5 Brands that Nailed Their Annual Reports


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Just the thought of reading a company’s annual report is enough to make most eyes go blurry, but it doesn’t have to be so.

If designed well and presented in the right format, annual reports are an exceptional way to present company milestones from the previous year, as well as highlight company culture—without boring readers to death.

The best annual reports even do the seemingly impossible: engage investors and win loyal fans. And as more emphasis is placed on creative presentation, it’s fast becoming the latest format to benefit from good design. Here are 5 brands that nailed their annual reports.

Shopify

Shopify

The interactive annual report from this quickly growing e-commerce business is on point. The deceptively minimalist format manages to pack in a lot of easily digestible data, using interactive elements to highlight growing numbers and other key information. Rather than stick with a single way to display each point, the report uses a combination of readable graphs, looping animations, linked images, and a timeline of events to communicate engaging information. It’s so effective it actually makes you want to go shopping. (Naturally, you can shop right from the report.)

Takeaway: Data should be as much a part of design as any other piece in your annual report.

MailChimp

In everything they do, MailChimp manages to make sending email campaigns look like a load of fun, and their annual report is no different. Here, users can scroll through an impressive by-the-numbers recap of major milestones, starting with the company’s yearly softball team wins (zero, but who’s counting?) and going all the way to the total number of emails they’ve sent (hint: it’s a lot). Adding depth to many of these figures are links to related content, inspiration, blog posts, and other pure entertainment.

Takeaway: Share your passion and personality to win loyal fans.

Kickstarter

The report from this crowdfunding giant is a comprehensive interactive slideshow, with full-page videos showcasing a number of their highly successful projects. (Remember Pebble and Oculus Rift?) Notable for its simplicity, the report uses five pages of data to drive home five concise points. Rather than focus heavily on the data, the report acts as an enthusiasm generator, inspiring viewers to consider the projects they could support or start.

Takeaway: A report can elicit an emotional response, moving people to action.

Austria Solar

Now this report is a bit different than the others. Why? It’s printed on what appears to be blank paper, but when you step outside, you see the real magic. For their 2011 report, Austria Solar literally showed readers the power of the sun, using specially formulated inks that remain invisible until sunlight falls on the page. Bold, minimalist graphics appear in a flash that communicates exactly what the brand is about.

Takeaway: Create something unique to your brand that reinforces your business’ message.

UStream

And the award for Most Engaging Report goes to UStream. This site uses parallax scroll to create an engaging motion-filled masterpiece. The page relies heavily on HTML5 to make virtually every chart, graph, and image slide animate as users navigate the site. It’s a clever piece of work that communicates a willingness to do the unconventional.

Takeaway: Beauty and reporting can go hand in hand.

These reports prove that a little bit of creativity can go a long way in making a droll annual report a delightful experience.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.