Dull, hard to read, unimaginative. These are words that should never, ever be used to describe your annual report. As an extension of your healthcare organization, your annual report absolutely must be irresistible to open—a page-turner that weaves a story, demonstrates impact, elevates your brand and gets people talking.

Increasingly this yearly report must be seen as both a reporting and marketing tool. It must be engaging, informative and most of all, memorable.

The Medium

Annual reports are not just printed pieces anymore. Depending on your audience your annual report can be digital, a mini-site or even a video (or any combination of print, digital and video components). Ask yourself where you can find the majority of your audience. What speaks to and inspires them?

Before parallax scrolling was the rage, we built an interactive, online hospital annual report that scrolled vertically across the screen. Iconic shots from around the community were gathered. A local musician was tapped to provide a musical background for the report. Poetic copy described what it was like to live in the proud community. Clickable videos included stories and leadership messages.

The Message

Yes, you have a story to tell, but remember less is more. You want people to engage with the content in your report. If you only had five minutes to tell your audience what’s in your annual report, what would you want them to know? Make sure that information is front and center. If you can tell a story with a picture or even an artful infographic, do it. Keep your reader captivated and engaged. Also, decide what you want your audience to do once they’ve read your report and ask them to do it in clear measurable language.

We did an emotion filled annual report for a large healthcare system that took its inspiration from a speech a physician gave at a luncheon. While talking about what a privilege and honor it was to work in healthcare, he said, “This is why I’m here.” Instead of focusing on capital improvements, technology and donor stories, the report asked staff from throughout the entire system to tell us why they did the work they did. Their very heartfelt responses were used in quotes throughout the piece. 

The Design

Think of your annual report as a branding piece. It needs to be superbly designed. Allow your voice to come through in the design of your report. Allow strong graphics and illustrations to create impactful messages. Numbers can be boring, but what if they became bold art on the page? Text can be overwhelming without room to breathe. Allow for plenty of space for the eye to rest. Don’t be afraid to flip things on their side to create something different and intriguing. The objective is to communicate simply, not simplistically, by using structure.

Samples of what we mean can be seen in the work we’ve done over the years for the only independent, public, medical foundation in the northern Minnesota region. Each year, we connect with and pay tribute to its donors with powerful themes, graphics and photography.

What is your annual report going to look like this year? Will it reflect your passion, as well as your success? Will it represent your brand and ethos? Will it tell a compelling story? Contact us to talk about creating your next page-turning (or scrolling) annual report.