Better Visual Graphics for Your Annual and ESG Reports

Design Positive
6 min readSep 29, 2022


The first step in preparing your annual and ESG report is to decide what you want to communicate. Once you know the content of the report, you’re ready to start thinking about how to visually represent that message in an engaging and meaningful way.

The graphics you use in your annual and ESG report might dictate whether people glance quickly or find themselves engrossed in the material. As you plan for the best 2022 recap for your company, here are best practices for video, infographics, charts, data and photography.

Annual and ESG Report Graphics

The message of your annual and ESG report is important, but so is the visual representation of that information. Here’s how to keep readers engaged with better visual graphics.


Video is a powerful medium for storytelling and message sharing with 93 percent of marketers saying video helped increase brand awareness. But talking head videos with your leadership team can be boring if you don’t shoot, script, and stage them well. Here are some tips for the best video content.

Shoot from 2–3 Angles

When planning where and how to shoot your videos, ensure the space allows for multiple angles. Having multiple angles will help you splice the content as needed. Shoot these angles from the same side of your subject, just move up, down, to the side or closer

Focus on the Subject

The background of your video should be blurred to allow the viewer to focus on the individual without getting distracted by what books are on the shelf behind them or by other details from the background.


It’s a good idea to write a script for videos from your leadership but you should also allow your subject to deviate from the script to make it sound more natural and avoid making it clear that the subject is reading from a teleprompter or a memorized script. Record multiple takes of the video and use your camera angles to splice together the best versions of each statement. Encourage your subject to at least use the highlights from the script instead of going completely unscripted and encourage frequent pauses for emphasis and natural speech.


If you want to add still images to your video content, use panning to keep it engaging. The Ken Burns effect is a good method to prevent all the movement from feeling jarring or distracting. Panning should be minimal and slow. You can even do slow zooming in.


The primary best practice to keep in mind when considering using infographics is to keep the copy to a minimum. If you feel the content for the infographic is too copy-heavy, consider compartmentalizing that copy somehow to separate it from the data. If you include too much copy in your infographic, it will detract from the visual. You want to use infographics where there is ample data to communicate and you don’t want it to feel daunting for the reader.

Infographics work well as a full page, spread or small vignette on a page. The more data you’re communicating, the larger the infographic will need to be.

While the goal of using an infographic is to make the data more engaging, it also has to be clear. The goal of infographics is to tell a story using data in a clear manner. Don’t lose sight of that goal by getting too cute with it or adding in too much text.

As you consider the best way to represent the data, think about your audience and the language they know. Represent the data in a way that will make sense to them.


You have a multitude of options when it comes to charts. To get you thinking, here’s a list of the various types of charts you can use to outline your data.

· Bar

· Line

· Pie

· Map

· Density map

· Scatter plot

· Gantt

· Bubble

· Treemap

· Mountain or elevation

· Column

· Stacked bar

· Dual-axis

· Mekko

· Waterfall

· Funnel

· Bullet

· Heat

But much like when creating infographics, you have to consider your audience and what is familiar to them. For example, when speaking to investors, you might use charts that look like stock tickers because they know how to read these at a glance and this format will resonate with them.

However, the average consumer might feel more comfortable with a bar or pie chart because they are more familiar with these formats. So when creating charts, think first about your audience and then about the best format for representing the data that will speak to that audience.


Data will be an important aspect of your storytelling in your annual and ESG report. And as described in the chart section, you want to represent that data in the best format that will work for your audience while showing the gravity of that data.

But you also might want to pull out key metrics for your executive message or the summary leading into an infographic to draw further attention to an aspect of your charts. You might use callouts or arrows to show the reader the most important data you want them to understand from a chart.

We recently helped a nonprofit create an annual report where we included a pie chart showing where all their donor contributions went. It was impactful because 99.6 percent of all contributions go toward the cause. Impressively, only 0.4 percent of all donations go to operations and we wanted to make that really clear. The wedges on the pie chart for operations were so small we had to have lines coming off those wedges to show what they represented because we couldn’t fit text within each wedge.

When thinking about your audience and the best way to represent your data, don’t forget accessibility. Ensure that charts and data have strong color contrast so that people of all abilities can view and understand your data. A good practice is to use crisscross hatching in one section of a chart and up and down lines in another to improve the accessibility of chart data. That way, no matter what color the chart is in, anyone can see it.


Quality photos can be super engaging and humanize an annual and ESG report. But you can always make a bad photo better by making it smaller.

A full-page photo of a person can be impactful and really help your audience connect with the information contained within. Larger photography allows your audience to see the setting, connect with the subjects and see into the eyes of the people within the photos.

Just know that your viewers will judge whether they like someone in a photograph within nanoseconds, and 90 percent of the time, these judgments are accurate. So it’s best to test out photos on various people to get their impressions before using them as a focal point in your report.

You can also manipulate imagery and make it more like a graphic. Changing the contrast or using duotones can make imagery fit into your design program better. That way, a stunning image becomes a neat graphic that speaks further to your brand and fits in with your annual and ESG report visuals.

Additionally, photo filtering can add a unique style that builds continuity and branding in your report. If you put a filter or color contrast on photos of upper management, you can add the same ones to customers and various team members. This can even the playing field so to speak and show everyone through the same lens, which can speak volumes.

Ultimately, your goal with all visuals within your annual and ESG report is to engage with your readers and tell your story clearly. Using different types of visuals will help keep readers interested in the report.

At Design Positive, we help brands tell their story through visually engaging annual and ESG report graphics while doing it all in an access-to-all approach.



Design Positive

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency.