Infographics – Not Just for Graphic Designers

We all absorb information differently.  Some of us learn by listening, others are more visual in our approach.  In this “bite” society, either the 15 second sound bite or the visual bite of an infographic is more attention getting and leaves a more lasting impression than a text laden message.  Couple that with the onslaught of information sent via emails, texts, RSS feeds, etc. and you can see why marketing messages need to be cogent, relevant and targeted to be memorable.

So what exactly is an infographic?  An infographic visually explains topics that may be too unwieldy to communicate in other forms.  Infographics illustrate topics using charts, graphs, images and brief text to communicate a message or explain a subject.

Do you remember the first time you saw a copy of USAToday?  For me, it was when I was on a business trip and the hotel delivered one to my room.  Those multi-color graphs accompanying very short text articles fascinated me and allowed me to breeze through articles to capture the essence of the message without spending an inordinate amount of time.  I was informed without being overwhelmed.  The same is true for a well-created infographic.

But what can you do if your marketing budget won’t support a professional graphic designer?  Create one yourself, that’s what.

What is your message?

The first step is to understand what you want to communicate.  For example, is it a process in providing a product or service?  Are you trying to illustrate data or trends?  Are you interested in a demographic based on your geography (how many pet owners per capita), age (what is the age distribution of pet owners), a timeline (what is the year over year comparison of pet owners), etc.  Let’s say you want to get on the natural foods for pets bandwagon with your business idea.  An infographic can be created showing how your product (natural, organic dog treats) are created and made available to the marketplace.  Or you can visually show a growing trend in pet ownership (more pets than children) to appeal to the ‘pets as family’ movement.

How do you do it?

Even if you are right brain oriented with a strong artistic bent, you may not have the time, energy or inclination to learn to use some of the stalwart applications out there like Adobe Illustrator.  You could hire a graphic designer, but you may not have the budget for that in your startup.  There are a number (and we have shared them with you in the Cyber QuickTip) of web based applications and other resources available that you can use to create your eye-popping infographics.

The options we list have free and paid versions.  Poke around with some to see which may be easier to use or have templates that are appealing to you.  Typically, the paid versions offer more template options, access to a larger media library or extra storage space – remember, graphics can be huge storage hogs.  Also, be careful – some will add their watermark that can only be removed by an upgrade to a paid version.

What should you include?

You know your business best, so think about what message you want to communicate.  Choose something that makes sense for your brand.

Next, research, research, research.  Compile your data and cross check multiple sources to verify and validate the accuracy of the information. Document those sources – you will likely want to provide an attribution.  If it’s trends over time, make sure the numbers or graphs support your message vs. dispute it.  In other words, if you are producing and selling a high end pet product, but the target market of likely buyers is shrinking, that is probably not a good trend to demonstrate your business’ sustainability.  If you are demonstrating a process, make sure you have all of the relevant steps of the process documented with brief descriptions.

Now that you have the initial elements, go to the tool you selected above and do the following (Note:  this is a general process; each tool may have nuances that may differ slightly, but you get the picture):

  • Choose a template or a blank canvas, whichever best fits your style and information.
  • If using a template, remove the placeholder text and replace it with your own.
  • Add additional information as necessary, including text boxes, images, etc.
  • If the images from the template or available in the media library aren’t quite right, most tools will allow you to upload your own – in either case, you may need to resize and re-orient the images to fit the overall graphic composition and balance.
  • Modify colors and font types/sizes to match your brand’s design elements.
  • Save your infographic to your computer as any commonly used file type.

A successful infographic will generally include these guidelines:

  • An eye-catching, evocative title or headline to draw attention
  • Vertical or portrait orientation to draw the eye through the message (and be more compatible with social media)
  • Simple and focused is best – put in too much and you lose your audience. Use the extra ‘stuff’ for another infographic rather than trying to force it into one and diluting the message
  • Visual appeal is enhanced by limiting font styles – less is more
  • A Call to Action – what should the reader do? Give them a path if they like the information you have provided.
  • Include your logo, company name and/or website URL
  • Share your infographic on your website, social media outlets and include it with your marketing collateral, both online and print

Now that you know how to do it, get out there and get creative.  And if it still feels too daunting, remember Cybertary is here to assist you if you need help developing your message or creating your collateral.  Just give us a call.