Corporate reports are about more than words on a page. They’re an insight into the status of an organisation and offer a moment to reflect on the progress and future of the company. Yet we often see business reports that are as dull as dishwasher – text heavy and devoid of personality.
Visual presentation can make the difference between a dreary report and a great one. Gender pay gap reports are a good example – the ones that stand out are the ones where companies have gone beyond just including text and tables, and have used infographics, charts and photography to bring their report to life.
When we’re designing corporate reports for our clients, one of the first pieces of advice that we give is to think about the graphic design as early as possible. As you’re pulling together information and editing your text, making notes of what can be shown visually will make the process easier. Many of your readers will be pressed for time, and if your report looks like hard work they simply won’t read it. If you’re seeing long blocks of text, consider whether you can make some cuts or find a way to make it more visually engaging.
Use design tricks
Using graphics is great as they’re bitesize pieces of information that are easy to digest. Think about:
- Mixing it up with interesting shapes or page layouts
- Turning your statistics into infographics or charts
- Presenting dates as a timeline
- Pulling quotes out from the text
- Using a double page spread to focus people’s attention on a key point
- Combining them with photos of people (ideally your own employees)
Bring your brand guidelines to life
If your company has in-house branding guidelines, this is the time to refer to them. You’ll want to make sure that your report is in the same style as your other company documents, including being consistent with the tone of voice and language that you use. When employees and stakeholders read the report, it should look and sound familiar to them.
Think about where you’ll share your report
It’s also a good idea to think about channels. If your report is being shared online rather than in print, you’ll need to think about how to make it clear to read on a screen, and how it will scale for mobile. A digital report offers another chance to potentially cut down some of your text by including hyperlinks instead, for those readers who want a more in-depth understanding.
Make it memorable
Finally, think about your report as an opportunity to go the extra mile with your creativity. To make it memorable, why not add to the graphic design by using multimedia and turning it into a video or animation? We’ve been exploring different formats such as interactive PDFs or glossy e-magazines. Just remember to think about your communications strategy if you’re creating multiple versions – when it’s time for the big reveal, having the right plan in place will help you reach your target audience and get the views you want.