Visualising business models.

Examples from the reporting season 2020.

How does a company create value for its stakeholders? Many of our customers explain this question by presenting an infographic about their business model in their annual report. Depending on the focus of the company, there are various approaches on how to implement it online.

What is a business model?

Most business models are based on the International Integrated Reporting Council’s framework: the model should depict the company’s capital inputs and explain how these inputs are transformed into outputs. According to the IIRC-framework, there are six capital categories that should be considered: financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural. But that’s just the theory and a reference point for companies. Only some take such a “textbook approach”. Most of the companies adapt the model according to their goals and priorities.

In general, a business model has a take on various aspects, which are interconnected. Not only does it shine a light on resources, but also on the role of stakeholders or the company’s impact on a social or environmental level. Naturally, not every company focuses on the same aspects and therefore, not every business model is structured in the same way: some only look at inputs and outputs, others also include their impact on stakeholders or on their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A few examples

Publishing an annual report online opens new, interactive possibilities to present a company’s business model. Let’s have a look at a few examples:

BASF – how to apply the IIRC-framework

BASF’s business model is almost a textbook example for applying the IIRC-framework. Thanks to its clear structure, you can immediately spot that the interactive graphic includes the categories of the framework. The model does not only focus on the categories input and output, but it also integrates the strategy, values and company segments and explains BASF’s impact on the environment, economy and society. With a click on each field, the user gets to know key figures all around the six capitals, while they can dig even deeper into the report by discovering almost all the topics included in the infographic. In this way, the business model also serves as a portal into the report. Thanks to small info icons, the capitals are defined in more detail. There’s also an option to download the infographic in order to have a look at BASF’s static business model at one glance.

BASF Annual Report 2020

Clariant – Scrollytelling elements

Clariant has been steadily developing its Value Creation Model – as it is called here. This year’s solution is probably the most innovative of this reporting period. Clariant’s business model gives us an insight on the company’s value creation process thanks to a combination of scrollytelling and discovering the content by click. By scrolling, the user travels through Clariant’s holistic value creation process. First of all, the company explains the six types of capital and then goes into more detail: for example, the business model discusses financial key figures and the company’s strategy, but also the stakeholder engagement or the external environment. What’s more, Clariant also explains its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals and makes the connection to its magazine stories. Additionally, the user can discover content by clicking on the plus symbol in the infographic which lead them to the respective section. The user can always gain more information by looking at additional infographics or by clicking on the “explore more” buttons which guide towards other chapters of the integrated report.


Gunnebo – a timeline approach

Gunnebo uses a clean, vertical tab system to depict its value creation process. It defines market drivers as input providers, explains its business strategy in the respective business areas and depicts how stakeholders add to the creation of value. Each section includes more information that can be accessed by clicking on the buttons. Thanks to the progress bar on the left side of the infographic, which resembles a timeline, the user always knows how much content is still left to discover. In contrast to the two other models described above, this one focusses on explaining the business, its goals and the internal and external influencing factors.

Shell – an animated illustration

This example shows how diverse approaches for illustrating a business model can be because it completely differs from the other ones presented before. Shell explains its comprehensive business model by using an animated infographic. It depicts the company’s six business areas, its business activities and how they are interconnected. The user can either watch the animation or click on a certain business area to find out more about Shell’s activities. Numbers are used to explain where a certain activity is depicted in the infographic. Due to its complex business structure, Shell decided to focus more on its activities than on presenting key figures and information on stakeholders or the environment.