UNIQUE CONCEPTS (CONTINUED)
2009 was a year when most annual reports maintained or improved the overall quality of their publications. Other key observations include:
- New Book Order: Narrative-LTS-Financials. We love books that flow from the annual report narrative to the Letter to Shareholders (LTS) to the report financials. (The convetional approach is LTS-narrative-financials.) To us, it is much more logical: tell a story, have the CEO or president summarize the story in terms of operational mission, and then follow up with the obligatory fiscal picture. Some of the best books this year employed this format, but it still acounts for less than 2% of all entries.
- Foldout Covers Galore. If you publish an annual report in Europe without a foldout front cover, you're on the wrong side of the trend. While still not very popular in the U.S., this communications device is commonplace in Germany and neighboring countries. Asia stands between the U.S. and Europe in this trend. Content ranges from publishing financial highlights and visual timelines to spotlighting an organization's brands and culture.
- Greater Creativity in Asia. Historically, annual reports generated in Asia have been relatively homogenized and "safe"—lots of white space, reserved use of color, and somewhat dreamlike imagery. This year, we noticed that many Asian books took a sharp turn from convention in order to become a bit more unique. We can only speak from a U.S.-based perspective, but the change in tone is being well received.