Behind the scenes of Sage’s award-winning report

This article originally appeared in Informed Magazine, published by the Investor Relations Society. Stephen Butler explains in a Q&A the approach that Luminous took in advising Sage on its award-winning Annual Report.

Who is Luminous? And what success did you have at this year’s awards?

Luminous is a team of experts in investor engagement, sustainability and brand. At this year’s awards we were delighted to see our clients take home two big prizes, with Sage awarded ‘best annual report’, for a Large Cap, and National Grid awarded ‘best communication of sustainability’ for a Large Cap.

What’s different about your approach to reporting?

We believe best practice sits at the heart of effective reporting, so we put it at the heart of our process, embedding strategic consultancy throughout an entire reporting cycle from concept development through to sign-off. We believe regulation doesn’t need to get in the way of impactful storytelling, and in fact the two can go hand in hand and work together to result in highly effective and transparent investor comms.

Our own primary research also informs our approach. Each year we analyse the annual reports of the largest companies (by market cap) in the FTSE 100 and 250 to identify leading practice and gaps in disclosure. You can check out the latest Reporting Matters research here:

What were the objectives for Sage’s Annual Report this year?

The theme of the report was ‘Adapt. Innovate. Grow.’ Key objectives included:

  • streamlining and clarifying key reporting sections;
  • communicating the refreshed strategic framework;
  • leveraging the refreshed brand;
  • integrating the evolving sustainability and society (ESG) strategy, including a new materiality assessment, and explaining how it underpins the corporate strategy.

“The final report demonstrated an impressive combination of rapid relationship building, effective process management and a vivid representation of Sage’s refreshed brand.”

What approach did Luminous and Sage take to produce an award-winning report?

This was the first year that we worked together, and the first time the refreshed brand was being rolled out globally. We worked closely with the brand team to make sure that the design worked with the new systems and guidelines – but also it was an experiment in how the brand would work in the investor space as this was an area that hadn’t been explored.

Creatively, how did you ensure the report was engaging and accessible?

We used the distinct bright green and black brand colours to create clean and simple layouts that helped to highlight key information and illustrate the reporting narrative throughout the report. Illustration was used to articulate the complex information in an engaging and creative way. Iconography, photography and infographics were developed to build the creative application and to make sure the information was accessible and easily navigated through the report.

The final report therefore demonstrated an impressive combination of rapid relationship building, effective process management and a vivid representation of Sage’s refreshed brand. Being one of the first external-facing documents to use the refreshed branding, it was important that the report landed well.

Internal and external feedback on the design and content of the report has been very positive, marking a step change in the way Sage presents itself and reflecting the confidence of the business as it emerges from its SaaS transition.

How did you consider differing stakeholder needs when developing Sage’s reporting suite?

Central to the Luminous approach is understanding stakeholder needs. We worked with Sage to create a reporting ecosystem covering GRI alignment, a Sustainability and Society Report, a Climate Impact Report and an ESG Databook. This approach allows stakeholders to connect the right content with the right audience.

What did the judges like?

Overall, it was very effective in communicating long-term value creation across the five pillars. There was a good discussion on purpose. The reasoning behind the KPIs was helpful and through the report there was a notable emphasis on the word ‘how’.

A link to the winning report (2022) can be found here

For further details, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Marketing Manager, Matilda Paterson.