Driving trust and transparency
A 100% digital business since 2013, Auto Trader sits at the very heart of the UK’s vehicle buying and selling process and operates the largest digital automotive marketplace.
Four years on from its transition of producing printed publications, the Company recognised a need to refresh its identity and embarked on a Group-wide rebrand. From the ground up, every element of the brand was reviewed and refined resulting in fresh photography, a new illustration style, new typography, refreshed colour palette and a developed tone of voice.
During the latter stages of the rebrand process, Auto Trader needed to start on the consultancy and design of the 2017 Annual Reporting suite. The Report was to be the very first incarnation of the new brand that stakeholders would see and as such it was vital that it conveyed all elements of the new brand and its personality.
Whilst slightly challenging given the need for all parties to run the rebrand finalisation and report in tandem, we quickly embraced this as a great opportunity to get under the skin of the new brand.
We approached the project initially from a consultative brand perspective, identifying that whilst the Auto Trader is very much a digital-first entity, there were certain aspects of the brand that we felt could be tweaked and improved for print applications. In our second year working together, the team at Auto Trader were very receptive to our thoughts and sought advice from us on a range of subjects such as the intricacies of typography and colour in a print environment as well as corporate photography.
Alongside expressing the new brand, from a best practice reporting perspective the 2017 Annual Report also needed to build upon the elements put in place during the previous reporting year.
Establishing a simple diagram detailing the very complex market ecosystem of the new/used car transactions in our 2016 reporting cycle, we further expanded the Market overview section of the report, breaking down the three core audiences of Consumers, Trade and Manufacturers - explaining the role Auto Trader plays for each and the resulting benefits it provides.
We also further built upon the Group’s business model. Using the established Network Effect Model as a starting point, we undertook a number of deep-dive sessions with Auto Trader’s CFO and other senior management in order to establish how we could provide stakeholders with more detail and context about how the company generates revenue. This can sometimes be a difficult process for Auto Trader to articulate given the complex interplay between technology, data and industry expertise.
However, the resultant model fulfils the IIRC’s requirements to detail inputs and outputs to the businesses’ value-generating activities besides cash and allows users to quickly understand the value Auto Trader generates, how they do it — and ultimately, why they are the most effective platform for consumers, retailers and manufacturers alike.
With positive feedback from not only analysts and shareholders, industry commentators have also elected to use assets such as the Market ecosystem diagram in wider industry discussions. The report has been received very well and in addition it is also an important communication for future talent and current employees who feel the report “…brings to life the leading digital brand they work for”.
Auto Trader’s market-leading position is not simply due to what they do, but also how they do it. A pioneering, insightful and friendly business, Auto Trader leads the way in recognising that there’s nothing more important than trust and transparency in today’s automotive marketplace. A transparent market makes car buying fair, inherently generating trust and building better relationships.
The 2017 print and online annual reports have been key communications to launch the rebrand work and tell their story in a way that is visually engaging, impactful and insightful, leaving the reader in no doubt about the strength and ongoing potential of the Auto Trader investment proposition.