How to create a compelling annual report? Learn the Spinach approach

Annual reports can have a powerful impact on the brand. They are an excellent tool for internal communications, informing staff and stakeholders about the business, its finances and its goals. They can also act as a subtle tool for promoting the brand externally, perhaps move markets, start a media frenzy, and inspire confidence across the board. A successful annual report is organised logically and designed engagingly. After all, the rich information contained within the pages needs to be easily understood by all staff, clients and potential customers.

Spinach specialises in creating annual reports. Alongside advertising, branding and design projects, the creative London agency works with international companies to produce bespoke annual reports. This involves professional layout theory, expert design and copywriting, and specialist photography to craft reports that are unique to each brand, bringing the year’s activities to life in print and digital format.

Recent clients have included the National Lottery operators Camelot, Smart Energy GBGlobaltrans and Globalports, DIPex and Bestway Group. We ask Adam Thomas, Spinach partner and creative director, to explain the studio’s approach to producing annual reports.

Annual reports design and production for Russia’s leading freight firms Globaltrans and Globalports

Spinach works extensively with companies to help create their annual reports. What is your initial approach?

The starting point is always ‘why’. We understand that having an annual report is pretty much mandatory for most of our larger clients, yet the activity of producing such a strong brand piece opens-up a great opportunity to promote the organisation through different content and design.

How closely do you work with the client’s internal team when composing these reports?

Working closely with our client is essential. We follow a proven internal process which includes extensive workshops with the team to extract the necessary client information, before starting to form our conceptual opinions.

How important is the design in communicating these reports?

It really depends on the client’s motives. We are, of course, a creative agency, yet we take an intelligent approach to all our project. This means treating the application of graphic design carefully. Great typography is mandatory, and clarity through page structure and template is a given, but the graphic design of these reports is to be approached with care. Clear and relevant infographics, well-chosen photography, a strong copy direction – these elements are essential for our annual reports at Spinach.

Spinach designs the annual report for Camelot

The companies you have worked with come from various industries including finance, property, software and gaming. How much should the annual report design and content reflect these diverse businesses?

It is hugely important, as it is an extension of their brand identity. Often clients come to us with previously produced reports which feel totally isolated from the rest of their corporate brand. We always get to the heart of the brand first – then craft an annual report to expand on the corporate identity.

What positive impact do these annual reports have on the client and their business?

They help management and staff understand their own business better, put their company in perspective, and act as a great reference for investors. In many organisations, the annual report can be their only key piece of marketing, so they need to be handled with care.

Spinach designs the annual report for Bestway Group is UK’s second largest Cash & Carry operator

How important is it for brands to invest in creating professional annual reports, and do you see this as a growing trend?

Yes, companies are increasingly seeing the importance of investing in thoughtfully-designed and specially created ‘on-brand’ communications such as the annual report. What is also very interesting and exciting to us is the emergence of the online annual report, which we have started to build for our customers. The digital version allows for improved navigation, additional video content, dynamic infographics and more interactive experiences. I think we will see more interest in these types of online annual report publications over the coming years.

What do you feel Spinach bring to the table?

Our studio brings creativity and energy that excites and engages the client, supported by professional expertise and a great deal of attention to detail. Ultimately this means our clients can depend on us when it comes to producing their annual reports.

Read more about our top tips for brands hoping to collaborate with the arts, the main rules of brand advertising, and on how to create a powerful brand name

Spinach produces the Smart Meter Central Delivery Body’s first annual report.
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