Wrap Up Your Year with a Bright, Attractive Annual Report

Ah, the annual report. These words conjure thoughts of suit-clad business executives huddled around a boardroom table reviewing “the numbers”. Certainly not an inclusive, engaging or even remotely exciting thought for most people. But an annual report IS so much more than a financial audit.


At the most basic level, your annual report is a review of what you achieved throughout the year and an outlook on the coming year.

A large chunk of your annual report may include, as most do, audited financial documents. And the typical target audience for an annual report may wear a well-tailored jacket or snazzy tie – shareholders and stakeholders.

The annual report has evolved, though, into a marketing tool with an increased party of readers including employees as well as suppliers and clients. This expanded audience renders the traditional approach of a highly technical black-and-white printed document, well, ineffective.


A designer can help you create an effective annual report that’s attractive, easy to consume and resonates with all the diverse members of your audience.

A designer can help you take advantage of this tool and turn it into a powerful marketing – and even fundraising – piece for your organization. We’ve found a few tried-and-true elements that must be incorporated into your efforts to achieve this.


1.The Use of Infographics

Infographics use images to create a visual interpretation of numbers and statistics. They are a great way to break up the deluge of text and numbers in your annual report. This stops the reader if they’re skimming and encourages absorption of information.

Men VS Women Infographic Example An example infographic of Men Vs. Women who like Waypoint Creative Services Facebook Page.


Readers appreciate infographics, too, as this visual representation can make the data easier to understand. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!


2.Your Brand Story

We could make the argument that this is the most important element that must be included in your annual report. Sharing your brand story will introduce the reader to your journey and show how your organization has strived toward its goals.

While making your organization the hero of the journey is often done with word choice and copy, using graphic design elements that incorporate your brand colours and imagery will reinforce it.

When your designer uses photos or graphics that align with your mission and vision, the mirror effect multiplies your storytelling efforts. These image choices can also connect your team to the brand story, sharing their support of the journey and giving credit where credit is due. Effective imagery is also inclusive to your audience, ensuring they can see their role in the story, too.


3.Dynamic Medium

Who doesn’t enjoy receiving mail that isn’t bills, right? Yet, for many organizations with a hierarchy or multiple branches, the standard paper copy isn’t the most effective way to distribute your annual report. Having a digital version as well as a hard copy can help you make it more accessible, save printing costs, and send it further geographically. Plus, there’s longevity to a digital version which will be available long after you run out of paper copies.

Providing a digital copy of your annual report can be as simple as making it into a universally readable and downloadable PDF document. For magazine style, many organizations use Issuu (which also has a robust free platform).


Our favourite examples of annual reports are dynamic, colourful and easy to read.

There’s nothing more frustrating to a designer than poor design. One organization wanted graphs. All the graphs. SO. MANY. GRAPHS.  But all those numbers and lines lacked personality and the connection to the reader. While the organization had a strong sense of team and community, those digits just couldn’t communicate it.

So, when we see great design, we sit up and take note. We’re inspired by:

  • The Sackville Business Association who mails out an easily digestible card that translates really well into a digital space.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates association who makes you feel like your one of the family in their annual letter.
  • Flywheel’s mesmerizing number counters actually had us stopping at each segment of their 2015 annual report so we could see how high they’d go.
  • This magazine-style annual report from Colchester Communities and the Communities Foundations of Canada effectively combines graphs and infographics.

Is it annual report time for your organization? Contact Waypoint Creative Services for help creating a document you’re proud to share!