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What is the best process for Annual Reports

Our process to create Annual Reports.

Some design agencies may approach an Annual Report design project like any other print job, but they would be unwise to do so as there are some unique considerations that they need to appreciate. An Annual Report is a key publication on any organisation’s marketing calendar. It is one of the few projects that has no second chance, it must be right or there could be considerable legal consequences. This additional pressure has implications for the planning and delivery of this key publication.

At Toast our working processes are well established and can accommodate annual reports easily, taking into consideration their need for a structured design, development and delivery procedure.

Toast’s process is tried and tested

Over the last couple of decades Toast has created and delivered thousands of brochure and publications in almost every format, annual reports included. Each project followed a process that has been refined and perfected, until it became the current process we use today. Once we have received a detailed written creative brief (if you don’t have one we work with you to create one) and received your copy and content, the stages in their simplest terms are:

Stage 1: Research & moodboards

To get started, we’ll send you some moodboards (collections of found designs) that help us to get together thoughts on potential creative direction. The moodboards will include images of competitors annual reports and general brochure styles. We do this to gain an idea of what you like and don’t like and your feedback on the moodboards will help us to get together thoughts on potential creative direction in the next stage.

Stage 2: Initial design concepts

Following your feedback on the moodboards, we then produce the initial look and feel concepts for the annual report – these will generally focus on the cover and a typical double-page spread. The purpose of this stage is to quickly explore lots of potential design directions for the report, including layout, typography, colour and images. Typically this stage involves:

  • 4-6 sketched or loosely comped design concepts
  • Focus on the ‘big idea’ at this stage rather than specific details
  • Exploring different ideas in terms of formats and layouts – presenting you with things you’ve not seen or considered before

Stage 3: Concept development

This stage involves taking your feedback and discussion from the sketched concepts and developing the preferred directions into more finalised designs. There may be a clear direction from stage 2, or a combination of different ideas. This stage serves to:

  • Work-up the preferred creative directions with supplied copy and images
  • Explore single directions or combinations of initial designs
  • See how the creative can be applied across further key pages of the report
  • Presentation of several key page designs for feedback and discussion

Talk to us today about your annual report


Stage 4: Design development

During this stage we layout the remaining pages of the report to the selected creative direction. This results in a first-draft layout of the completed brochure for feedback and development. This stage will include:

  • Creative layout of the remaining report pages with final approved copy and images
  • Presentation of a first-draft layout for feedback and discussion
  • Further development of the design and layout to approval across all pages
  • Final design tweaks and copy amends
  • Creative sign-off

Stage 5: Artwork and supply

Upon sign-off on the creative application, the annual report is then artworked to press-ready format, pre-flighted and artwork is supplied. This stage includes:

  • Imposition of all high-resolution images
  • Artwork pre-flight and pre-press checks
  • Final proofreading and artwork check
  • Supply of a final PDF or hard-copy proof for final proofing
  • Final sign-off for production
  • Artwork supplied if required (PDF or original artwork files)

So what is the first step?

The first step should be the creation of a well-written creative brief, the benefit of doing so is two-fold. Firstly your designer will need one to fully realise what you want to achieve, why and how best to reflect your brand. Secondly, and more importantly, it will allow you to truly investigate and clarify exactly what you are looking to achieve with your annual report project. As mentioned before, if you don’t have one we can work with you to create one you are happy with.

Annual Report Design

Talk to us about your annual report design

Talk to Toast about how we can help you create your next annual report. Get in touch today, we’d love to hear from you, call 01295 26 66 44 or click the link below.