29 Nov, 2019

You can’t avoid it. Publishing an annual report is mandatory for the listed companies in India. Instead of looking at it as an obligation, companies should consider this an opportunity.

This once-a-year piece of business communication contains a wealth of information. Although, tedious to collate and document, an annual report is a very powerful marketing tool.

It’s all about perceptions. The fundamental purpose of publishing a company annual report is to identify and embrace audience perceptions. The annual report should tell a story that engages the reader.

An annual report that simply portrays business insights in a statement format, often loses an opportunity to bolster its brand. A story woven within your report can present financial data in an engaging way.

The report tells a story

An annual report provides an opportunity to engage with,

  • company employees
  • company stakeholders
  • industry colleagues
  • competitors
  • general public

Each reader will try to take something away from the report. Writing a report that also tells a story needs crisp content and captivating imagery.

Words and visuals play an important role in storytelling. Both work synchronously to make report-reading an experience.

An annual report that only presents business numbers will fail to engage. An annual report should be referred to as a ‘communication report’. This report must be an integral aspect of a company’s brand.

We love stories. That is why any company that looks to publish an annual report needs to embrace the power of stories in business.

An annual report is a great opportunity to speak about the company brand exclusively. The report must tell a compelling story and supplement the building of the brand.

The key aspects of storytelling are:

Generating interest – This can be achieved by turning mundane financial information into engaging elements of storytelling

Educating the audience – Readers understand the contents of the report better through an interactive story

Connection with the company – There can be no interaction with a faceless corporation. By humanizing the report, there is an emotional attachment which connects to people.

Confidence in the organization – A compelling story, backed with real data can increase trust among the audience

Through storytelling, your annual report is depicted as a journey. This story begins from the company’s inception, asserting the brand mission, and setting up a brand vision. Talking about company origins, and addressing the audience as one-of-their-own can get them to feel more connected.

The annual report story then proceeds into educating the audience about the company’s financial investments. Trust is built, as business practises, and financial numbers are displayed in a clear manner with stylish design.

The story then introduces the leadership characters that helped the company through the last year. From the CEO to the various departments, the characters are all given a face.

A section of the report is dedicated to acknowledging the hard work of the real company heroes.

The report is based on a theme. Award-winning annual report designers are hired by companies to create a theme that runs through the length of the report. This theme is again based on the story.

Through vibrant colours, and visuals, the company culture is showcased. Brand voice, report copy, style of presentation, and stories, creatively stamp your company culture through the report.

The story does not end with the report. Hope and encouragement are provided for the coming year.