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How to Design Awesome Annual Report Cover Designs for 2020/2021

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Read Time: 15 min

Your annual report cover design is an essential part of connecting with your audience. This is the start and first impression for your annual report design, so we want to get it right. 

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This beautifully designed annual report design template is available for download on Envato Elements.

In this article, we'll look at good annual report design. We'll explore what it is and how we can work to achieve it. We'll also observe some top annual report designs and design tips, too.

Creating the perfect annual report cover design can seem like an intimidating task, especially if you're a beginner. Knowing what to target and how can help take the mystery out of the process.

How to Make an Annual Report Cover Design

So, let's start at the very beginning. What is an annual report cover design and why is it important? 

An annual report documents the activities within your business for a fiscal year. Be it losses, gains, initiatives, or other noteworthy practices, this is an important document often shared with shareholders, investors, and other important parties vital to your business.

Your annual report cover is like an introduction to an entire year's worth of content. That's what makes it so vital. It's important to make the right first impression and to do so in a way that communicates professionalism.

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Your annual report design cover sets the tone for the rest of your report, like we see in this design.

It's vital that we don't jump into this design task haphazardly. While design (and creativity) can be a lot of fun, there are tried and true methods that we can use, as designers, to confidently create great content. Design isn't a mysterious magical thing—it's a process. 

For example, here are some steps to take when planning your own annual report cover design:

Step 1. Plan Your Annual Report Cover Design Strategy

Strategy is a key part of good design. Very rarely is good design a mistake. It's typically the result of extensive research, planning, and purposeful choices. So, before you dig in and start designing it's time to think about your objectives:

  • Who are you designing for? It's vital to know your target audience. If you don't know who your target audience is, then it's very difficult to design in a way that appeals to them. Very rarely is the designer themselves the exclusive target audience in a professional settling. So keep in mind, just because you personally like an approach doesn't mean it's the best choice for your audience. Consider who your audience is and the best ways to visually reach them.
  • What are you trying to communicate? Sometimes, it's easiest to start with simple keywords. For example, you may want to communicate words like "success" and "trust" with your annual report cover design. Once you've got a feel for what you aim to communicate, you can make choices that resonate with those ideas.
  • What criteria needs to be met? Think about the technical side of things, too. Will you be printing this annual report? Will it be in full color? Is it digital distribution only? These specs can impact the annual report cover design. It's best to clearly know all the terms of your project before you start designing.

Allot time for considering your strategy. With these questions answered, it'll be much easier to make informed design choices.

Step 2. Research Annual Report Cover Images

If you plan to incoporate imagery into your annual report cover, take some time to research options. It might be adventageous to try out more than one image, to see which one works best. Design can often be a lot of trial and error when you're right in the middle of the design process.

Will you use photography? Make sure to use copyright appropriate imagery, licensed for commercial and professional use. You could use your own imagery or source some professional imagery for your project. Again, make sure your choices here are meaningful and strategic.

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This annual report cover uses photography to create added interest.

Will you use graphical elements? You might choose to avoid photography and try something like infographics or illustrative elements. They can be plenty communicative too—sometimes in an even more direct way, too.

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In this annual report cover design, illustration and icons are used to create interest.

You could potentially avoid images all together. You could go with an abstract look and feel, or primarily rely on typography to do the visual communication in your layout. This can prove to be a very clean and elegant approach.

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This annual report design cover relies on color and type, rather than imagery or photos.

Take some time to try out different annual report cover images to find what works best for your design project. Sometimes, seeing it in action can help you make your final decisions.

Step 3. Define Good Annual Report Design

So, what is good annual report design? The tricky thing about this question is: the answer is going to vary, depending on who you ask. How then can we effectively address this design problem? 

Again, the key lies in your target audience.

A good annual report design communicates with the target audience in a meaningful way. This means that your choice of design elements isn't left up to chance.

For example, your branding should be present and consistent to help create a unified presentation. This unified approach can also visually communicate trust.

To communicate excitement try more saturated colors. To communicate stability try something more subdued and less energetic, like strong, grounded colors.

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This annual report design is beautifully crafted—but what audience do you think it best suits?

This means that a great design for one audience might not be a great design for another audience. Keep this perspective in mind. Know your audience to communicate with them.

Step 4. Consider Your Resources

Turning back to technical requirements, what are your design resources? You've got many choices when it comes to your annual report's design.

  • Design your annual report cover yourself. This is a cost effective solution, especially if you've got the technical know how and the time to invest in this project. Keep in mind that design does take time—and time is a resource. So, prepare to set aside ample time for the design process.
  • Use an annual report cover template to create a custom design. This is a great choice if you're looking to get a headstart on your design process. A template can be a great starting point because you can fully customize it as much as you like. You can even completely rework it into a new design.
  • Complete your project with an annual report template. If you're really short on time and resources, using a template can save a lot of time. This is especially handy if you find the perfect template that checks all the boxes for you. It's also a great solution for beginners who may not have the time to customize the content.

Find the Best Annual Report Cover Design on Envato Elements

Professional design assets can be such a valuable addition to any professional's tool kit. But this can be an expensive venture, especially if you find yourself needing stock photos, fonts, graphics, and other content—on top of your annual report template. 

This is what makes Envato Elements such an awesome bargain. You can download as many annual report design templates as you like, and there's no added feel. For one, low price, you get unlimited downloads from a giant library of graphics, stock photos, templates, fonts, and more. 

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Enjoy unlimited downloads on Envato Elements—from a large library of professional designed assets.

This is an especially great deal if you'd like to try out more than one annual report template. Download two, three, four, and try them all out without worrying about the price tag.

Want to try out a different font in your design? That's included too. When you've got unlimited downloads, there's no need to worry about the price tag. You've got a whole library of professional assets at your finger tips to help you get your projects done quickly.

Here's a sample of some of the beautifully designed annual report template designs over on Envato Elements. Consider downloading them today. They're all included.

1. Stylish Annual Report Design Template

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This annual report design template comes in two different sizes. It contains 16 different pages to mix, match, and customize to meet your design needs. Its clean and neutral aesthetic can give your content a sophisticated look.

2. Modern Annual Report Design Template

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Here we've got a design template that contains 20 different pages to work with. Remember, these templates can all be easily editted too. So, if red doesn't work with your branding you can easily change this to any color you prefer.

3. Sleek Annual Report Design Template

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This design has such sleek, stylish layouts, both on the inside and on the outside cover. Easily add your own imagery. Customize the colors and tweak the layouts until you've got the perfect design for your project. 

Discover Top Annual Report Designs on GraphicRiver

If unlimited downloads aren't your style, check out GraphicRiver. It's another impressive collection of professional assets, but it works on a more independent model. Only download and pay for what you need. Choose from the works of thousands of talented, professional artists. There's so much amazing design work to see.

Check out the extensive collection of annual report design templates on GraphicRiver.

So, if you prefer to keep things simple with one download, one fee, give GraphicRiver a look. It's got the same high quality but without any commitment. It's a great choice if you're only looking for one or two assets, rather than a larger, unlimited pool.

How to Design and Customize a Good Annual Report Design Cover

Next, let's do some design work together. We'll work with an existing design to point out some of the parts that make it work well. We'll also make customizations to help illustrate some important design concepts.

We'll be using Adobe InDesign for this tutorial, and here's template we'll work with:

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This Adobe InDesign annual report template is available for download now on Envato Elements.

You're welcome to download this template and work along with this walkthrough, if you'd like to. Otherwise, you can work in your own InDesign document. Many of these concepts are also transferable to other design software, with some variation in technical practice. 

1. Emphasis Is Key to Good Annual Report Design

The word emphasis refers to the focal point in your design. Think of it like the lead singer in a band. The lead signer doesn't compete with the other instruments. Instead, those other instruments complement the lead vocals or the melody. Strong design often works a lot like this.

So in this example what parts stand out to you? The "2020" is very large, so it commands a lot of attention. The phrase "annual report" has a lot of contrast. This means it really stands out against the color white. These two points have more emphasis than the smaller text under "annual report", which is small and has lower contrast.

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2. Move and Adjust Layout Elements 

That's not to say that we couldn't—or shouldn't—move design elements around in our layout. 

In Adobe InDesign, we can move content using the Selection tool. You can find it in the Tools panel, as highlighted below. 

With the Selection tool active, click on part of your annual report design cover. We know the element is active and selected if we see a bounding box appear around it. Then, we can click and drag to reposition this element in our layout design. 

Experiment with proximity in your compositions, but keep emphasis in mind. Where do you want to create your key focal point?

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3. Swap and Add Imagery 

Imagery can play a key role in your annual report cover design. Because of this, swapping out imagery and trying different ones can be an important part of your design process. Give more than one a try to see which one might be more successful. Sometimes, just looking at an image isn't quite enough. It's beneficial to see it in the layout, in action.

To do so in Adobe InDesign, make sure your Selection tool is active. Then, select the image placeholder in your annual report design. If there's a placeholder, or you'd like to make a new one, turn to your Rectangular Frame tool first. Draw a new frame, and then follow this same process.

To go File > Place. Select the image from your computer. Then, InDesign will insert it into the selected frame for you. We'll use this stock photograph from Envato Elements in this example. 

Tip: right click on PC or control click on Mac and then select Fitting to choose different ways this image can fit within the frame.

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4. Consider Your Color Choices

Color is very communicative. Take a moment to think about what you associate with different colors. What do you associate with red, blue, or green?

In a professional setting, these associations matter too. For example, if your business has established branding, you likely have key colors. Use them in your design, and use it in a way that makes sense for your design project. 

In Adobe InDesign, we can easily change the Stroke Color and Fill Color at the base of the Tools panel. 

First, with your Selection tool active, let's select a colored part of our composition. Then, click on the Fill Color. Choose a new color, and click OK. InDesign will then apply the new color for us.

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5. Your Font Choice Is Communicative Too

The type in your composition says literal words, but the font itself can be very communicative too. We want to make sure to use fonts that align well with our overal objectives. For example, in most annual reports, it's a time for professionalism. So, you may want to avoid whimisical or informal fonts, unless this directly ties into your professional brand.

To change the font in Adobe InDesign, let's turn to the Character panel. Open it by going to Window > Type & Tables > Character.

Use the Selection tool to select the type you'd like to change. Then, change these values in the Character panel and InDesign will apply them. 

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Design Tips for Good Annual Report Design

If you're looking for more design advice, check out these quick tips to help you make the right design decisions for your annual report design template:

1. "Good" Depends on Your Target Audience

Remember, the idea of good annual report design is very subjective. Even the best annual report cover design out there isn't necessarily going to resonate with every audience in the same way. The thing that makes the top annual report designs shine is how well they know and appeal to their audience in an effective way.

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How would you customize this annual report design template to best suit your target audience?

2. Less Is Often Much More

Design is a lot of fun, and it can be easy to get wrapped up in the design process. It's really enjoyable to add content to your layout!

But less is often more. You don't necessarily need to "stuff" your layout full of content for it to be good. Instead, try to rely on purposeful choices, rather than unecessary extras like too many filters, too many different colors, or competing design elements.

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This annual report cover design is beautiful, but has plenty of "empty" space. Less is often more.

3. Consistency Is a Strong Strategy

Regardless of your market, consistency is a universally strong idea. This means, if your cover follows certain aesthetics, your interior should match. Visual relationships like this can help establish that your work is one, continuous presentation. 

Think about how it would be if it were the opposite. If the cover were jarringly different from the interior, it would probably feel confusing. Likewise, from page to page, we want this to feel like one, continuous, supporting document—not like a set of independent pages that don't relate.

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This annual report design template has a consistent design theme.

Looking for More Annual Report Cover Ideas and Inspiration ?

If you'd like to check out more annual report cover ideas, check out these inspiring collections today. From top annual report designs to unconventional and unexpected approaches, there's plenty to see. Do some visual research or consider expanding your collection today.

Want to Learn More About Annual Report Design?

Looking to learn more about annual report design? There's so much awesome tutorial content on Envato Tuts+ to check out. It's a great way to dig in and educate yourself on the design process.

Why Not Begin Your Annual Report Cover Design Today?

There's no better time than right now to get started on your annual report design. Whether you're looking to dig in and create a design from scratch or you think you'd like to try working with a template—there are plenty of resources out there to help you get the job done. 

Remember, if you'd benefit from a library of professional assets, consider giving Envato Elements a look. There's everything from annual report design templates to fonts, audio, and even templates for your Wordpress website. Best part is: it's all included with unlimited downloads.

Or if you prefer a single, one time download, check out GraphicRiver. It's got the same high quality but without any extra bells and whistles. Check out the impressive gallery of annual report design templates today.

Good luck with your annual report design project!

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