8 – The purpose of Annual Reports
Ep. 8 with some extra ad-adlibbing
Welcome to re-discover your brand podcast episode #8 brought to you by ArtVersion interactive. I’m your host Kip Russell and today we are discussing annual reports why they are important to your company or brand and a few important questions and details to consider when creating them.
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, the time of annual reports is upon us. Many businesses chose to recap their year by publishing an annual report to their shareholders and financial institutions. I don’t want to get into the technical or legal info of annual reports but at a minimum, an annual report must include a balance sheet, a report from an independent auditor, an income statement, and a general report on company operations. Many pro active companies use annual reports as a marketing tool.
Most businesses think of annual reports as a purely financial document, and while that is a part of it, there is a lot more that’s goes into creating a great annual report than just dollar signs. All though I would say that Annual Reports don’t sound to exciting or aren’t the most exciting part of business if done correctly it can provide a message of excitement about the future of your company and what direction and focus you have moving forward in the New Year. That should be reflected in how you produce and design the look of your annual report.
It’s important that you design an annual report that not only tells the financial story, but the entire story of your company. An annual report can include pictures of events or fundraisers you hosted, trade shows you exhibited in, even a Halloween party you threw for your staff. By showing a human side to your business, you produce an opportunity to re-connect with your supporters and partners.
When writing and producing your annual report, it’s important to marry the graphics and the content. A good annual report will have a design that ensures that your business communicates effectively with its readers. Sharing the story of your past year with a combination of words and graphics ensures that you’ll keep readers engaged and informed.
In order to guide the production of an annual report, there are a few questions that are important to answer. Whether you produce your report in house or hire professionals, these questions will help guide your vision:
- Who is your audience?
If you’re a large corporation remember your annual reports will be available to the public as well as your staff. So it’s important to be detailed yet entertaining enough for your reader to be enthused about your brand. If you’re a non profit telling your story and stressing what you’ve done will get people behind your mission. Companies reporting to stock holders need to deliver a message behind the numbers why your company is a solid investment
- What do you want readers to take away from the report?
Once you know your audience your ready to deliver the message your company wants to portray for the coming year.
- What is the tone you want to strike?
- This could be related to many things that happened in the past year. You may need to be hopeful after a bad fiscal year. You may need a call to action if you’re trying to turn things around. If the company had a stellar year it may be celebratory vibe. Its all about what direction you want to take your company
- What do you want the end result to be?
This is very important if are you looking to rally your troops or do you want a call to action, are you congratulating your company after a great year. What you want your end product and message to be will determine how the report is laid out.
Once you’ve answered these questions your ready to start producing your annual reports and content in them.
Producing an effective annual report design is both a science and an art. When working on this year’s annual report, make sure you understand what your end goal is and how you’re going to get there.
In recent years it’s becoming more popular to produce A Green Annual Report. A green annual report is an annual report on a company’s financial status that is printed using production processes that save energy, trees, water, and also reduce waste and greenhouse gases.
Even though nonprofit organizations aren’t required to produce an annual report like publicly traded companies are, most nonprofit managers recognize the value of producing one.
I stress heavily that an annual report can help you demonstrate your accomplishments to current and future donors, cultivate new partnerships, and recognize important people.
Many non-profits have budget constraints but an annual report for a small nonprofit doesn’t have to be as detailed as a 65 page corporate one you can make an effective 2 to 10 page report that fits in a limited budget but still delivers the message and focus you want your audience, donors and members to have.
…That’s it for EPISODE #5 of REDISCOVER YOUR BRAND. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a minute to rate the show on ITUNES.
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Next time on the REDISCOVER YOUR BRAND podcast EPISODE #9, we’ll be talking about brand voice. That’s next time, until then, Thank you for listening – I’m Kip Russell helping you REDISCOVER YOUR BRAND.