Good report design can have many benefits beyond just being easy to read. Some companies overlook the opportunities a report can bring and the importance of it. A report should be a useful piece of communication, both verbally and visually. Sadly more often than not, a corporate report is saturated with reams of text, boring facts and dull figures that feel like a punishment to read. Apart from being informative, if the report isn’t professionally designed and engaging, you run the risk of not only loosing your audience but also potentially doing damage to the overall corporate image. It is an extension of the brand, so it needs to be considered as such. The importance of producing a high quality report was echoed in a PwC study, where 80% of respondents said that, “their perception of the quality of a company’s reporting affects their perception of the quality of its management.” (PwC publication corporate performance: what do investors want to know? September 2014.)
The question is, can you afford not to invest in good report design? If your report isn’t engaging who will read it? And isn’t this the whole point? Of course it is, but it’s more than just making people read about company loss, gains and forecasts. Not only does a report contain valuable information for investors, but it’s also a great tool and opportunity to engage with stakeholders, to tell the company story, to show your successes (and failures), be open about strategy and innovation that can help fulfil company goals. And in turn generate wider support and a true brand following.
What to consider when creating a well-designed report
This is number one in creating good report design. If you don’t have good content, the best-of-the-best of designs aren’t going to do much good. Your content should be:
– Well written (get a copywriter onboard early on).
– Strategic (know what you need and want to say, and to who).
– Structure (make sure the structure of content has a flow and tells a story).
– Holistic and concise (say it well and in tune with corporate beliefs, and say less. Rather direct people to where more info can be obtained).
As important as number one, this is where good report design differentiates a great report from one that isn’t. Key things to consider:
– Style (it’s important to fit in with corporate guidelines and overall brand image).
– Use images and graphics that add value and are relevant.
– Add interest; be engaging (this can be aided through the use of iconography, illustration and box-outs).
– Use infographics that help tell the story and highlight key information in manageable ‘bite-size’ chunks.
– Consider format and size.
A well-printed report has something of value that a digital version can’t compete with. And at the same time the digital version will have attributes a printed version can’t substitute. To have the widest engagement, both a printed and a digital version should be produced.
When printing, the right choice of paper and finishing needs to be considered in order to deliver the right feeling. When creating the digital version, companies should consider the fact that consumers are increasingly using smartphones to view online content, so a responsive mobile-friendly site is a great way to extend engagement with stakeholders, get stats/analytics on page views, as well as creating a place to hold additional in-depth content. There are a great number of successful online reports that have actually gone viral (Mailchimp, Kickstarter and Charity Water to name a few).
What successful corporate reports have in common is that they are taking advantage of the positive effects good report design can have on their bottom line. With the increasing demand for transparency and perfectly aligned communications, we predict more and more companies will focus on making sure that their report/s are considered a vital part of their overall communications strategies.