How to create a powerful annual brand report
Annual reports can have a powerful impact on a brand. They are excellent tools for internal communication, informing stakeholders about the business, its finances, ethos and ambitions. A thoughtfully composed document will promote the brand externally too, perhaps move markets, start a media frenzy and inspire confidence across the board. Thankfully long gone are the days of dull and dreary annual reports. Rather, a successful document will be engaging in its content and design, and logical in its navigation to be easily understood by staff, clients and potential customers.
‘Working closely with the client is essential,’ advises Adam Thomas, Spinach Branding partner and creative director. The London-based specialist consultancy works extensively with diverse international companies to create bespoke annual reports. Recent clients have included the National Lottery operators Camelot, Applegreen, Smart Energy GB, Globaltrans and Globalports, DIPex, and Bestway Group.
Spinach typically provides professional layout and expert design, copywriting and specialist photography to craft reports that are unique to each brand. ‘We follow a proven internal process which includes extensive workshops with the team to extract the necessary client information, before starting to form our conceptual opinions,’ explains Thomas. ‘Our studio brings creativity and energy that excites and engages the client, supported by professional expertise and a great deal of attention to detail. Ultimately this means our clients can depend on us when it comes to producing their annual reports.’
Design is a crucial component in communicating the overarching message of the report. Yet, Thomas believes this also depends on the client’s motives. And even though Spinach is a creative agency, the team take a tailored approach to each project. ‘Great typography is mandatory and clarity through page structure and template is a given, but the graphic design of these reports is to be approached with care. Clear and relevant infographics, well-chosen photography, a strong copy direction – these elements are essential for our annual reports.’
With Camelot, for instance, Spinach’s approach has been to showcase the organisation’s extraordinary business model, so the design reflects the diversity of good causes that are at the heart of the brand. The ongoing annual reports highlight Camelot’s overarching objective of raising money for charities and cultural organisations and showcase the diverse projects that continue to benefit from the funds.
Spinach began working with Applegreen following its acquisition of Welcome Break. With fuel declining as the main source of income within the motorway service area sector, the team identified the importance of conveying the brand’s passion and ambition to lead change in the industry. Following client workshops, the title ‘Reshaping Roadside Retail’ emerged as a way of directing the right tone for the language and design.
More and more companies are now also investing in on-line reports. ‘What’s very interesting and exciting to us is the emergence of the digital annual report, which we have started to build for our customers,’ says Thomas. These have the advantage of be able to provide more dynamic navigation, while you can add video content, infographics and more interactive experiences. ‘We will see more interest in these types of online annual report publications over the coming years.’
Essentially, everything about the report – its content and language tone, design and photography – must reflect the business. After all, these reports communicate the company’s overall brand identity. ‘Often clients come to us with previously produced reports which feel totally isolated from the rest of their corporate brand,’ says Thomas. ‘We always get to the heart of the brand first – then craft an annual report to expand on the corporate identity.’
At the end of the day, the investment will pay off since an intelligent and tailored annual report will have a positive impact on the business. It will support management and staff understand their own business better, help navigate the brand’s future, and act as a great reference for investors. Thomas notes that in many organisations, the annual report can be the sole piece of marketing. ‘So they need to be handled with care.’
Spinach Branding is a specialist branding agency based in London. We work with established businesses and start-ups around the world to build and refine their brands. See how we work and get in touch to discuss your brand.< Back