This paper undertakes a historical review of the use of design and designers in the annual reports of Burton PLC, against a backdrop of the firm's commercial history. It highlights a subordinate role for design from 1930 until the 1970s, when it was used increasingly to embellish the annual report. Design assumed a very significant role from 1984, when the firm's annual report was transformed into a corporate communications tool. The paper suggests that Burton was among the first British companies to reach this stage, and that it was some ten years behind the generality of U.S. corporations in this regard. Using Burton as an example, the study concludes by proposing that the turning of the annual report into a public relations document has latent disadvantages and by advocating that design briefs in this area should be differently focused.