If you had the choice of (a) reading that dense, fact-filled white paper; or (b) trying to digest all of the data in that 30-page research study; or (c) skimming a visually appealing infographic with all the key points jumping right off the page at you, which would you choose?
As marketing professionals, a large part of your job is to tell your company’s story. The idea is to engage with your audience, ignite reader interest, and hopefully make a meaningful connection. In the old days, you could write a white paper—pull together statistics from a recent study, or craft a solution brief describing a new product or service and expect that your message would find its way to the right readers. But with the explosion of online information; videos, animations, and graphics, the bar has been raised and the marketing communications stakes have never been higher. To make an impact, we all need to “up our game.”
Infographics offer the ideal format for presenting data-driven information, relationships between elements, and the essence of complex ideas. With an infographic, you can:
- Break down a multistep process into bite-size chunks.
- Compare and contrast, showing before and after.
- Depict a timeline—evolution, history, and trends.
- Drive your story forward with compelling visuals (images, graphs, charts, diagrams).
- Show relationships between concepts, ideas, and people.
- Create cheat sheets that give readers a quick look at vital takeaways.
- Effectively articulate industry trends, a clear vision, or a point of view.
Unlike more traditional marketing documents, the skillfully crafted infographic combines key messaging with compelling graphics in a way that grabs the reader’s attention and won’t let go. This kind of user engagement requires a skillful writer who knows how to distill main points into very short statements (typically 4-8 words). Equally important is the graphic designer who uses color, fonts, images, and animation in a way that adds a “wow factor,” raising your storytelling to a whole new level. With the right infographic, content springs to life; boring becomes interesting; core messaging jumps right out at you; and relevant statistics are easy to digest and remember.
It All Starts With a Catchy Title
Because infographics are specifically designed to grab the reader’s attention, there’s no better place to start than with your title. Here are a few particularly catchy ones from recent “best infographics” lists:
15 Terrifying Statistics on Your Cellphone Addiction
Do You Answer Your Cellphone During Sex?
Why the Brain Craves Infographics
Then Comes the Hard Part
Creating an impactful infographic looks deceptively easy, but it can be challenging. Unlike other marketing communications documents, you are working in a very constrained environment that combines brevity, with visual impact, with key data points, with flow. The tools you have to work with are:
- Graphic elements (illustrations, photos, graphs)
- Text content (what can be conveyed in pictures and minimal text)
- Choice of fonts
- Use of color
- Styles (look and feel)
With infographics, there is also a visual hierarchy that guides the eye to specific information in a specific order. This involves considerations like:
- Focal Point
- Golden ratio
- Rule of thirds
- Typeface weight
- White space
The Bottom Line
- Infographics should have a single focus and tell one story.
- Size is important—600 pixels wide by 8000 pixels long is a good maximum size limit; any wider and you’ll risk your infographic not being properly displayed on many mobile devices, any longer, and you’ll lose your audience.
- It important to work with a highly skilled graphic artist who can “work visual magic” on your written content.
Remember that infographics are data-driven, so as long as you have data, you can create a compelling infographic by following the guidelines outlined above.
By Kathy Wilson, ETMG Writer/Editor
Kathy Wilson is an independent writer/editor/marketing communications specialist living in the SF Bay area. She works with a variety of clients, helping them understand their audience and create “the perfect messaging” for their internal and external stakeholders.