I first wrote about infographics for PR News back in 2011, when the practice of visually representing otherwise complex or dry data through creative graphical means was new.
Five years on, infographics are no longer the buzz term of the moment but their value continues to be proven through the greater engagement they generate with users and the integration of infographics into press releases, too.
Infographics have become a mainstream form of communication and many PR agencies/departments are making the investment and commissioning their own. They showcase your expertise, grab the attention of editors and have a viral potential which is almost limitless. They also communicate your client’s brand; they show your client’s brand personality, they indicate your client’s brand values and they therefore must be done right.
Here are our tips for briefing your infographic designer—whether you’re a PR agency or an internal PR team.
1) Know What You Want
Before you even start thinking about briefing your designer, it’s vital that you understand what your infographic will need to achieve.
In its broadest sense, this means knowing what effect you want the infographic to have for your client. Is it intended to inform or educate on a particular message? Is it part of an overriding marketing strategy or is it a one-off piece of content? Is it being created specifically for a feature or is it speculative work?
The message of the infographic will play a huge part in what you are trying to achieve. You will need to know exactly what your infographic is meant to communicate. Know what your key statistics are and make sure they are properly and succinctly documented to be ready for your designer brief.
When considering messaging, think about the viral potential of your infographic. Is the messaging useful? Is it relevant? Is it worthy of being shared?
Finally, think about the impression you want your infographic to give of your client’s brand; are they trying to come across as an expert, are they looking to create a formal image or are they more fun? How will it fit in with their current branding guidelines? All of this will be key when you come to briefing your designer.
2) Provide a Scenario
You know what you want and why, but does your designer?
A scenario will help your designer better understand how the infographic will fit in with the overall strategy and what its purpose will be.
This could be something goal-based; “Our client is looking to increase their profile in the financial sector by showcasing their knowledge of online banking users.” Alternatively, it could be more instructional: “We have been approached by a leading mobile magazine to create an infographic on the difference between mobile web and mobile apps to accompany a written article.”
By providing a scenario, you give the designer the background to understand how the infographic will be used—which may guide how they decide the implement the work and the style they employ.
3) Outline Any Formal Guidelines
Your client will likely want any design work to fit in with their branding and tone of voice guidelines. But the extent of flexibility on this needs to be clear to the designer.
Because infographics are such a creative medium, a formalized branding structure may be too formal—so think about the way you want your infographic to look and the extent to which you’re willing to "bend the rules." Make it clear to your designer what brand and tone of voice guidelines cannot be compromised on.
You may also have ideas about the look of the infographic in terms of what style it should take, what graphics it should use and even what orientation or size it should be. Equally, you may want to leave this entirely down to the creativity of the design. Whether you have these ideas or not, make your expectations clear from the start.
4) Give as Much Information as Possible
Infographics are typically used to express complex relationships or ideas or to showcase data and statistics. Your designer will need to know exactly what messages you are trying to communicate so they can include them in the design.
Don’t be afraid to give a long list of this information—your designer can then pick and choose from the items they think will work in the design.
Remember, your designer may use your exact wording within the design, so make sure everything is worded the way you want it in your brief, too.
5) Trust the Designer
Trust is really important when it comes to infographic design. It’s up to you to provide as clear a brief as possible but, at the end of the day, an infographic is a really creative medium and no one should know how to execute that creativity better than the designer you have chosen.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the designer you select and that you like their style—take a look at as many examples of their work as possible and discuss your requirements with them before you commit to commissioning their work.
Once you’ve found a designer you can trust, the possibilities of your infographic are endless; meaning you can sit back, relax and await your infographic work of art.
From the Horse’s Mouth…
Designer Sam Goddard of digital marketing agency Impression explains what he’s looking for from an infographic brief:
“Creating infographics is a really fun process and, from a design point of view, it’s about as creative as it gets. I’m more than happy to work with clients who have no idea what look they want from their infographic, as well as those who have really strong ideas already.
“The key thing for me is the brief. As long as the brief provides me with all the information I need, I can get to work and create an infographic within a couple of days. The difficulty comes about when there are discrepancies in a brief or a client has not been clear on what they want or how much creative input they want me to have. I’d much rather receive a really long infographic brief that I can take what I need from than one which is too sparse.”