Case Study


National Public Radio, an American non-profit membership media organization that has reported from all corners of the globe since 1970, is redefining what it means to be a network. NPR has 264 Members operating more than 900 public radio stations, 16 domestic bureaus and 17 international bureaus, which all broadcast news coverage and cultural conversations to a record-breaking 37.4 million total weekly listeners.

Bates Creative teamed up with its trusted professional writing partner, Garfinkel + Associates for NPR’s 2016 annual report, “A Network Engaged.”

So, what does it mean to be “A Network Engaged”? Bates Creative worked with NPR to address this theme in its 2016 annual report by revisiting what makes the brand a reputable media organization. Influential, affluent, curious, authentic and conversational are a few descriptors that come to mind. Bates Creative tuned into NPR’s brand with visual storytelling to communicate its progression throughout the year.


  • Content Strategy
  • Annual Report

The process began with Garfinkel + Associates researching, drafting and finalizing the content for the annual report while Bates Creative simultaneously conducted a discovery session with NPR to brainstorm how to creatively elevate the 2016 annual report.

When NPR shared with Bates Creative its pre-determined theme for the annual report, it had the groundwork for what the title meant symbolically, but wasn’t sure how to visually portray it. Because NPR reporters are “out there”—in the field, radio waves, podcasts and on the web—they are continually expanding the conversation with more voices and different points of view. Bates Creative homed in on the idea of a network of shared voices harmonizing under a single brand with a focused mission.

Once the content was finalized by Garfinkel + Associates, Bates Creative designed NPR’s 2016 annual report with a series of vibrant soundwaves. The pages within the annual report pulsate with texturized soundwaves that pick up the bold colors and typography to demonstrate continuity and connectivity.

Each section within the annual report has its own color theme with photographs from stories reported by NPR during the year, adding depth to the monochromatic palettes.

The design of NPR’s 2016 annual report is a departure from its previous annual report designs. The marriage of new graphic elements paired with NPR’s established brand identity captures the core of NPR’s mission: “…To create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures.”