“Pretty” annual reports are valued higher

A new study by the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration finds that “prettying up” a company’s annual report can cause investors to place a higher value on a company. Just adding an extra color to the report, for example, can have the same effect on perceptions as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue.

This doesn’t surprise us at all, but it may be something that not all boards and management consider. Annual reports can be terribly drab, and when you see one presented with considered design, it makes a huge difference – not just visually; the perception of the company is far greater because they are presenting themselves well. Annual reports are more than just numbers.

I personally find the phrase “prettying up” a bit strange – annual reports are serious information design when placed in the right hands. Graphs and tables don’t just need colours added to be visually appealing, they need to be easy to understand. There’s not much point in a “pretty” annual report that can’t be deciphered.

This same principle counts for all business publications and documents: make the right impression, be a business others aspire to: use design.