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Annual Report Prize

By The Drum, Administrator

November 30, 2005 | 4 min read

Annual reports are hard to do well. Condense a whole year into 30-odd pages, make the bad look good and the good look even better. Throw some giddy graphs, interesting images, arty illustrations and comprehensive charts into the mix, add several weeks of hard graft and a generous helping of design flair and, hey-presto, you have it... the perfect annual report. If only it was that easy.

Now in its seventh year, The Drum’s Scottish Annual Report Prize has become a hotly contested competition and brings together the very best in design and production of an organisation’s most important piece of corporate literature – the Annual Report.

This year 27 reports were entered by Scotland’s design agencies. As in previous years, The Drum headed south to ask some of Northern England’s leading creatives to cast a critical eye over the wide-ranging work submitted.

The panel, this year, was made up by Andrew Lodge, design team head, at Leeds-based Brahm; Martin Carr and Ady Bibby (managing and creative director respectively) at Manchester’s True North; Ben Casey, co-founder and creative director of The Chase, also in Manchester; and an editorial panel from The Drum.

Every report entered was assessed on a number of clearly defined criteria: layout and design, use of pictures/images/tables/charts, use of paper, clarity of text and overall impression.

The marks of the individual judges were then combined and averaged out, and compiled in a league table.

From the results it is perhaps clear this year that the quality of an annual report often comes down to the client. More often than not, it is the sheer weight of information needing to be conveyed that can make or break an annual report, in terms of style and communication. And so to the winners.

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JUDGES COMMENTS

The National Trust for Scotland

Although not necessarily groundbreaking, it’s one of those pieces of work in which every element works perfectly together. The choice of paper, colour, black & white photography, typography and watercolour illustrations combine to evoke the unique character of Scotland.

The smaller format also helped the report break away from the predictable corporate look.

The cover featuring three children reminds us of why the Trust exists as opposed to what would have been a more obvious choice of landscape or castle.

Altogether an excellent piece of work that would look equally at home on a coffee table as it would on a boardroom table.

Ben Casey, The Chase

Mercy Corps 'Be the Change'

The role of the annual report has changed for many organisations over recent years and the Mercy Corps Annual Review for 2004 is a good example. No longer is it just talking to the shareholders about their performance over the last twelve months, they are talking to a wider audience. The Mercy Corps, like many charities, need theirs to work much harder, as a fundraising piece.

The layout and type are unpretentious and totally appropriate for the subject matter, the imagery speaks for itself and is very humbling. Although the 'day in the life of' route has been done before, I haven't seen it done quite so well. A respectful amount of restraint from the designer has made this for me, the best by far.

Andrew Lodge, Brahm

Young Scot

There was very little in most of the reports to differentiate the organisation on whose behalf they were produced. They were styling exercises that could have come from the same, or variations, of the Annual Report factory.

In fairness, the overwhelming majority of Annual Reports fall into the same category, not just this year's batch.

The one that stood out by a mile doesn't look like it was designed by a specialist in Annual Report's and looks all the better for it. It’s a good read, vibrant, bang-on for the organisation's mission, irreverent even and it doesn't come with a hard cover, a two-column grid and Helvetica ranged left typography. Yes, it's a dream client to design for, but fair play to the team for the energy with which they've carried this off, and no doubt done Young Scot's brand the power of good into the bargain. And well done to the client for being savvy enough to buy it.

Martin Carr and Ady Bibby, True North

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