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Expecting people to change their entire mental picture of who you are and what you do takes an arresting shift in communication style.
Vector chose their 2017 Annual Report to lead the bold charge on this core repositioning, because it has the stamp of corporate authority to send the strongest possible signal that this is who we are today.
Vector is seen as an electrical lines company, a stable utility that sits between the gentailers and home and business owners, making sure that the lights stay on and fixing them when they don’t. But in recent years, this leopard had radically changed its spots: quietly and surely investing in related businesses to create a new energy future that would help their customer base make the most out of disruptive technologies, enabling better and cheaper access to different forms of energy. And in fact, our last couple of annual reports have been starting to tell that story.
But this year, they were ready to shake off the shackles and tell their new story in a way that was no longer quiet evolution. Of Vector’s nine business units, only two are now government regulated, and the other seven (many quite recent new-tech business acquisitions) enable their customer base (who own 75% of the company in an almost co-op fashion), to have choice and smarter access to energy. And so the brief was clear – signal massive change in what this business actually now is. Reset perceptions. Change minds. Create an international calling card.
Knowing that anything was on the table for discussion, we tore up all formulaic (and previous) approaches to the annual report, and with a blank sheet of paper brainstormed new techniques we could use to shock readers out of their established, conventional views of Vector.
We developed the concept of a report in three distinct sections:
- The disruptive future of energy (future vision)
- We’re already doing it (Vector leading the charge)
- The business review (the more traditional elements of an annual report)
We elected dramatic storytelling in the cover and opening pages to quickly establish a sharp mental shift. With crisp, future-focused language and tech-influenced, almost science-fiction imagery, the opening pages painted a futuristic vision to erect a new perception landscape. A total departure from Vector’s previous way of presenting their business profile.
But this story wasn’t to be about a prophesied future – Vector are already doing all of the futuristic activities today. And so our next task was to provide evidence of the vision in action. A series of real case studies was selected and written to engage readers with these proof points, and to ensure we drew strong attention to this important section of the report we designed it as a book within the bigger book – short trimming it so that it stood apart from the rest of the 134 page document.
Fresh, highly contemporary layout approaches were actively driven through the document to reinforce the leading edge new nature of the company, including unconventional type column patterns, wording orientations and placement, juxtapositions and layering. Even the document size was reconsidered – going larger than the A4 convention to create a more commanding presence.
The market has done a double take, already beginning to refer to Vector as a technology company rather than a lines company. The ground rules have been changed forever.
The document has also been repurposed as a pure corporate profile, extracting the financial and governance detail to enable the document to be a more single-minded statement of corporate storytelling.