They're part of the staple diet of design work the world over, seen by many as just part of the dry, bread-and-butter grind that pays the bills and paves the way for more exciting, imaginative work. But annual reports don't have to be dull, as these beautiful examples show.
From cutting-edge print techniques to stop-motion animation, artful infographics to bold use of colour and integration of classy free fonts, it's all here on display to inspire your own daily work.
Known for its fun and imaginative designs, this year's Mailchimp annual report was no exception. Presented in a brilliant one page responsive site that provides data through colourful infographics. Featuring brilliant illustrations and easy-to-read facts, it's a brilliant and engaging way to look back at the past 12 months.
One of the biggest travel agencies in Switzerland, Kuoni doesn't do dull when it comes to its annual reports. With so much fun to be had with travel themes, design agency Noord developed this beautifully illustrated book to highlight what happened in the company back in 2014. And it didn't go unnoticed, this particular annual report won the iF design award for Communication last year.
2015 was an epic year for the Wordpress hosting and management platform Flywheel, with one of the cofounders getting the company's logo permanently tattooed onto his forearm. To celebrate this cool act of commitment, Flywheel whipped up a free set of temporary tattoos that sum up what they did over the last twelve months.
Including the company's staple diet of Mountain Dew and hot dogs, the set of six tattoos are yours for free when you head over to Flywheel's colourful year in review page and enter your details. Data visualisation has never been so trendy!
04. Clear Media Ltd
Winner of last year's Red Dot Award, this beautifully laser cut annual report for Chinese advertising giant Clear Media Limited guides readers through a vibrant tour of the company's visions and values.
Designed by Phoenix Communications Limited, the report is themed "Our Space, Your Stage," with different panels depicting a stage for their clients' marketing opportunities. Topped off with an acrylic film on the cover, readers can see how all the layers work together and fuse into one beautiful picture when the report is closed.
As one of the biggest retail groups in Portugal, Sonae places huge importance on its executive reports. With a high bar to meet, the designers at the Ivity Brand Corp focussed on Sonae's corporate graphic mantras – circles.
Deciding that the mechanics of emotion are what retail is all about, Ivity Brand Corp created a dynamic report that cleverly represents everything Sonae stands for with interlocking gears and cogs.
06. Adris Group
With a reputation of focussing on growth (and achieving it) it makes sense that one annual report wouldn't be enough for Adris. Having expanded throughout 2014, as well as purchasing shares in other companies along the way, advertising agency Bruketa&Žinić OM reflected this in their tiered roundup.
Four books make up this annual report, one for Adris and one each for the three successful businesses they've developed (TDR, Maistra and Cromaris). These books are then linked by a Croatia osiguranje insurance plate, which slots through the different volumes, creatively tying together all of the company's assets.
Giving boring data a real world punch, this report for the foodbank network Banques alimentaires Québec presents its yearly roundup as a tin can – the recognised symbol of a food donation.
With a label that unrolls to reveal data printed in powerfully contrasting black and yellow, designer Albertini Romain uses artistic creativity to make people aware of the association's message.
08. Seguros Pelayo
An innovative take on reporting facts, figures and other corporate info from Madrid-based studio Biografica, this stop-motion report for Spanish insurance firm Seguros Pelayo features everything from cutout figures to an impromptu papercraft football match. A great example of how a slick delivery can make even the most straightforward information appear more engaging.
09. Austria Solar
Sometimes the client's core business can spark off an innovative idea so perfect it seems it was always meant to be. This was certainly the case with this report by German agency Jung Von Matt for solar energy client Austria Solar.
Proudly heralded by the team as the first ever annual report powered by the sun, its pages remain blank until you take it outside, where they flood with type and colour.
Another example of stunning report design by German agency Jung von Matt, this time notable for its compelling art direction rather then its innovative print techniques.
Produced for L-Bank, the State Bank of Baden-Wuertemberg, the report visualises data as a series of gallery-style installations - artistically arranging clusters of phones, lamps and other items, and combining the stylish photography with minimal copy.
Set up by a German, a Greek-New Zealander and a Welsh Iranian, Brighten The Corners maintains studios in both London and Stuttgart. Its bold, conceptual annual report for Austrian lighting company Zumtobel comes in two volumes: one containing only the simple hard data; the other visualising a conceptual 1998 motion piece by artist Anish Kapoor, bursting with a rainbow of vibrant hues and printed used 10 neon spot colours.
12. Craft Victoria
Although born and raised in Oslo, Anders Bakken recently completed his BA in communication design at RMIT, Melbourne, and this impressive annual report design for Australian arts organisation Craft Victoria shows off his love of tactile print materials, including textured paper stock and translucent section break dividers for maximum effect.
Contributions: Creative Bloq staff