Brandemix’s resident expert about them is Creative Director Clarissa Zorr, an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience. Her team created a written report that IR Global Rankings named one of the top global annual reviews of 2010. Clarissa is a member of AIGA also, the professional association for design.

Today, we switch the blog over to her to get her thoughts on how to create a convincing and honest annual survey. Not the holiday season, but annual record season. Every year, publicly exchanged companies must present their shareholders with a written report on corporate and business performance. The day varies from condition to convey, but it certainly is around taxes time. Companies start creating the record through the fourth quarter often.

The final cash flow don’t come until the end, and you can’t really design the charts or graphs until they do, making November through April the “crazy season” for people like me. What makes an annual statement successful is transparency. All companies have bad years. How do you keep your investors through the tough times? In the end, people want to get rid of bad stock often. But a financially sound company will have a plan if, say, a drug didn’t get approved or a merger didn’t workout. The shareholders deserve honesty and it’s really the agency’s job to mention that.

Of course, there are ways to be clear while still giving the story a theme or framing information in a certain way. The business wants traders to know that, though it was a tough season, the company still has a long-term strategy for success. The format of an annual report can go in any direction. Some companies talk about their pipeline and look to the future after a bad year.

Some brag about their recent achievements after a good calendar year. The inside of the “book” will vary with respect to the story the business wants to tell. No matter the report’s concept is, we inform it with design. Which includes photography, typography, illustration, and charts. These all must come together to tell that story clearly.

It used to be that all annual reviews were physical books, but in the last 10 years, some state governments have allowed versions online. Interacting with screens rather than paper certainly impacts the design and reader experience as well as the cost. For companies that preach sustainability, not printing hundreds of thousands of books is essential.

As long as the traders get access to mandatory 10-K tax documents, the statement can take any form. I’ve acquired clients whose annual survey was little more when compared to a video; they told their whole tale on the website with minimal text. An even more intriguing idea is the use of social media in an effort to talk to investors and share financial information. That idea is a touch too advanced for a few investors (and even some companies), but it’s definitely a tendency.

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And I am aware why: it’s clear. It is the same type of open dialogue that companies use when talking to consumers or job-seekers on cultural media. The message to investors may be different than the one directed at customers, but it’s still truthful. We partner with top international firms that focus on investor relationships, which manage all the rules. That allows us to concentrate on strategy, design, and execution. Like most tasks, I start an annual survey by listening to the client therefore i can form the message they would like to convey to investors.

Sometimes I read transcripts from the annual shareholders conference, where I look for growing themes in the business president’s address. The design dictates the next steps. Taking the video route, for example, requires shooting, editing, images, and music. Often the plank associates must sit for an annual picture, which may be logistically challenging for such occupied individuals. The sheer amount of writing that must be done can be daunting also. That is why some companies consider agencies like Brandemix. There are actually awards for the best annual reports!

They Ask, Are You Being Transparent?
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