Infographics for Brands: 10 Step Guide [TIPS & RESOURCES]

10 Step Guide to Inforgaphics for BrandsOver the past few years I’ve worked closely with several of my [ftse 100/fortune 500] clients to incorporate data visualisation into their brand communication strategies.

The focus has primarily been on infographics.

I must admit, the process has been somewhat challenging and can get a bit daunting.

There are various hurdles that need to be overcome and several hoops jumped.

Treat this post as a guide [encompassing my experiences and learnings] so that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Before you proceed, and if you haven’t already, it’s worth reading my previous post on why use infographics in your content strategy.

Below is my fool proof 10-step guide to creating the perfect infographic for your brand.

Step 1: Define the Purpose Your Infographic

There must be a purpose for creating your infographic.  Don’t do it just because everyone else is.  Think about what you want to achieve from it. What are your objectives?  These can include:

  • More exposure to your business
  • Promoting a new product or service
  • Prospecting new clients

At this stage, it’s worthwhile checking if the infographic has been done before.

Tip: A quick Google search for: [insert topic here] + infographic will tell you if any one else has covered your topic yet.

Step 2: Set Your KPI’s

Once’s you’ve identified the purpose of your infographic, think about your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  These should be based on the objectives you set above.

KPIs can include the following:

  • Increase in the number of unique visitors to the site.
  • Increase in the number of links pointing to your site.
  • Increase in the number of social shares of the content on your site.
  • Improvement in the number of downloads of/interaction with a piece of content  (e.g a whitepaper/video)
  • Increase in the number of sign-ups to your newsletter
Tip: Once you’ve established your KPIs, make sure you benchmark where you are with them now.  

Step 3: Define the Story Behind Your Infographic

This step is by far the most important, and the one most often missed.  Define your story.  What are you trying to say and why should your audience care?

The human brain is hard wired to react to stories, make sure yours is a good one.

If you get this right, the other steps will slot perfectly into place.  Josh Smith wrote a brilliant guide on 10 steps to designing an amazing “storied” infographic, read it here.

Tip: Watch this video by Andrew Stanton for inspiration on how to tell a good story.

Step 4: Get All Stakeholders on Board

There are various stakeholder in your business who’ll be interested in, and can help with promoting and selling in your inforgraphic idea.

These stakeholder can be internal and/or external and may include the following:

  • Marketing Director (you want him on-board).
  • Legal Department (to fend off any legal challenges).
  • PR agency/department (for an official press release to support the launch, and to give it more gravitas).
  • Social Media Agency (they can help with seeding and amplifying the infographic)
  • SEO Agency (they can help with optimising it for search)
  • Other external stakholders (e.g. distributors, suppliers, etc.)

Tip: The earlier you get these folks on board and involved in your infographic the better. 

Step 5: Prospect & Validate Data Sources

Any data visualisation (and an infographic in particular)  is as good as its data.  Think about the sources you will use.  Brands have an advantage over other smaller players in that they have access to data unavailable to the general public.

Do you have access to such data?  This could be data that your firm has collected over the years (trends for instance).

Here’s a pretty comprhensive list of data sources on the web:

  • DataMarket– Find and understand data.
  • The Data Hub – The easy way to get, use and share data.
  • Knoema – Your personal knowledge highway.
  • WorldMap – Explore, visualize and publish geographic information.
  • Get the Data – Ask and answer data questions.
  • Influence Explorer – Provides overviews of political influence data for politicians.
  • US Census Bureau – Measures America (people, places, economy).
  • datacatalogs.org – A comprehensive list of open data catalogs.
  • Freebase – An entity graph of people, places and things from Google.
  • World Bank Data – The world at a glance (key development indicators).
  • Data360 – Telling compelling and data-driven stories.
  • Number Of – You ask, they count.
  • Gallup – Public opinion polls.
  • EveryBlock – Uncovers info on large cities contained in government databases.
  • Daytum – Helps you collect, organize and communicate your everyday data.
  • Google Public Data - Filter and animate data sets from around the world.
  • Gapminder - Displays time series of development statistics for all countries.
  • Munterbund - Graphical visualization of text similarities in essays.

Tip: Don’t overload your infographic with lots of pointless data.  Make sure that the data you choose supports the story you’re trying to tell. 

Step 6: Address Legal & Compliance Concerns

Now that you have your story and the data to tell it, it’s time to check with the legal compliance team in your organisation.  Now, ideally these guys should have been involved from the beginning (see step 2 above).  Regardless, and I can;t stree this enough, get their blessing before you go into production.

Tip: Get sign-off in writing.  You don;t want anyone coming back to you in the future blaming you for non-compliance.

Step 7: Create Wireframe & Copy: Adherence to Brand Image & TOV

Once you’ve received legal approval for your story concept and data it’s time to go into production mode.

The first step is to create your wireframe and create the first draft of your copy.

The above should already be defined by your marketing department.

This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Use a piece of A3 paper, pencil and some crayons.

Lay out your ideas in a way that tells the story you planned.  You don’t have to be an artist to do this,  use stick figures if you have to.

Draw out the various parts of the infographic and -in the margins- leave notes about sources of data.  Doing this step will allow you to start seeing your idea come to life.  It also gives you a starting pint to brainstorm various iterations of the same idea.

Two things to consider here:

  1. Brand Image; does the infographic fit with the image?
  2. Tone of Voice (TOV); does the copy reflect the TOV?

This is where your marketing director (Step 4) fits in. Get her involved at this stage, and get her sign-off!

Tip:  At this stage, it’s worthwhile involving your stakeholders again. Ask them to provide input on the story flow, and offer further ideas to make the infographic better. It’s worth getting their sign-off on the wireframe before going into production. 

Step 8: Production Stage: Monitoring Suppliers & Quality Control

There are many suppliers who can create the infographic for you.  personally I prefer if this is done in-house as it’s as simple as using Adobe Illustrator CS4.  See this useful guide to get started.

You can also outsource production to third party suppliers but you’ll need to closely monitor their work to ensure adherence to quality, images used, fonts (matching brand guidelines), etc.

If you decide to outsource to a third party, it is extremely important to write up a very detailed brief.   Provide your supplier with all brand guidelines documentation and font/colour toolkits and access to an approved image library if applicable.  Also, make sure they sign a non-disclosure agreement. If you don;t have one, you can find an NDA template here.

Tip: When negotiating with supplier, ensure that there are at least 3 revisions within the contract.  Believe me, you’ll need them! 

Step 9: Launching the Infographic: Marketing & Promotion

Now that you have your perfect infographic, you’re ready to promote it.  Ideally, the planning for this process should have happened during the early stages of meetings with your stakeholders.  For example,

  • your social media agency should have already planned for a blogger outreach programme and social seeding.
  • your PR team should have prepared a press release to support the launch.
Read this excellent post by Lee Odden on 11 steps to market your infographic.

Also, submit your final work to these sites that specialise in rating and reviewing infographics:

Tip: Think about the seeding strategy (i.e providing your infographic to a few select authoritative sourcess first gives it more credibility).

Step 10: Measure Success & Provide Insights and Learnings

If you’ve done steps 1 & 2 above properly, then this step should be a doddle.  Measure the impact that your infographic has achieved using the following free resources:

  • Google search:  Google the title of your infographic. Use quotation marks to make the search more specific.
  • Use the SEOMoz Open Site Explorer  tool to measure backlinks to your page and site. The tool allows you to filter by anchor text.  You may have to wait until the tool refreshes its data (every 1 month or so).
  • Set-up Google alerts for the title of your infographic and variations of how your customers/prospects might search for it.
  • If you’ve got the budget, you should probably already be investing in a an enterprise level social monitoring solution.
Tip: Annotate Google Analytics with as many details as possible. It will help you attribute performance of your infographic to certain events (e.g. launch of a press release, etc.).

That’s it!

Simples ;-). Good Luck! If you have any questions, post them in the comments below.

Check out this Comprehensive list of Infographic Resources

Recommended Reading

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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