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Brand Activator/ Branding & Communications

What's So Great About Infographics?

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by Michael Ruby
Vice President, Executive Creative Director
Stein IAS (Americas)

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Sometimes they’re cute. Sometimes they’re clever. They had better be informative. They’re information graphics–a.k.a. infographics–and they’ve become one of the marketing tactics du jour.

It seems everywhere you look today, there’s an infographic for something. There are infographics that explain everything from the rapid rise of social media and tablet adoption, to the myriad, complex challenges facing American education, to the difference between a “geek” and a “nerd.” (Trust me, there is a difference.)

Truth be told, infographics aren’t a wildly new or inventive device. Man and marketer have been using pictures and symbols to quickly and clearly present complex information since the caves. (The first infographics–marketing fire, clubs, and shelter–established best practices that endured for millennia.) So what’s different now?

For starters, you could say it’s the breakneck pace at which we live and work. We need to get information fast, and infographics give us the highlights at high speed. You could say mobile has changed how we receive and review information (among other things). And it’s far easier to swipe through an infographic than squint at dense text via a four-and-a-half-inch screen. Or you could just say they’re a more fun, more interactive way to consume increasingly complex content.

Whatever the reason, infographics may have piqued your (or your team’s) interest enough for you to put them to work, bringing your brand’s story and value proposition to life. That’s great! Seriously, it is. Infographics can be an outstanding device for communicating complex value propositions. And, when done in an engaging, even entertaining fashion, they can take on a viral and useful life that extends beyond your own marketing.

A couple of points to keep in mind before you dive in:

  • Info first, graphic second. Good infographics require good content, good data, and a useful purpose. Make sure you outline and write your infographic before you even think about your graphic design style.
  • Tell a simple story. Complex process charts are not good infographics. PowerPoint flowcharts and their ilk don’t make compelling pieces of marketing content. Tell a story in your infographic, and make sure it’s clear and easy to follow.
  • Go vertical, not horizontal. It’s easier for people to scroll down, not across–and it’s better for mobile viewers.
  • Design in “chapters.” Think of your graphic in sections/segments that combine to tell your story. That way, you can use the graphic as a whole, or repurpose pieces of it in presentations, on Web sites, even in ads.

What’s so great about infographics? A whole heck of a lot–if you approach them strategically and with good, relevant content at their foundation. And if you don’t believe me, I’m sure there’s an infographic that’ll back me up.

About Michael Ruby

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS (Americas), New York, BtoB Magazine 2013 Agency of the Year.

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