The 5 Fundamentals of Great Annual Report Design

The Code of Great Annual Reporting
For 20 years we have been developing corporate brands and communications. Our work has seen
us decode much of the brand and corporate communication landscape, working for businesses across all sectors operating in national and international markets.

AR:ReView is the culmination of us turning our decoding methodology towards defining the a market oriented criteria for creating annual reporting content to global best practice standards.

As we lead the thinking for our clients on their brand definition and communication, we see AR:ReView as a natural extension of how their brands connect with their shareholders and stakeholders, answering the questions:
• How can shareholder reporting be more informative
and accessible?
• How can we best provide the information investors and the market value, in a format that is more engaging, more functional, and easier to understand?

An Overview – The 5 fundamentals of great annual reporting
If you adopt just five of the best practice principles for improving the communication of your next
annual report, here’s what they should be:

01. High Level Information
Does your report provide a summary of performance for each area of business performance with highlights of the year’s major milestones. Make this information graphic, eye-catching and easy to grasp.

02. The Big Picture
Market intelligence plays a vital role in the life of every organisation. Does your report provide your shareholders with a qualified market perspective?

03. Measurable and Comparable
Does your report clearly identify the key performance indicators for your organisation? Does it compare your results for these KPIs against previous years performance, and against the market?

04. Forward Thinking
Insight into an organisation’s vision for the future is highly valued in the context of shareholder communication. Does your report communicate where you’re heading and the challenges you will face in getting there?

05. Text Appeal
Whilst all successful organisations present themselves in a professional and appealing manner
across all their activities, their annual reports are often the exception to the rule. Does your report present your organisation in a professional manner that reflects it’s standing in the business and investment community?

Working Together to Create Better Annual Reports
If you’d like to read more, click on the pic above to download a full copy of the AR:Review, including an audit of the 2009 Annual Reports of Australia’s top 10 publicly listed Companies.

In 2009 we worked with several clients to shift their reports to our new framework. We’d love to run through them with you to get your thoughts, and to discuss how this framework can make your 2010 annual reporting both easier and more effective. Interested? Why not get in touch?

Cassandra Gill, Design Director.


  1. The 5 fundamentals of great annual reporting is a great rule for anyone putting together a annual report. Some great examples here, I especially like the Annual Report designed for Vic Health. Clean and clear. You can easily grab the important statistics from the information. Very nice.


  2. This is a really great framework for putting together an annual report. Both from the perspective of content and look – I agree with where you’re coming from think the examples at the back are spot-on. Plenty of room for improvement.

  3. very happy to find your site and your posts.
    Question: how does photography impact the brand storytelling process/product? We focus 90% business headshots and encourage clients to co-create images that help stengthen their personal and company brand.

    How does photography affect brands?


  4. The brand’s visual language (photography, illustration, etc.) is a crucial part of the storytelling of the brand. If the photography doesn’t reflect the brand’s personality, and is off-brand, it can confuse the brand message and have a negative impact. Good quality photography should be used to reinforce the brand and enhance the storytelling. Your effort to encourage your clients to strengthen their brand should be applauded.

  5. Love the colour palette in the Vic Health annual report design. This is a good top 5 list for ar’s and in this day and age being able to summarise is as relevant as ever. Its likely your audience will only spend 3-5 mins reading the annual report.

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