Think HBR

Information visualisation: why infographics work

Andy Meier
Strategic Mind Communications
An infographic is defined as a visual representation of information or data. In practice it can be a static image displayed on print items, websites, social media or animated into fairly complex explainer videos. In today’s media saturated world people don’t have the time or inclination to read reports or long paragraphs of text. Half of our brains dedicated to visual function and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
We are wired for visuals and as Big Data is becoming more critical in business the best way to communicate that data is by turning tables into visuals, statistics into videos, and reports into presentations. Researchers might be experts at the methods, but skilled designers will know how best to communicate the information clearly, concisely and creatively.
I’ve seen infographics produce excellent results in a marketing context through content we’ve created for Newcastle-based charity Compassion Australia. Infographics were excellent in explaining the independent research findings on the effectiveness of Compassion’s global child-sponsorship program in a way that not only made a very lengthy (but positive) report highly engaging, it also achieved excellent sponsor retention.
At Strategic Minds we’re also creating infographic content for Australia’s leading research firm McCrindle who really excel in data and research visualisation. We are in agreement with McCrindle’s belief that symbols are universal while languages are not; that pictures and not statistics connect across the generations; and that “What gets visualised gets understood.
What gets shared gets acted upon.” In terms of communicating research results, no matter how excellent the statistics and findings, if they’re not communicated effectively much of the impact can be lost.
Ten considerations for effective infographics:
● Quality is better than quantity - Invest in a quality designer/ agency and make it awesome.
● Show, don’t tell - Use fewer words and more images and take the audience on a journey.
● Don’t make it too busy - Reduce your information to the essentials only and ensure a visual hierarchy.
● Use symbols that are relatable and metaphors that are understandable - Test if necessary.
● Unless your topic is really serious, have some fun - Make people smile and use clever representations.
● Video can be very effective but is more labour intensive than static images - But the ROI can be worth it!
● With video ensure that your story has a strong narrative - Make it friendly, speak to the audience personally.
● Ensure that infographics are part of a wider strategy - They are great to get backlinks to your website, but still need SEO and an integrated marketing strategy to be most effective.
● Support the infographic with a strong promotion strategy - You want people sharing them across various channels, so maximise PR opportunities, bloggers and influencers.
● Increase brand awareness by including your company logo and website - You’ll be seen as the ‘expert’, establishing credibility with your audience.
When it comes to infographics, a picture really does say a thousand words. Think about how you might build your brand by investing in information visualisation today.
For further information contact Andy Meier at Strategic Minds Communications: email, call 1300 85 15 83 or visit
Andrew Meier Andy Meier
is Director of Strategic Minds Communications, a Newcastle based integrated marketing company with key specialisations in brand identity positioning and online video content.