"Story drives the form. Form does not drive the story."

A local journalist instilled this mantra in me recently. And it would appear this mantra is being applied to annual reports.

Over the last decade, annual reports have gone from dry as toast financial documents to become a brand's "secret weapon" (vs. bread and butter /rimshot). Take this example from Warby Parker — which provides an interactive, behind the scenes look at "how it all goes down" at the popular online eyewear brand.

Rather than having the production, or typical annual report format, drive its creation, The Calgary Zoo chose Instagram to serve up its year in review and to help reinforce its story.

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 Now before you go out and start snapping pics of your existing annual report and posting them to Instagram, here's why it works for the zoo.

  • Telling a Visual Story: The Zoo already had a very visual story to tell. Instagram helped amplify this fact. They didn't try and reverse engineer the annual report into square photos for Instagram.
  • Creating Snack-Sized & Healthy Content: Each page became a destination for the Zoo…helping them reinforce important points and distribute the annual report more easily online. 
  • Supporting a Broader Plan: This execution is part of a broader plan for the Zoo as it relates not only to it's marketing efforts, but also to it's annual report…and its role in these broader efforts.
  • Reinforcing the Brand: The Zoo does a great job of using visuals to reinforce the experience visitors have at the Zoo as well as the broader platforms the Zoo supports, including protecting penguins for example. The point is, while there are many snack-sized messages, all of the pictures come together to support a common theme – the Calgary Zoo.

It is a great use of Instagram, a great idea for the Calgary Zoo and an important reminder to us that the restrictions of a platform can increase our creativity and not simply limit it.

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