December 27

Stop worrying. Here’s a more accurate design estimate for annual reports

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If you want to design an annual report, we know just how difficult it is to try and estimate three things.

  1. How much it costs
  2. How long it will take
  3. How good it will be

Let’s start with the costs.

The TLDR (Too long didn’t read)

Type of work Scope of work Cost breakdown (in Singapore Dollars) Total cost
Annual report for a listed company About 100 pages, with about 80 pages mostly comprising financial reports and information
Design of around 20 pages comprising the company’s highlights
20 designed pages at $250 per page
Layout for the rest of the pages at $70 per page
Conceptualisation at $2000
$12,600
Annual report for a charity About 40 to 50 pages with about 35 pages of design covering the highlights of the charity 35 pages at $200/page
Layout for the rest of the pages at $80 per page
Conceptualisation at $1500
$9,700
School yearbook, comprising the students pictures and a brief writeup of the different highlights of the school’s year Often around 120 pages, with 60 pages devoted to the students’ pictures 60 pages of design at $200/page
Layout of the pictures at $60 per page
Conceptualisation at $1500
$17,100

What are you paying for?

You might look at the figures above and balk at how much it looks. Especially if you’re a charity with a limited budget.

Why bother with an annual report?

You might think that with a digital world like today, does it really matter that you have an annual report?

Yes, it does.

It gives stakeholders something to remember your time together

With one of our first clients, MINDS, a school serving the needs of those with special needs, they allocated a budget to do the annual yearbook because they wanted something that both parents and students could remember the year with.

You would probably have the same experience. Where 12 years on, you suddenly stumble onto an old yearbook, flip through the yearbook, and think,

Gosh, I’ve grown so much!

An annual report serves to celebrate the achievements of the year, and give stakeholders something to remember you with.

It presents a reason to continue investing

With listed companies, there’s even more of a reason to make a fancy annual report, especially when you consider that the stock market may not be that kind to you if you present a poor set of numbers. If investors start shunning your stock like a smelly sock like they found in their living room, you would find your cost of capital being increasingly expensive.

That’s why you see that amongst the annual reports, listed companies continue to dedicate many resources towards ensuring that the best face of their company is presented.

Look at the example of Frasers Logistics and Commercial Trust, which presented its annual report a few weeks ago.

Part of the narrative of ‘Evolving Stronger’ also hid the uncomfortable fact that their net property income, as you can see below, had fallen 9%.

But if you can see from the narrative throughout the annual report, they reiterated their ability to create value.

It’s a nice way to gloss over the fact that their revenue had dropped.

The annual report is an exercise in marketing and selling more of what you do

That’s why the annual report is one of the most crucial elements in garnering support for your brand.

Google’s annual report is one example of a clean, elegant and simple design to use.
Google’s annual report is one example of a clean, elegant and simple design to use.

One of the most classy, understated annual reports we love looking at are those of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. If you look at their annual report, as presented above, you would see over and over again a simplicity that belies their ability to simplify the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This is what an annual report can do for you, if you do it well.

The elements of making an annual report

How to design an annual report
How to design an annual report

There are 4 crucial elements of each annual report:

  1. Conceptualisation
  2. Writing
  3. Graphic design
  4. Collation

Looking at the MINDS annual report above, you would see that there was a clear concept of ‘Coming Together, Emerging Stronger’, throughout the entire report.

Conceptualising comes first

This is where the writing expertise comes in.

When you want to write an annual report, you might not be clear what the theme is.

From our experience, many clients often focus on how nice the designs are, without focusing on how good the writer is.

This is doing things the inverted way.

The design is the skin.

The writing is the flesh.

One cannot coexist without the other, but the writing is the fundamental portion of what stitches everything together.

With a strong and coherent concept, it becomes far easier to put together the report, compared to coming up with a design first, without a coherent theme.

Then the writer structures the ideas

Often, what design agencies miss is a strong writer that can interview you and help you to understand what the main theme you’re trying to bring through is.

As Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar, the animation studio, once said this of writers,

Not only is writing time-consuming but writers also bring structural thinking to the development process—input that most directors really need.

They bring structure to the mass of ideas you have.

When we work with clients on their annual reports, we find that useful questions include:

  1. What do you want this annual report to do?
  2. Who are the main readers?
  3. If this annual report did everything you wanted it to do, what would look different? What would feel different? What would happen for your company?

These questions help us determine what eventually becomes the main logline of the annual report – or the main theme that the annual report will encompass.

Only then does design come in

It is then, and only then that the design comes in.

Often the design comprises of 3 main elements.

Worry more about the reliability of the agency

But ultimately what you want in an annual report design agency is its reliability. Some things you need to take note of are:

  1. How fast does it respond to your messages (often a 12-hour window is reasonable)
  2. Does it regularly communicate to you, especially when things go wrong?
    1. For example, when we first started with MINDS, our first ever annual report client, we messed up a few times. One instance was when we didn’t manage to include the picture of the administrative manager due to the time constraints of the project. But what salvaged the relationship was that we managed to communicate this to them.

Reliability for us means,

Do what you say,

Say what you do.

There aren’t many agencies who can do this reliably and push projects from idea to completion.

That’s why you can trust us with your annual report. Contact us today.

 


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