An annual report is a key part of every company’s communication strategy for keeping investors informed of company matters and performance. It signals to stakeholders that last 12 months you just had was a success, with lots of data and statistics to back everything up. There’s usually also an encouraging letter from the CEO or other executives, and a few pictures of employees to spice things up. In general, it’s a package for investors that says, “Our company is doing great; here’s why you should continue to invest money in it.”

It’s also an important part of content marketing. An annual report done well is a storytelling tool that can pull investors in and keep them excited and engaged with your company. Annual reports can feature dynamic design, beautiful visuals, and even video to help tell the story of a brand. Like blog articles or ebooks, they can be an indispensable part of your content marketing strategy and not just an obligatory addendum to the year.

Here are four great examples of recent annual reports from companies that are getting creative with their corporate communications:  

1. Capital Partners for Education

This volunteer organization mentors and supports students in the Washington, D.C. area to make sure they get the experience and skills the need to succeed in college and, eventually, the workforce. As you can see in their annual report, there are plenty of stats, testimonials, and high-resolution photos that reveal the impact they’ve had on low-income students in the D.C. metro area.

The report tells a story, too. It begins with facts about the income gap in the D.C. area and goes on to explain—clearly and visually—the risks and struggles students face and how one-on-one mentorship benefits their academic and personal lives. The annual report is an entire, separate site, too, and not just a PDF, which makes it easier to navigate and peruse at your leisure on desktop or on mobile thanks to responsive site design. A top example of annual report content that can appeal to investors as well as students in need of academic assistance.  

2. L’Oreal

This comprehensive website is more than a simple financial report. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the makeup giant’s goals, ethics, financials, mission statement, and strategy can be found in this responsive site. It even has a sticky menu broken up by sections, categories, and sub-categories, and a digital assistant that can recommend topics for you to pore over in case you don’t know where to start.

There’s tons of info on the cosmetics market and L’Oreal’s place in it, dynamic photos of models, and charts, graphs, and stats about acquisitions, brands, and corporate social responsibility. It doesn’t get much more all-inclusive than this, so if your company is overflowing with information you want to share in a cohesive, organized and complelling way, take a page from L’Oreal’s report for inspiration.

3. Best Friends Animal Society

Another volunteer organization, this one works across the United States to rescue animals, give them the medical help they need, and then put them up for adoption in safe pop-up centers and permanent locations in many major cities. Their annual report also eschews the usual PDF route for a responsive site that works on both desktop and mobile, complete with animations, tons of big site-wide dynamic photos of furry critters and happy pet owners, and specific numbers and stats about their accomplishments for the year.

The story here is clear: Best Friends Animal Society is helping more people find pets (and vice versa), saving animal lives, and even changing state laws (California is now a no-kill state). A clear, vertical site design lays it all out for donors who may be interested in giving a financial gift or adopting a pet.

4. Capcom

This Japanese video game publisher regularly updates its financial section throughout the year, every year. As such, you can go back quite a way to see how Capcom has performed. Currently, you can travel all the way back to 1997, when Bill Clinton was in office and the original Sony PlayStation was taking over living rooms. Capcom published multiple iconic games on that home console (and many others before and since), including Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Resident Evil.

Although broken up into PDF files, each report provides colorful infographics featuring artwork from those game franchises, tons of financial data represented via charts and graphics, and insights, quotes, and interviews from game developers, publishers, and executives. It’s an impressive collection of cultural and financial history you don’t normally see in an industry that largely remains obfuscated when it comes to sales numbers and other financials. If you ever wanted to see how a company can showcase its rich history and tell the story of its future strategy, give it a look.

Annual reports don’t need to be drab, dusty reports that only an accountant can understand. They can be colorful, dynamic, interactive content experiences that connect your brand’s story to the right eyes, whether they’re stakeholders or regular customers.  

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