User-friendly report is a winner
Successful design springs from an understanding of form and function, and that is exactly what helped CLP Holdings win a citation for achievement in design (general category) at the 2007 HKMA Best Annual Reports Awards.
'No matter how good your information, if it is not easy to understand you just get nowhere,' said company secretary April Chan. 'So, when we started preparing, we set the objective of producing a more user-friendly report.'
This year, the financial review contained more tables and charts to fully explain different items and offer a clearer analysis of financial events and overall results. A system of arrows was used to point out, for example, links between the income statement and the balance sheet, offering better guidance.
'This is quite original,' Ms Chan said. 'We have not seen other companies doing it and, so far, have received positive feedback on the design.'
A previous attempt by the company to offer theme-based annual reports failed as it led to repetition and made things too dry, Ms Chan said. The focus is now on explaining the current operating environment and future outlook. This makes it easier to decide which information is likely to be of most interest to stakeholders, and how best to present it.
Ms Chan said there were two rules for the cover design: it had to be clearly related to CLP, and had to tell a story. This year's cover featured a stylised tree. The root system indicated the firm's strong foundations, and the branches the stakeholders and main geographical areas where CLP operates. Smaller figures represented employees. During the year, Ms Chan plays a full part in these decisions. 'At CLP, company secretaries also have to be designers.'