A company's annual report is so much more than just a report and account of the year that has passed. It contains the story of the whole company in a concentrated and revised format. The opportunities for using all, or parts of the annual report to help build a brand are greater than ever before, even more so in digital channels.
An online annual report has the capability to make content come to life in a whole new way. Interactive graphs and charts give added flexibility and increase transparency; the use of video in storytelling can reach a wider audience than ever before.
"In Comprends' review of this year's annual reports we can see that 68% of international corporations use video in their online report. This is in stark contrast to the 25% of Sweden’s 100 largest companies" says Paula Brandberg Kandimaa, advisor Digital Corporate Reporting.
Internationally there is a growing trend to produce hybrid or summarized versions for online annual reports. Examples of this are BT and Syngenta. Swedish companies continue to favour complete digital reports where all the content from the printed version is mirrored on the web. Swedish companies are also good at including interactive elements in their reports.
"Comprend is working with a number of clients who have digitalised their annual reports" comments Vera Mirchev, Senior Project Manager at Comprend. From companies like Electrolux which makes a digital replica of its printed report to Fortum Värme which this year has chosen a digital first approach with no printed version at all.
The most basic benefits of creating a complete online annual report is that all the content is searchable, adapted to different screen sizes and can easily be distributed and reused.
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The trend continues to put sustainability in focus in the work surrounding annual reporting.
"It's about agreeing on who we are, what we do and what contribution we make to society - not just putting out the numbers" comments Klas Danielsson, CEO of SBAB during Hallvarsson & Halvarsson’s annual reporting seminar in May.
SBAB has published an integrated report for the first time this year, and in their case this means that their sustainability report is completely interwoven with the annual report.
For some companies a separate sustainability report can still be valuable as it gives the option for a more in depth analysis or to hone in on a different target audience than the traditional annual report readers.
The potential to re-use material and distribute it in digital channels becomes clear when targeting the up and coming jobseekers group.
"When we ask jobseekers what they want, we see that CSR strategy, culture, values and diversity are important components. They need the background of the company to be able to answer their questions: do I want to identify with your values, do I want to work there” says Tommie Cau, Head of Talent Solutions at Comprend.
Experience your company through a little window
It is not news that the younger generation are increasingly using mobile devices as their starting point when using the web.
In addition Comprend’s Capital Market Survey shows that as many as 40% of the respondents use their smart phone, at some point, to read annual reports. This is starting to have a real impact on how online reports are designed and engineered with more and more focus on imagery and design.
Think visually, simplify your messages and re-package the information in images, quotes and graphics. If you factor in how a constantly connected and choosy consumer would like to take part of what you have to say, then you are really leading the way.
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Digital annual reports mentioned in the article: