Who Says an Annual Report Can’t Be a Piece of Art?

While an AR is often seen as a very constrained exercise in creative freedom, there are plenty of ways to turn it into a fun, memorable design project.

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Great annual report design requires a combination of clear financial reporting, interesting infographics, concise content structure, and a good printer. It also has to have strong visual interest. So while annual reports are often seen by designers as a very constrained exercise in creative freedom, there are plenty of ways to turn one into a fun and memorable design project. This, in turn, generates wider distribution and greater brand awareness.

For their 2012 AR, The Progressive Corporation, one of the largest providers of car insurance in the United States, was looking for a creative way to express their brand’s emphasis on unique products and service experiences.

The result? A theme of “performance” featuring striking photography and lots of white space that showcases performance artist Nick Cave’s extraordinary “sound suits” – which, just like a good annual report should – challenge boundaries, provoke thought, and highlight details.

Described as textiles-meet-modern dance, Cave’s colorful, larger-than-life sculptures have been displayed in museums, and many of the sound suits have been worn by other professional dancers as part of performances. The sound suits consist of a wide variety of materials and are designed to make noise as the wearer moves.

Typical materials include twigs, dyed human hair, sisal, plastic buttons, beads, sequins, and feathers. The finished pieces bear some resemblance to African ceremonial costumes and masks, and suits are presented for public viewing through live performance, video, and photographs.

Nesnadny + Schwartz, which has worked with Progressive for many years, designed the book.

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