Design absent from many annual reports

The vast majority of annual company reports do not appear to have a significant design input, suggests a new study by corporate communications consultancy Peter Prowse Associates.

Banks and other financial services companies are still failing to make the most of their annual reports, but sectors such as retailing and pharmaceuticals are leading the way, says managing director Peter Prowse. The study takes in Europe’s top 100 companies and scores them according to the quality of writing, design and the chairman’s statement.

At the top of the pile overall is German chemical group Hoechst. But the design stakes are led by Reuters, Bass, Guinness, Thorn EMI and Tesco.

The most noticeable design trends since the PPA studies began five years ago, says Prowse, are towards simpler reports with fewer “design gimmicks”, a more sombre message style, less use of colour and more use of magazine devices such as extended picture captions.

The study also says the average cost of each report is 2 per copy, with an average design fee of 57 000 per company. In all, the 100 companies spent more than 40m on their reports.

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