Designers tell us that a picture is worth a thousand words, which means you're probably getting a lot more mileage out of your overall design than you may realise.
But before you think of doing it yourself and turning your integrated report into a coffee table book of beautiful images, there's a whole lot more to consider.
We readers don't cope too well with large amounts of text in general - now add to that dense copy squished onto a page, justified paragraphs and subject matter that will never rival the latest bestseller and you've got some serious work to do. (Why will our integrated report content struggle to rival a bestseller? Because bestsellers are stories and the human race, of course, has flourished through storytelling. Our reports are, at best, coherent assemblages of information.)
Design conveys meaning. We just process design in a different way to how we process text and the interesting thing about design is that it's not necessarily universal. Think of the use of colour: while we may associate yellow with sunshine and cheer, yellow signifies jealousy and betrayal in France but bravery and wealth in Japan.
So pictures tell a story, words can be overwhelming and design can convey even more than you might intend. But remember, your integrated report is not an isolated document - it is an annual representation of your organisation and its brand as a whole - from who you are, to what you have achieved, to where you're going. And all of this can be conveyed via the words you use, the way you organise and present those words, and the imagery that supports it all. Wrapped up neatly in a package that is typically and fundamentally you
It's important to marry content (text) with design (brand, images, layout, colour, shape, font, etc.) in a way that demonstrates who you are and backs up what you say. If you're a sharp and funky tech start-up a navy-blue theme, arial font and sedate imagery probably won't match your personality. If you're a traditional and dependable financial organisation a report with a colourful superhero theme may confuse your readers.
Our final word of advice is that, while a successful integrated report usually involves mixing together opinions from accountants to writers, auditors, strategists, MDs and marketing folk, the designers play a huge roll in getting your final message across. Make your life easier, choose a great one and leave it to them. Blue Apple
specialises in the training, writing and design of integrated and annual reports.