A nice slice of infographics - thanks to AQR's Breakfast Bites

We’re often under pressure from our clients to produce visually sophisticated, inspiring, outputs. We also internally push ourselves to produce work that is visually impressive, contemporary and will stand out against other agencies. So, attending a Breakfast Bites on the art of infographics was a no brainer.

The course was run by Rachel Cox, Senior Research Manager at Relish and infographic expert. The purpose of the session was to help us learn to think in a more visual way and ultimately discover the essence of a good infographic…I’m told this is information represented in a way that can be quickly and clearly understood without getting bogged down in all the detail! Rachel taught us three key elements to keep in mind when creating an infographic – design, data and story all of which must always be of equal measure.

We were shown some examples of creatively engaging infographics – whilst extremely inspired I did have doubts as to how I could feasible replicate something of this level design. We all know that time is a luxury when it comes to chart writing. After an analysis session we head straight to our default device, so Powerpoint in my case, where we mess around with the shapes in the hope of being inspired to create a slide that’s visually pleasing whilst clearly illustrating the insights.

According to Rachel, it’s unsurprising we struggle to come up with visual narratives that genuinely bring to life the points we are trying to make. Instead, we should be starting our creative journey with pencil to paper – it is the creative evolution through drawing that allows you to craft a powerful infographic. It is at this point you turn to Powerpoint to exemplify the idea …no wonder it’s felt like hard work up until now!

We put the idea to the test and I can tell you first hand it really works! In groups we were given a topic, in my case Wedding suits, along with several charts abstracted from a debrief deck. Using the slides we were tasked to condense the findings into one simple essence – a visual metaphor. Although harder than anticipated – coming up with ideas as a group is a productive method. It got me thinking, in our analysis sessions we should be challenging each other and working together as a team to sum up ideas visually more often. This way we can help train our minds to think in a more visual way.

But do we challenge ourselves enough – are we always crafting the most engaging and relevant work through incorporating a more visual narrative? We are already good at providing clients with fancy one-pager take aways but could we be doing more to condense our findings through the power of infographics. Not only will this push us to decipher what the most important insights are but will also help us tell a clear and coherent story. This way we can step out of the PowerPoint comfort zone and use stand alone infographic pieces to actively engage our clients.