Strategic Comms Awards

Best annual report 2020

Agency: Superunion

IHG comprises 16 world famous brands, such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, across more than 100 countries, which are unified under a common purpose, which is to provide True Hospitality for Good. At no time was this more important than during the global pandemic, which led to lockdowns, travel bans, social distancing and drastically impacted the hospitality industry.

The IHG annual report serves two functions: it meets the requirements of the UK regulatory regime but also contains the necessary information for Form 20-F, the primary disclosure document of foreign companies partially listed on an American exchange.

The report kicks off with a review of the year, and details how IHG lived its purpose to care for its stakeholders and to protect the business to ensure it was ready to spring into action in the event of a recovery. Each of its four key stakeholders – its people, hotel owners, communities and customers – are described early on, and have a unique icon that is used throughout the report.

But the report is also honest about the impact that Covid-19 has had on IHG’s business, dealing with the information in a transparent and clear manner. Essential information for shareholders, particularly around the business model and its refreshed strategy, is also provided.

The wealth of information within the report, coupled with the complexity of IHG’s unique franchise model, meant that much use was made of pull outs, strong imagery, clear signage as well as conveying some information both in-depth and in short, easy to understand sections. Where possible, data is also presented graphically.

This led to sections such as Why owners choose to work with IHG, with six clearly stated reasons, such as procurement, with simple easy-to-understand imagery, that have clear links to other pages where its possible to read the reasons in more depth. Similarly, How we generate revenue ‘dumbs down’ the mechanics with simple graphics, but also provides detailed information. Each revenue element is also colour-coded.

The annual report was the first external piece of communication to reflect its new brand and needed to reflect its key brand values: inclusion, engaging and bold. It takes a clear and straightforward approach to design, and works hard to make complex information easy to digest.