Why Your Annual Report Should Look Like an Infographic

By October 22, 2020 Annual Reports, Infographics

Illustration of an annual report with infographic elements

It’s pretty hard to believe, but for many organizations, Q4 of 2020 is already upon us. That means it’s time to start reflecting on the past year and planning for the future of our businesses. And what a year it’s been. This kind of reflection, often contained in an annual report, is more important than ever given just how much COVID-19 has changed our world — and the many ways in which it may have changed for good. In order to showcase your business’s growth and changes, your annual report needs to offer clear takeaways from the data and insights you’ve collected. To get these results, more and more companies are modeling their reports on infographics. 

Let’s take a closer look at how infographic design can inspire your next annual report — and how this can make all the difference for the future of your business. 

Why Should Infographic Design Inspire Your Annual Report?

What’s so special about infographic design that your next annual report should be modeled on it? Well, take your pick. Infographics can include all of the following elements: 

  • Data visualizations 
  • Illustrations
  • Icons 
  • Visual storytelling 
  • Photographs 

Out of all of these elements, perhaps the most important for the purposes of an annual report is data visualization. Here’s why. 

Why Include Data Visualization?

Illustration of data visualization with charts and graphs

Data visualization includes everything from graphs and charts to maps and quantagrams. And it’s an essential business analytics tool. 

You probably already use platforms such as Google Analytics and HubSpot to assess your business performance and marketing efforts. Now imagine how much harder the analysis process would be without the charts and graphs furnished by these platforms. If you were just given a mound of raw data, it would be harder to discern any patterns or trends. That means it would be difficult to draw any conclusions about the success of your efforts thus far, and any changes you should make moving forward. 

All the same principles hold true for your annual report. The primary goal of most annual reports is to assess the company’s performance over the past year and, based on that performance, determine the best path forward. How can you do this with piles of raw data? When it comes to annual reports, data visualization is no longer an option — it’s a must, and infographics can serve to inspire the design style and approach to these graphics.  

Why Does Engagement Matter?

All of the features of infographic design are useful for annual report design. Why? Because visual content is proven to increase audience engagement and comprehension. Today’s audiences won’t read more than 20% of a web page with 600+ words. And whether you’re sharing your annual report internally or externally, the same holds true for your audiences and your employees: they’re more likely to engage with and comprehend content that’s presented to them in a visual format. 

You may be wondering why you should care about engagement. After all, if you send around an annual report to internal stakeholders, it’s their job to read it, right? Sure, they may read it (or most of it) because it’s required. But they’ll be much more likely to discover information in it that sparks ideas and imagination if it’s easy to digest — and visual content will improve the overall readability.

Stat on how annual reports like infographics increase comprehension

What’s more, they’ll understand the information on a deeper level. Compared to text-only content, text that’s paired with visuals is proven to boost comprehension by as much as 89%. That’s a big deal, and it doesn’t just translate to a more engaged audience. It also means your employees will be better informed as they work to plan and implement strategies for business growth. 

Illustration, Icons, & More

We’ve talked about the importance of data visualization, and why visual content is more effective than text. But what other visual elements inspired by infographic design are useful to include in your next annual report? 

Illustrations can help transform your annual report into a work of visual storytelling. For instance, you can follow an illustrated character to tell the story of a typical customer along the buying journey. Another example: illustrations and/or photography can bring your products or services to life in ways that will keep your readers engaged, or make it easy to find what they’re looking for. 

Icons, too, can add a sense of organization and quick visual cues to the report. These icons might represent your core products or services, your goals for the year, or anything else that would be useful to you. Then readers will be able to quickly flip through and find, for example, only the information that pertains to a certain product. 

Luckily, all of these elements can be added to (or taken from) your brand’s visual workbench. That way they can be used again and again, stretching the return on your investment.

Formats for Sharing Your Infographic Annual Report

An annual report doesn’t have to be just a print booklet or PDF in the style of a white paper any more. Don’t get us wrong: both of these formats are great for sharing, especially internally. But it’s not your only option — and in fact, you can produce your annual report in more than one format, depending on your audience. 

If you’re sharing your annual report with customers, perhaps via an email or social-media campaign, you can actually produce it in the form of an infographic! Another option is to excerpt some of the most compelling graphs or visuals to make mini-infographics or micronarratives for your social channels. 

An even more engaging format for your report is an interactive infographic or landing page. Check out this example of an annual report for the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Clickable graphs, embedded video, and other interactive elements empower the audience to “choose their own adventure,” pursuing the content that interests them most. 

One of the most powerful ways to share your annual report internally is via a slideshow. And all the rules we’ve already shared about visual content and engagement are just as applicable when it comes to presentation design. Make sure to minimize text and maximize visual interest in order to fully engage your audience. 

You can even deliver key takeaways from your annual report in the form of a motion graphic. This is a great approach if you want to share a compelling narrative about the past year, and about what’s next for your organization.

Design Your Next Annual Report

Looking for inspiration for your next annual report? Check out our annual report design portfolio. And if you’d like more ideas and guidance, explore these resources: 

Reach out to our expert team at Killer Visual Strategies for custom recommendations on your next annual report. In the meantime, here’s wishing you a successful end of 2020! 

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Hispanic literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

More posts by Erin McCoy

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