2016’s Best 10 Infographics + 1 Bonus

At Meltwater we have a saying, “Data is everywhere, we help you frame it.” An infographic is the best tool to display a lot of information in one image. Large amounts of data, statistics, facts, and figures can be distilled into an easily digestible format. Here are a few favourite infographics from 2016 that were effective in framing a story via images and words.

Make it Easy to Read

BlackSwan.png

Call Levels: 9 Black Swan Events

Information on an infographic should be clear and as simple as possible. Don’t cram every possible piece of data into one image, instead pick the most compelling facts and figures. Slick graphics combined with interesting data is always a winning combination and The Black Swan infographic does that particularly well.

Paint with Color

Bowie.png CAdrought.png

Anatomy of Bowie’s Lyrics / Evolution of California’s drought

The use of colour should never be an afterthought when constructing an infographic. Colour is a vital visual tool by itself. For this David Bowie infographic, the designer analysed how many times Bowie used certain words in each of his songs. Then they brilliantly took what might be a boring bubble graph and recreated a well-known mosaic portrait of the late, great musician out of it. In another effective use of colour, this LA Times California Drought infographic uses colours in a heat map to evoke the idea of pain in a visual that implies the state of California is literally bleeding.

Consider Non-Linear Imagery

JonSnow_lineage.png

Jon Snow’s lineage

Most infographics are very tall illustrations that make the user’s eyes scroll down to absorb the data; requiring that eyes take a linear route from top to bottom. This gives the graphic a sense of movement while scrolling, but there are alternate ways to display data. In this HBO produced Jon Snow/ Game of Thrones family tree infographic, the designer uses a circular chart to illustrate how the Lord Commander is related to other characters on the show. With the key reveal being his matrilineal connection to the Starks (as opposed to the previous belief that his connection was via Ned Stark). Different colours and dotted lines denote his relationship to other characters on the show (and as secondary data, their relationship to each other).

Get Animated

animated3.gif

An internet of unsafe things

Animation can elevate infographics to the next level. Used sparingly, animation in the form of gifs can spice up dry topics such as cyber security. This Neustar/Column Five infographic, with the help of some bright colours and vintage fonts is brought to life by carefully chosen animation. Restraint is key, sweeping animations aren’t necessary to create something impactful; here the simplicity of elements that bob up and down or move back and forth breathe life into something that might otherwise be boring.

Interactive

Interactive3.gif

Photography Mapped

Infographics can be composed of interactive tools for an experiential interface that encourages the user in self-discovery of data. This Wired infographic on good camera practices does this beautifully. By allowing users the ability to manipulate virtual camera settings this infographic shows the viewer the difference between composing a good (or bad) photo.

Go Big or Go Home

AppleProducts.png spaceZoom.png

Apple Product History/ The Chart of Cosmic Exploration

Some of the best infographics have an enormous amount of data that’s been distilled down into a large yet readable visual chart. For example, this Wired produced infographic of every Apple product line listed in chronological order. In another feat, the solar system was mapped showing every manned and unmanned space exploration mission ever undertaken.

Tell a Story

starWars.png elonMusk.png

A long time ago… / Elon Musk’s Story

An Infographic can be the perfect vehicle to tell an otherwise involved story. Martin Panchaud mapped out the entire Star Wars story with a rather long continuous image. Ship and character movements were tracked with a football-style playbook illustrations, the image above depicts the beginning of the story. Alternately, Anna Vital told Elon Musk’s biography in a 50 bullet point infographic. It takes the viewer from his parent’s divorce at age 2, to being ousted as CEO of Paypal while on his first honeymoon, to his potential future of settling the first Martian colony.

But remember it’s about the data

MWBlackFriday.png

Black Friday by-the-numbers

When constructing an infographic don’t forget that beyond the flashy graphics and animations the data has to be solid. This infographic uses data generated from the Meltwater platform to display what the most talked about holiday item was on the internet. (And yes, I did the design.)

For more on how to present data in an easy-to-understand, visually appealing way, read our 2016 roundup of the best free data visualisation software.

2016’s Best Data Visualization Tools

It’s that time of year when analysts are busy with year-end reporting and our usual data crunching. While Meltwater provides a platform that’s adept with PR and marketing campaign reporting, having an arsenal of tools to translate other marketing activities (such as, financial reporting, web traffic, conversions, etc) into visually appealing, easy-to-read metrics to share with our bosses will save time and make you look like a numbers pro.

The end-goal of this process is not only the interpretation of the data we’ve gathered into a visually friendly format but the ability to use this chart/graph as a reference to refer to again and again as we go forward in making business decisions. Thank goodness there are tools to manage this deluge of data, tools that will work for everyone, regardless of skill level or experience.

With that in mind, here are 5 of the best free tools for data analysis and visualization in 2016:

Zz0wNDg2MTZhNjY5NDhlMjRkOGY3OWFhZjc5MjhkZjBhYQ==.png

1. Orange

Orange is a data mining tool that offers interactive and user-friendly data visualizations. The user interface allows for greater focus on data exploration and understanding rather than coding, which is helpful if you want to utilize this tool collaboratively across a range of skill sets.

Free Download

talend_logo_600x160_transparent.jpg

2. Talend

Talend offers a data preparation tool that cleans and helps extract useful data from Excel and CSV files in a matter of minutes. Preparing data for analysis is often a time-intensive process that can take longer than the actual analysis itself; however, tools like Talend can help cut the prep time in half, maybe even more.

Free Download

Infogram_Logo.png

3. Infogram

Infogram is a data visualization tool that allows you to quickly create visually impactful and interactive charts, reports, and infographics based on the data of your choosing. This tool is great for teams as it includes easy sharing and offers real-time collaboration (charts automatically updated through Google Sheets integration).

Get Started Here

datapine_logo.png

4. Datapine

Datapine is a business intelligence software that provides users with a range of data analysis tools, including, but not limited to, KPI reporting, shared dashboards, and live data visualizations. Features an easy-to-use drag and drop interface that eliminates the need for SQL or any additional database knowledge.

Free Trial

vizydrop.png

5. Vizydrop

Vizydrop is a data visualization tool where you can drop your data directly into the platform as-is through connected applications such as Dropbox, GitHub, Google Sheets, or even custom APIs. Using a variety of statistical methods and algorithms, Vizydrop offers what they call “clever suggestions,” which detect relationships between data and recommend ready-to-use charts.

Get Started Here

Bonus: Impact

Meltwater Impact was released in freemium beta this year. It reveals insights into which key phrases in your press releases or blog posts are resonating. By typing in or uploading a press release/blog post into the system, you’ll  be able to track media coverage in over 200 countries. The freemium version includes data about the geo-location shares of your content, as well as if it’s been shared on Twitter or in the news. See an example of an Impact report.

Get Started Here

B2B Branding: The What, Why, and How

What is B2B branding? Is it just your logos and graphics? Or is it something more?

Branding is “the process of creating a unique name and image in a customer’s mind.”

B2B buyers are busy. They have to make a lot of decisions throughout the day. And, most of all, they’re human. They try to make decisions based on hard evidence. Sometimes, though, the choices are overwhelming, and they’re just seeking an easier way to make or justify their decisions. B2B branding makes those decisions easier by communicating what makes your brand different or unique.

What is B2B Branding?

B2B branding communicates important attributes like:

  • Customer knowledge: One of the most important things your B2B branding can communicate is that your brand understands and responds to customer needs. This is especially important in B2B, where the vendor/customer relationship is often more of a partnership than a simple transactional relationship. Managing customer relationships is critical due to the high monetary value of the relationship over time.
  • Passion and purpose: It’s not just what you do, but why you do what you do. Marketing expert Simon Sinek has written that too many companies communicate what they do and how they do it, but the most successful brands always communicate their “why.”
  • Culture and personality: These are brand attributes commonly associated with the B2C space, but they matter in B2B as well. Your company’s culture guides customer relationships. It determines how employees interact with customers and the “personality” your brand conveys. If your culture emphasises customer service and sharing their values, that promotes a commitment to solving their problems and continuously improving your products or services. Customer perceptions create a more personal connection between your brand and its customers. This can pay off in real dollars: research shows that companies with a strong culture and engaged workforce outperform their competition by 147%.
  • Consistency and quality: Especially in B2B branding where large purchase decisions are on the line, brand consistency in the product itself and in the experience of buying and using it is important to customers. When your brand is consistent, how you communicate about that brand echoes across all your channels, materials, and conversations as well as in the customer’s experience of using the product. In the age of social media this means every employee can impact your brand—and so does every customer.
  • Uniqueness or differentiation: What makes you different than similar brands? What makes you better? Why should a customer choose your product or service versus those of a competitor? Differentiation is the factor that determines the value assigned to your brand. If your product is properly differentiated, you can charge more.

In short, B2B branding answers the simple question, “Why should your customers choose you?”

TwitterCardConstruction.png

Why B2B Branding Matters

As indicated in the previous section, B2B branding is about so much more than logos. It’s really about developing the space that your brand takes up in the mind of the customer and having a “consistent value system” in how you interact with that customer.

In B2B industries, buyers may give a variety of reasons why they choose one brand over another. Sometimes it’s tangible reasons like price, reliability of service or delivery, or product quality. But sometimes, it’s intangibles like, “they know us” or simply, “we trust that brand.” Creating those intangible perceptions is the goal of B2B branding.

A successful branding strategy results in “brand equity,” the value of a brand over and above the value of similar products. That’s why a solid roadmap to develop and define your brand is so important in the B2B space.

How to Define Your Brand

When companies are first starting out, they’re unknown: they’re products, not brands. Any branding efforts tend to be ad-hoc and inconsistent. Over time, these efforts tend to be systematised and brought under the control of marketing departments, yet they may still only partially accomplish what could be achieved with a smart B2B branding strategy.

As companies scale into the mid-market and enterprise space, they must find ways to convey their brand attributes and values to ever larger audiences. Employees, including everyone from the newest customer service rep to the CEO, must become brand advocates. Customer knowledge and relationships must also be maintained even as the customer base grows.

Here are three steps you can take to solidify your brand as you grow.

  1. Cultivate culture and purpose. A company culture that is focused on hiring the right people and empowering them to solve customer problems will result in closer connections with customers and a more positive perception of your brand. Making sure employees understand not just the products or services you provide but the “why” or the reason behind them and the importance of their role, also enhances brand perception.
  2. Tell engaging stories. Storytelling is a big buzzword in the B2C marketing world for a good reason: storytelling develops empathy or connection with the brand.his can sway customers to make decisions in favour of your brand. But lest you think that this only applies in the B2C space, remember that B2B buyers are also seeking information that can answer their questions and help them justify their decisions. Storytelling strategies such as the development of media hubs or customer communities, an integrated social media strategy, and even one-on-one conversation are a few ways B2B brands can tell engaging stories.
  3. Focus on consistency. Consistency isn’t just about making sure all your marketing materials have the same logo but making sure that everyone in your company knows and understands your brand’s values. This is a function of culture as well as a marketing task. Systems and processes should be developed to help employees understand how to communicate consistently with customers and to ensure that customer experiences, correctly convey the attributes you want.

B2B branding can take your company from an unknown brand to one that becomes recognisable, is positioned appropriately, conveys its personality and views, and is reflected in company policies and operations. B2B branding turns undifferentiated products into brands that are known and asked for by name—and for which customers will pay a premium. That’s the ultimate value of B2B branding.

This article originally appeared in Handshake Blog, was written by Nicole Groysman from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.