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The Infographic Framework: How To Build A Visual Story

By  Amy Chick
August 11, 2016

infographic_framework.pngOur brains are wired to respond to pictures and visual cues – in fact, the average brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text. And marketing trends have reflected this over the years: we’re still developing text-based content, but marketers are ever more concerned with putting out visually stimulating content that engages more deeply with an audience.

You already know that repurposing successful content can be a more effective long-term strategy than constantly churning out new pieces to keep your prospects engaged. So if you focus on repurposing content that’s already performing well, imagine the engagement and brand recognition you can achieve by converting it into an infographic.

Infographics are among the most shared content formats in the digital marketing world – but a poorly executed piece can have an adverse effect on your brand awareness and audience engagement. By following a simple but effective framework, you can repurpose content into infographics that have a positive effect on your ROI.

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Deciding on a visual strategy

Think of an infographic as a visual essay: in order to build an effective argument, you need to develop an introduction, state a strong thesis, offer supporting details, provide evidence for your claim, and wrap the idea up into a main takeaway or call-to-action (CTA). Your visual strategy should support the nature of your argument by taking your audience through a logical path. In general, there are two ways you can lay out an infographic:

  • Statistic-based infographics are organized by grouping individual data points together to build a bigger picture and reinforce a central idea.
  • Concept-based infographics are visual metaphors that create a strong association between an idea and a character, scene, journey, or other element.

Put simply, you can either organize your data around the concept – or organize your concept around the data. By nailing down a cohesive argument for your idea and specifying a visual strategy, you’ll have the strategic direction necessary to create a piece that captures (and holds) the attention of your audience.

Telling the story visually

Despite the adage, not all pictures are worth a thousand words. For a truly engaging infographic though, don’t take your visuals lightly – they’re crucial to the construction of a compelling story around your idea.

As with all storytelling, emotion is the key to effectiveness. An emotional attachment to your idea and your story, facilitated through an effective infographic, translates into an emotional attachment to your brand. Find a way to put a new spin on your idea, and include relevant graphics and illustrations that drive the point home.

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Effective visual storytelling can increase the retention rate of information by more than 500% – so make sure you spend some time building your idea into a compelling narrative and designing relevant visuals.

Farming statistics

Successful infographics are based on facts, not opinions.

When you scour your marketing resource page to repurpose for content syndication and other distribution tactics, look for pieces that already lean on metrics, trends, surveys, or other data sources. Analyze these facts and figures to weave your infographic story – you might discover an opportunity to highlight trends, make comparisons, or predict future outcomes.

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When you source strong data for your content – or develop it yourself through testing, surveys, and other marketing tactics – you can build the skeleton of your infographic and allow the other details to fill in the gaps.

Building a structure

When you’ve taken the time to lay out your strategy and your story (leveraging relevant statistics to back up your argument), the structure of your infographic will almost create itself. Even then, it’s important to put some thought into the visual flow of your content. Which elements work well together, and where does it make sense to break up the content for clarity and scannability?

You probably have a handful of main points, statistics, visual cues, and other content snippets that need to be worked into an infographic design. Wrangle all these elements into an outline to keep the structure clean, organize your ideas, and avoid content overwhelm.

Before you jump in and start creating infographics, think critically about which pieces could lend well to a visual representation of the content. Creating an infographic just for the sake of adding it to your content arsenal or churning out a viral piece doesn’t serve your brand or your audience. Let the content lead the infographic – not the other way around.

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By  Amy Chick

Amy Chick is a brand and content strategist with a geeky love for process and an uncanny aptitude for lame puns. After building a career in sales, marketing, and copywriting, Amy started an independent practice where she develops sustainable brand and messaging frameworks for change-minded businesses focused on improving their industry or community.

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