More Than Just a Pretty Face

Annual reporting season is just around the corner, and now is the time to consider the quality and look of your reports.

Have you previously considered engaging an external graphic designer an unnecessary expense? According to a study from Miami University School of Business, you may be labouring under a false economy. Researchers there conducted a series of three studies: one with finance students, one with members of the general population, and one with more experienced investors. Respondents in each study indicated that the design of a firm’s annual report would be of little significance in their valuation of a company. But after reviewing the first few pages and/or a sampling of annual reports, participants rated firms with more attractive reports higher than those with less attractive reports.


  • In the student study, in which participants were given the first three pages of two annual reports with the same financial information, the students priced the stock shares of a firm with the more attractive annual report nearly 70 percent higher than shares of a firm with the less attractive report.
  • In the general population study, respondents gave the product of a company with a more attractive annual report an average rating of 5.08 on a seven-point scale versus a rating of 4.79 for the product of a company with a less attractive annual report.
  • In the study involving experienced investors, in which participants were asked to rank companies based on how likely they would be to invest in those firms, the findings suggested that including an additional colour throughout a firm’s annual report would have the same impact on an investor’s firm ranking as a 20 percent improvement in revenue from the previous year.

“The implications of these findings should point firms in the direction of good graphic designers”

Claudia Townsend, Professor of marketing

Here at APM Graphics, we have many years of experience in the production of quality annual reports. Contact us if you think we can help improve the aesthetics of your annual reports.

The research paper can be found online at