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Sketches showing people figures connected by floating lines and nodes.

Original sketches for front cover concept.

We worked closely with ANZ’s external communications departments and their newly developed news outlet to understand the key messages released by ANZ in 2014 and identify what was important for the bank to represent as well as for shareholders to appreciate.

The result was a simple phrase: “The Social Bank”. It was then up to us to work out how that phrase would manifest through the review.

After a series of workshops with our team, we presented the concept to ANZ’s Investor Relations department: The theme would be “Together” and the review would tell the story of how ANZ works with customers, partners and technology to create products and services that are present wherever and whenever they are needed.


Mood board showing illustrated example of the cover with three found photos to give a sense of the style of photography.

A detailed illustration as part of the mood-board presentation for the front cover.

While we were planning the printed and online versions of ANZ’s Shareholder Review, other banks were announcing that they were reducing the communication with retail shareholders.

It quickly became clear that this was not just a job to produce a document between a bank and its shareholders but also that we had to create a reason for such a document to exist.

We conducted some small sample research into the thoughts of retail shareholders in the previous year, when building ANZ’s online Shareholder Centre. We opened up those files to see what we could apply to this problem.

We discovered that value retail shareholders place in their investment is not only financial but also intellectual and somewhat emotional. Shareholders want to know that the organisation they support has their interests in mind. They want to know that the company, of which they own part,has a plan for the future.

This gave us one overarching position: ANZ’s Shareholder Review is an opportunity for the bank to communicate its nuanced actions throughout the year and how those actions relate to the overall performance. A shareholder reading this document will have confidence in their investment.


Once we had these two ideas, the theme of “Together” and the position of “building and maintaining confidence”, we began to construct the document.

As with previous editions of the ANZ Shareholder Review, there are some mandatory sections: Letters from the Chairman and CEO; Reports from the various business units; Case studies; Remuneration reports.

The complication comes in bringing an original voice to these sections and embedding the theme and position of the communication.

Cover Image

Photo of the photographer shooting the ANZ Shareholder Review cover image. Photographer is standing on a ladder and a Melbourne laneway is filled with busy people.

Photographing the cover image.

The theme had to be present from the front page. The idea of “Together” and “The Social Bank” had to be understood from the moment a shareholder received the printed version on their desk or opened the web version on their device of choice.

We pitched a cover idea in which a combination of people: bank customers, retailers, ANZ employees and others, were going about their daily business but the bank was helping facilitate whatever that business was.

Our clients were excited with the idea and suggested we use ANZ employees as the cast of the shoot. This worked perfectly with our theme.

The photoshoot took place in Melbourne’s famous Centre Place. It was an early morning but everyone was excited and eager to make something great.

That photoshoot would not only create the introduction for the printed review but also the corridor through which visitors would access information on the responsive web version of the site.

Internal Treatments

The cover’s idea of connected icons representing the bank’s relationship to the world had to continue throughout the document. But there were more opportunities here.

We knew from our research that not all shareholders engage on the same level. To make sure the message was provided to skimmers as well as the in-depth readers, we created the concept of “Infobites”: small stories to explain how different parts of the bank have been producing, assisting, maintaining or improving.

Members of the Board of Directors having makeup applied in anticipation of the photoshoot

Photoshoot for the Board of Directors

There was also the opportunity to provide more photography in the review. We organised another photoshoot with ANZ employees to highlight their cooperation and the collaborative environment available to them at ANZ Head Office in Melbourne. For the Australian and New Zealand case studies we could organise photography to match the styles in the document.

Another photographic change happened with the Management Board and the Board of Directors. In previous years the members of these boards have been photographed separately, with headshots placed alongside names and positions. For a review themed “Together”, though, group photos were the only way to convey the idea that the bank is managed and overseen by teams of people who work closely together.

We combined these concepts with a very open design, using as much negative space as possible. This created a document that was respectful to its audience, giving as much information as possible without feeling unmanageable. It also created a sense of openness, aligning with the spirit of transparency in annual reporting.


This year the Floate team was much better prepared for the creation of one publication to be enjoyed over various media.

Mobile-First Responsive Design

The Shareholder Review as it appears on mobile, tablet and phone.

The responsive design was developed for three different media with very different needs.

Previously Floate approached website design for ANZ from a tablet-first approach. For this project we looked to the device most likely used for reading large amounts of text: mobile phones.

The production of the the mobile-first design gave us a good indication of all the problems we might encounter. Through considering everything from font-sizes to load-times, we were able to produce a site that used graphic elements, parallax scrolling and all the same information that was available in all other formats.

In addition, our content-entry team worked hard to make sure that content maintained the high level of accessibility required by ANZ.

Online Navigation versus Turning Pages

There are a number of differences in how contents are provided between the online and printed versions of the document.

A printed document is very much linear. It begins at the front page and, although the reader can open any page, there is only ever forwards or backwards to process.

Online, we created channels of reporting. From the first interaction with the web version the visitor is given an option of where to begin. Each channel is a single scrollable collection of reports, infobites and graphics to tell an important part of the story with the opportunity to jump to other relevant parts of the document.

In the printed version, the case studies are presented in situ, appearing alongside the business unit they represent.

The online version moves case studies into their own channel to better allow for the different ways people browse or engage with the information presented to them. Reports from business units link to their relevant case studies.

Producing a Printed Version

Proof sheets of the shareholder review are laid out on a table. A hand is turning on of the pages.

At the press check for the printed Shareholder Review

Many publicly listed companies are moving away from a printed version of their shareholder review. Our research suggests this is this may actually be the result of confirmation bias: Companies think that nobody reads shareholder reviews, so they put less effort into shareholder reviews and find that the audience does not engage with them. So they settle on an online-only solution that might be just as unengaging but now they have instant metrics to prove lack of engagement.

We took a lot of care to make sure that shareholders could engage with the information online but, for those who opt to have a printed version, their experience would be every bit as delightful.

The printed shareholder review is often the only reminder that a shareholder owns an actual piece of a company. There was a time when shareholders were provided beautiful share certificates as proof of their ownership. But in an age when even the evidence of ownership is digital, we are prone to abstract real-world value, making it difficult to comprehend.

A printed shareholder review retains that sense of value. A shareholder can hold the finished publication and engage with it directly rather than through a series of devices.

A website can be viewed and forgotten, but a printed review is present and reminds, not only the shareholders, but also staff, management, the executive and the board, that their actions and choices have an effect on the real world.

The Result

The 2014 ANZ Shareholder Review is the best-received shareholder review in the bank’s recent history.

Our client has a document they can proudly present to colleagues and stakeholders.

Staff recognise their direct involvement in creating results for the bank through their direct involvement in creating the document.

Shareholders have a clear message to understand how their investment is being used.

And we’d be lying if we didn’t say we’ve been showing it off to colleagues and peers all around the world.