ega budget companies like Coke, GE and Ford are in a branding world of their own that the vast majority of organizations should not try to emulate. Certainly, many of the Fortune 500 can completely change their annual report designs from year to year because their logos are known by nearly everyone on the planet. But for most annual report creative directors, art directors, writers and designers this is a branding opportunity with many aspects that should remain consistent from year to year. In fact, for a designer with a copy of last year's report, all formatting questions should be considered answered and approved. There should not be a need to explore new design solutions when logo, typographical and grid issues are already resolved.
It's no wonder that some clients blink when a new design firm comes along and suggests changing everything. Sure, there are company philosophies, visualizations and goals that need to be supported in a way that reflects the difference a year makes. However, for most entities, an annual report is a special image and branding opportunity that doesn't come along every day. It should not be wasted by exploring new directions.
As always, the trick is to get a design right the first time. One based on sound principles protected by a corporate mindset that won't allow change for the sake of satisfying personal taste and new opinion. Staying the course allows resources to continually upgrade both visual and written content rather than exploring new solutions when the original direction works just fine. Thus, the audience can enjoy refinement and improvement rather than having to relearn a new format each year.