While many companies produce annual reports targeted at investors, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) is owned and operated by Ontario’s dairy producers. With every page scrutinized by the most precise and invested audience possible, we have worked with their corporate communications, leadership, and finance teams, since 2014, to take a look at the annual publication and develop a content and design strategy to satisfy multiple reporting and community objectives.
Historically, the annual report was produced in English, with some sections translated for French dairy producers. Previous design efforts had resulted in a decent report, in that it contained all of the salient elements; however, it was missing a clear opportunity to collect and review the year’s initiatives and achievements into a chronological narrative and connect with the organizations key audiences: dairy producers, dairy processors and industry partners, government, and consumers.
We assumed creative direction and design of their annual reporting in 2014, and started with a focused review of the content design. We knew that most companies use their annual reports as much for promotion as for compliance—sometimes well outside traditional investor relations activities. DFO was no exception. The book was widely used in media kits, at events, and on site at regional dairy committee offices for public and industry engagement.
Previous book designs had featured page after page of stock photography showing a summary collection of the ‘general public’ drinking glasses of milk, but nothing about the Ontario dairy industry, its dairy producers or the stars of the show, the dairy cows. The visual brief was simple, but we needed real assets to produce a book of the quality and style we had conceived. So, we took to the field with our environmental photography partner Jonathan Bielaski, to curate a deep library of environmental portraiture and agricultural and product photography, visiting six Ontario dairy farms.
We developed an expansive content strategy that reported critical operational details adjacent the product, promotional, and political context for the year to deliver a detailed chronology of the year’s wins, initiatives, and progress against the long-term strategic plan.
The book was designed as an English-French flop, with full content translation in both languages for a diversified provincial readership.
The annual report has become a central engagement and promotional tool for the organization, and a point of pride for Ontario’s dairy producers. I think these comments sums it up:
—Graham Lloyd, Director of Communications & Chief Counsel Dairy Farmers of Ontario
“Beyond ecstatic! Can’t tell you guys enough how I happy I am that you nailed exactly what we wanted—modern but still down-to-earth!”
—Barb Richard, Coordinator Dairy Farmers of Ontario