Annual report design: How to make an impact
Annual reports represent in-depth and comprehensive reports that thoroughly and clearly explain a company’s activities from the previous year. That is if they’re done right. The truth is that annual report design is every bit as important as the content itself.
In any business, annual reports are extremely important to get right. It’s actually the most crucial piece of content for your brand because these reports tell who you are, what you do, and how you are succeeding.
The problem with annual reports is that it can take time to create and perfect. If you’re a busy person, you may not always have the time to sink into making a decent annual report. When presentation day comes around, or when someone either within the company or outside the company sees the report, it may not be the best representation of your brand.
That’s where this article comes in. Sure, you may not have all the time in the world, but trust me when I say that if you’re creating an annual report anytime soon, this article will be a great source of design tips, annual report examples, and even some free templates that you can grab and start using right away.
Annual report design tips and tricks
The most important thing for your annual report is, of course, the numbers and data. Without those, there would be no point in creating the report in the first place. That being said, how you present said data is also very important.
Although each brand is different and the annual report design will reflect that, there are some tips and tricks that you can use to give yourself a good foundation.
- Don’t overwhelm the page
- Keep it professional
- Use lots of visuals
- Create a table of contents
- Make it interactive
Let’s look at each annual report design tip one at a time.
Don’t overwhelm the page
Keep in mind that people in your company and potential outside of the company will be carefully analyzing your annual report. For companies posting their annual reports for investors and other stakeholders, this is a big deal.
But, if you’re worried about privacy, keep in mind that you can make annual reports in Flipsnack and choose exactly who you want to share them with. Want to share it via email with only employees? You can do that. With Flipsnack, you have plenty of sharing options, both public and private.
Keep it professional
This is a working environment. A clean design and keeping the brand story is incredibly important. Although it may not seem as important, branding and your brand story are a big focus for a lot of annual reports, and it should be for yours, too.
With Flipsnack, you can keep it uniform with branding across all your publications, not just your annual reports. With our branding options, you can upload custom fonts, colors, and images in seconds, and even publish annual reports and other private documents under your own custom domain.
Use lots of visuals
Visuals are a great way to help drive the point. When you’re talking about raw data, a graph can help people better understand how said data is affecting the company. Have a lot of information that might spread across multiple pages? Perhaps some imagery can help you summarize it better, and keep the attention of the reader.
Create a table of contents
Whether your annual report is 10 pages or 100 pages long, a table of contents is a quick and easy way to help guide readers to the content that they’re looking for.
With a table of contents, it’s very important to provide links to each section that’s mentioned. For example, if you have an introduction, a month-to-month breakdown, and then a section dedicated to the budget, it’s very useful for the reader to be able to click on the table of contents and go straight to that section.
Make it interactive
Let’s be honest with ourselves here, annual reports aren’t supposed to be like going to a carnival. In fact, I’m sure many annual reports have allowed some employees to catch up on some much-needed rest at some point.
Making it interactive with videos, GiFs, links, and other elements is a great way to keep the readers’ attention. Then, you can track the data through statistics through Flipsnack to understand how they’re interacting with the report, how long they’re staying on certain pages, and so on.
If you already have an annual report in PDF format, you can also upload it directly in the Design Studio, add some interactive elements, and share it through one or more of our sharing options.
Annual report templates
Okay, I hear you, this still sounds like a lot of work. For those of us that are extra busy come annual report time, even following guidelines like the ones above sounds like it could take a lot of time. In all honesty, it can, and that’s why we created some incredible, free, and editable annual report templates for you to grab, edit, and impress with.
1. Fundraising Report Template
Fundraising reports help you keep track of many aspects of fundraising such as the results and efforts you’ve made throughout the year. In this way, you keep updated your sponsors and prove transparency and accuracy. They can also show you what’s left to do the next year to reach your goals. This fundraising annual report template from Flipsnack is the perfect one for your non-profit organization. It features a minimalist design altogether with splashes of color; but it also remains professional with the help of light blue and white shades scattered throughout. Don’t wait any longer, take advantage of it now!
2. Black & White Business Report Template
Putting together an informative and interesting business annual report is not an easy job to do. How can you make it eye-catching when generally there are only dull and boring business reports? Simple: use the business annual report template from above. It is minimalistic and clean, yet elegant and explanatory. The black and white colors are always a safe option, trust me! Perfect for every type of business. Bonus tip: make your business annual report more interactive by embedding videos. Cool, right?
3. Humanitarian Foundation Annual Report Template
These types of reports are one of my favorites because they really touch my heart. From my point of view, designing an annual report for a humanitarian charity involving child care has to make a powerful statement. That’s why this annual report template pairs perfectly significant images of children with straightforward information. Your audience will be thrilled to see such a beautiful report! Try it now, it’s free.
4. Annual Sales Report Template
It’s that time of year again when you have to make the annual sales reports of the company where you’re working. Lots of charts, numbers, graphics, and diagrams, right? There’s a lot of work to do until you succeed in compiling all data. And, you have to think of the report’s design. Don’t lose hope, this orange annual report template from here is ready to come and rescue you! Personalize it and impress your boss, colleagues, and clients.
5. Financial Annual Report Template
Who says that a financial annual report template can’t be elegant and chic? Here’s a perfect example of such a report. The minimalist and delicate design is perfect for any occasion. The light colors, the neat font, and representative charts draw up a simply gorgeous report. No more stress when it comes to presenting the company statistics. Just grab this financial annual report template, and enjoy.
6. Business Annual Report Template
I have to admit, I really really like business reports! They are one of the most challenging annual report examples for me because they’re usually considered boring and I like to be creative and design them cool and catchy. Just like this one from here. It is elegant, informative and not boring at all! But do you know what I like most about this business report? The perfect balance between image and text that makes the layout look very professional.
By the way, you can customize it to the fullest and add your company’s branding. Important design aspects such as the logo or custom colors can be easily added to this business annual report template. Designing business annual reports have never been easier and more fun!
7. Modern & Clean Annual Report Template
I present to you another gorgeous annual report template from Flipsnack. The bright green and white colors make the layout look stunning, catchy and dynamic. The best part is that even if it looks perfect for environmental presentations, it’s easily customizable to any type of professional report. It surely makes you think of a healthy world and life, right? Use this annual report example to light up boring meetings.
8. Modern Sales Report Template
Feeling tired of the same old presentations? I have great news for you! Here’s a modern sales report template that knocks out the boredom. It can be used to fit any business presentation, really. No matter if you’re on the lookout for a sales report template or a simple company presentation, this template will make your life easier. You have to admit, the dark blue and yellow colors look gorgeous! Don’t forget to also incorporate your brand’s colors, this is super important.
9. Blue Annual Report Template
One thing’s for sure: annual reports are important. But, as important as they are, they can be quite time-consuming, and definitely stressful. Only the ones who have to make such reports understand this. This blue annual report template from Flipsnack is here to give you a helping hand. It looks good, professional, and elegant. And you have to admit that the blue color gives you a peaceful feeling. What more could you possibly ask for? Unleash your imagination and create the most exceptional annual report ever!
10. Modern Annual Sales Report Template
This annual report template uses the classic black and white foundation and adds a splash of color to really make it pop. From front to back, the lines and design stays clean, but there’s always something else on the page to help draw in the readers’ attention. Striking imagery, easy-to-understand graphs, and a minimalistic design, what else could you need?
If any of the templates above spark your interest, they’re all free to use. All you have to do is click on the image, and you’ll be taken to the Design Studio where you can change, remove, add, and edit any aspect of the template.
But let’s say that you’re looking for a different kind of report, and you don’t want to have to edit too much. Well, we’ve still got your back.
Other report templates that you can use right now
Reports come in all shapes and sizes. Some might be for the week, for the month, or for a single project. Here’s a quick list of report template examples that you can use right now.
Black And White Monthly Report Template
This black and white monthly report template is perfect for the minimalist in all of us. It’s simple, clean, and utilizes the white spaces to make sure that all eyes are on your data. That being said, it still has striking imagery, a section for a table of contents, and plenty of space for you to get creative.
Real Estate Marketing Report Template
If you’re in the real estate business, then this template is just for you. A real estate marketing report template is great for agents wanting to explain the market to new and potential buyers. The housing market is always changing, so a resource like this is helpful for everyone involved.
Blue Weekly Status Report Template
Weekly reports can be good for projects big or small. With this blue weekly status report template, you can keep all stakeholders updated on a week-to-week basis, avoiding any unnecessary confusion and answering providing an opportunity to answer any questions. The blue-based design will provide eye-catching visuals to help make the report more appealing to the eye.
Monthly Financial Report Template
A big part of a report is discussing and analyzing finances. With this monthly financial report template, you can do exactly that, but with style. Each page gives you adequate room to explain your finances, highlight some details, and add your own images if you need to.
Modern Weekly Project Status Report Template
Projects of any size need to have complete transparency with everyone involved. With this modern weekly project status report template, you can easily summarize the previous week’s achievements, highlights, and obstacles. This simple design offers plenty of room for you to add your own data and plenty of colors to complement anything you might want to add.
Again, each one of these templates is free to use and 100% editable. Any element that you see on the page can be edited, removed, added to, and much more. The best part is that the Design Studio makes it easy, and an annual report edit can take literally minutes. Take a look for yourself, and put the worry of designing the next report behind you.
Annual report design examples
A good way to picture how you want your annual report to look is to take inspiration from others. Well, here at Flipsnack, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing quite a few impressive annual reports roll through. Take a look.
Business and corporate reports are often dull or boring. But not this annual report example. This report layout is very engaging because it uses a nice combination of colors and illustrations, which makes the layout very dynamic-looking.
You can’t expect anything less than perfection from an Amnesty International report. Even though it is not an annual report sample, this layout can be adapted to any type of professional report.
Another great example of a good report, presenting some of the key achievements of the organization. If you want to check the full report click on the image above, and you will see that all the pages are professionally designed and suitable for annual report design inspiration.
If there have been some changes in the board committee, the information should be put in your corporate newsletter. Additionally, you can dedicate one layout to present the management team / board in your annual report.
What I like about this layout is how the designer used subtle borders to separate the different sections of the report. Each section also has a label, which makes it easier for the reader to scan the page for information.
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples, but they were all done with Flipsnack. Some of them were uploaded directly into Flipsnack as a PDF, some of them started from templates, and some of them were done completely from scratch. However, all of them are incredibly impressive.
Annual report designs from big brands
If you’re still looking for inspiration, look no further. For me, one of the best ways to get things done is to see how industry leaders are doing it. Luckily, many big brands around the world publicly post their annual reports for the world to see.
As a leader in the oil and gas industry, one might expect BP to maybe not care so much about how their annual report looks. After all, they are trendsetters, not necessarily ones to follow suit. But, you would be shocked if you took a look at BP’s 2021 annual report.
From top to bottom, the annual report is filled with branding imagery, messaging, and colors. Take a look at how much all of this stands out when compared to Apple’s annual report. Not that Apple did anything wrong, but BP really went for it with the branding element and absolutely nailed it. It’s inviting, inspiring, and intriguing, all in one!
For their 2021 annual report, Microsoft took a different approach and published it directly on their website. This is a great idea for any brand with their own website because it immediately reinforces the brand identity and makes it more personal with the CEO’s face. In fact, if you take a look, you’ll see that the colorful logo and name stays at the top as your scroll.
Again, Microsoft is really helpful with easy-to-read graphs and tables, but they also use a much friendly approach and tone throughout. For investors and stakeholders in the company, this is a great and much more digestible way to read an annual report.
Unicef’s 2020 annual report is something of a masterpiece. Much like BP, Unicef decided to take a more colorful and personal route with vibrant imagery and a story right at the top. They start by listing some important branding and they follow it up with a foreword by the brand’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore.
You don’t have to stare at the annual report long to see the amount of work and detail that went into its creation. Everything from the footer of the pages to the table of contents has meaning, and it helps Unicef produce a heck of a story. This is perfect for any stakeholder in the brand.
Everyone knows Tesco, but not everyone knows what they’re all about. That is until they read just a few pages into their 2021 annual report.
From beginning to end, Tesco helps define what an annual report should be. Again, you have the imagery, the colors, and the helpful table of contents, sure, but you also have a story. They start with the brand story, telling everyone how many employees work there, what their goals are, and how they appreciate and rely on their customers.
After a brief introduction, they immediately jump into the highlights. This is a great idea for any brand. Think about it. Not everyone wants to or has the time to read the whole report. A brief breakdown right at the top is a great way to make sure all the important data is seen and shared.
If you take a look at this annual report from Apple you’ll see a lot of information. 82 pages of information to be exact. And while it’s not exactly interactive, there are a few key elements that stand out.
For one, every time they mention some significant data, it’s followed up by an easy-to-understand graphic chart. This really helps people understand what these numbers mean, especially in relation to the quarter or year before.
Secondly, they’re very, very consistent throughout, and start the presentation with their logo and company information. And, as you go down, page by page, you’ll see their branding at the bottom of every single page.
How to make an annual report
Now, we’ve seen some pretty amazing annual report examples, but how do you create one of your own? The rules for creating an annual report aren’t necessarily written in stone. Sure, we’ve gone over lots of helpful tips, but until you really get into it yourself, it’s hard to understand how it will play out. So for that reason, we’re going to break down how you can create an annual report of your own in just a few easy steps. Here’s how to create an annual report:
- Pick from one of our amazing annual report templates, start from scratch, or upload your already-made PDF report..
- Use the Design Studio to make the template your own, create an incredible design of your own with the drag-and-drop functionality, or jump straight to adding interactive elements with your annual report PDF.
- Add graphs, data, images, and more to really get the readers engaged. Don’t forget the table of contents!
- Once everything is looking perfect, save the report, and decide how you want to share it. You can embed it in your website, share it via email, make it private so that only those whom you choose can see it, and a lot more.
What does an annual report include?
Despite everything we mentioned above, you may still be on the fence. Don’t panic. Annual report examples, are always so interesting to see because each company is so different with its examples. But, that’s exactly what they are – examples. No matter what, your annual report will be unique with your own data, images, and content. Keeping that in mind, here are some things that you should always include in your annual report:
- An introduction to your company – Who are you, what does your company stand for?
- A table of contents – Guide the readers to each section right at the top to avoid confusion
- Some highlights – Right after the ToC, talk about some major achievements to really get their attention
- Plenty of graphs and data breakdowns – Some people aren’t going to pick up on the importance of numbers in written form. Throw them in a graph to really show off
- Colors, colors, colors – Every brand has brand colors. Even if it’s black and white, find a way to integrate something with a little more flair
- Imagery – Whether it’s the company retreat, customers using your products, or employees showing off their work space, give the readers something to connect to other than words and numbers
- A thank you note – This is something that not every annual report example has, but should always include. Thank the people that are responsible for that data, including your loyal customers.
Conclusions and takeaways
What can we take away from all of this? Well, for starters, annual reports are a great way to really show what your company is all about, your accomplishments over the past year, highlights that you’re proud of, and obstacles that you all overcame. Think of your annual report as an extension of everything the brand stands for, broken down into meaningful data for stakeholders to see. You should be proud to report, and the report itself should reflect that.
For all your customizable annual report needs, Flipsnack has your back. With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design studio, templates that you can use in just one click, and features that will help you take your annual report from just another boring document to a world-class fun and interactive presentation. Try it out for free, and let your brand spirit shine.