etc. This gives them the understanding to adopt the right direction.
2. Tell a story
That’s right. Your annual report should tell a story. The story acts like a pillar, on which your report’s facts & figures hold on to. There is a creative flow to the report, which keeps the reader engaged.
A mundane annual report can be brought to life with the use of attractive visuals. The visuals could be infographics, charts or graphs. Based on the story crafted by the design agency, relevant visuals are designed to complement figures or text. Complex information is always presented through ‘bite-sized’ visuals.
The typography chosen is a balance between functionality and design. The size of the font used, the type of font and spacing between text is essential in making the design look professional.
5. Report format
Leave the choosing of report format to the report design agency. A top annual report design agency knows what format works best for which audience. It could be a microsite or a glossy style-filled booklet. The finish of the report is also looked after by the design agency. This could cover anything from binding options to paper stock.
3.3 What are the traits of a top creative report design agency?
It takes years of creative design experience, goodwill and effort to become a top annual report design agency in India. What makes a top design agency stand out is the professional approach it takes when working a client’s annual report requirements.
The best annual report agency will:
- Work with the client through every stage of the report design process
- Systematically follow every step i.e. research, planning, deadlines, feedback
- Prepare mood boards and involve in creative research
- Review every element of content worked on i.e. image assets, data, figures
- Finalize the design through multiple rounds of design development
- Proofread, edit, art-work and sign off
- Strive to deliver the project as per the deadline
- Be proactive in approach, using tools to stay organized
- Ensure every stage of the design process is reviewed with client stakeholders
- Turn the report to a digital version to be shared on social media, emailers or PDF
3.4 Why must you hire a professional annual report design agency?
Although your annual report contains valuable corporate and financial information, it should be treated as a book of numbers. An annual report provides a concise recap of all business information for the past year.
A report is a communication tool that tells the company investors and company shareholders as to how beneficial their contribution is to the company. The crux of any annual report is its financial information. A huge challenge for the report design agency is to keep readers engaged through design techniques. Therefore, the main reasons to hire an annual report design agency are:
1. Get more than reporting
Let’s be honest. 3 to 4 sections into the report, the interest level falls. There needs to be some creativity, some excitement when going through an annual report. An experienced report design agency will visually highlight a company’s fiscal year achievements.
The design agency knows how to mix the aesthetic elements, such as infographics, pictures, and graphs, to keep readers engaged. An addition of spiced up charts/graphs will uncomplicate your company’s complex financial data.
A report design agency’s job is to convert your annual report into a marketing tool. Your company’s strengths, commitment, and fighting spirit are all portrayed with gusto. This is because the company needs its shareholders to support them continually.
2. The report is the brand
If an annual report works as a marketing tool, you might as well showcase it to emphasize the company’s brand. A report design agency will work on enhancing your company’s brand image by portraying your company’s brand mission, brand vision & brand persona.
A report design agency builds the report as a step-by-step process. The theme, story, typeface, colors, graphics & visuals, are all combined to form one brand package.
3. Building an accessible report
Almost all annual reports are printed in the form of a booklet. This is then mailed to the respective stakeholders. A design agency will print the report in a booklet format, and also make the report accessible via interactive PDFs. These can be shared or viewed online. Digital annual reports are increasingly preferred nowadays for convenient, on-the-go reading.
After such a long blog post, we wouldn’t want to harp on about our services. But, for those who want to know what we do;
We are a Goa based, business communication agency that offers the best services for digital marketing, advertising, content marketing, brand storytelling, annual reports and presentation design.
Synapse’s brand design team works as per your brand guidelines to create an impactful brand identity. We work on crafting impactful brand experiences for every business.
We ensure better internal communication between you, your employees, your clients, your customers & your investors. Improve your company workforce efficiency and grow your profit margin through creative business communication.
We are experts – probably the best in India – for creating beautiful PowerPoint presentations that make your pitch deck standout. We are probably India’s best PowerPoint designers.
Our internationally award winning annual report designing experts present your company’s annual profits digitally. Impress investors with innovative & interactive report designs. Corporate reporting is our forte.
Improve your company sales targets by designing marketing collateral that attracts your customers and clients. Increase business sales by opting for effective content & marketing strategies.
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If you want to embed business storytelling into your business’ mundane internal or external business communications, then hire us. You won’t regret it…hit the button below to get in touch with someone from our team