Trends in corporate reporting 2

Trends in corporate reporting 2

TREND 2: Structure 22-04-2014

Structure ‘brings the message across’! 

The annual report season is currently in full swing: one after another, organisations are publishing their annual reports, sustainability reports, transparency reports or integrated reports. However, what we have noticed with a lot of reports is the lack of structure. If you use structure you offer your stakeholders the chance to find what is relevant to them and, if they are interested enough, to read more about the message.


Elements of structure

Elements of structure are the table of contents, the layout of the content (which bit of the report belongs in which chapter, how can duplicate information be avoided) and, of course, the use of visual elements of structure such as symbols, colour schemes, colour blocks, infographics, etc. It may seem obvious, but it isn’t.

A quick scan of C&F Report shows that there is room for improvement in no less than 75% of all recent reports. We find this extraordinary. Often there is merely a numerical reference to chapters and paragraphs with little attention paid to the fact that most of today’s target group is visually oriented.

Furthermore, the content is frequently complex and not accessible enough. A few examples? Overarching strategic elements are not clearly reflected in ensuing chapters, trends are confused with a company’s mission, the key paragraph about forecasts does not come across transparently enough, there is no assessment of strategic action plans from previous years, the corporate strategy and the strategy of operating units differ fundamentally from each other, etc.

Many organisations are stuck in the text stage and forget to make their messages visual and structure them in a way that offers us any insight. A single picture often says more than a thousand words!

How to apply structure

It is our vision that a good structure in corporate reporting ought to be characterised by a combination of a properly laid out and visually appealing table of contents, visual dashboards that encapsulate information, the use of overarching illustrations, parts of which are used later on to help understanding, clear use of colour in the chapters, structural symbols and, of course, a clear and concise text whose layout and contents are as solid as a rock.

Structured corporate reporting is a specialism. We would be delighted to get you started with an illuminating chat over a tasty cup of ‘structure coffee’!

For more information please contact: 

Pieter Koenders

Managing director, C&F Report
T +31 20 691 31 44

Bob van der Lee

Managing director, Total Identity
T +31 20 750 95 58