Over the past few years, infographics have become one of the hottest marketing tools for any business. Whether your company is B2B or B2C, you can use infographics to explain things to your customers, illustrate important concepts in your industry and promote your business.
Infographics began gaining popularity on the web around 2010, and since then, they’ve been improved and refined. Most infographics now offer a high level of graphic design that wasn’t evident in the early days of the craze. But while infographics have only gained online popularity in the past few years, their roots reach long before that — all the way back, some argue, to ancient Egyptian times.
What’s the history of infographics and why should your business use them? Read on to find out the answer, along with lots of other helpful information, such as:
- Who the pioneers of infographic design are and why you may know them from their other work
- How the modern infographic came about
- Why infographics became a staple of modern digital marketing
- The lesser-known benefits of infographics and using them to promote your business
We’ll also explore how widely used infographics are today. Let’s begin with a look at what exactly an infographic is.
What Is an Infographic?
Any form of visual information gathering can technically be classified as an infographic. Currently, it has been proven that the visual is usually much more effective and attractive than the text. For that reason, the use of infographics is on the rise.
An infographic is a visual representation of data or information. Typically, a graphic designer creates an infographic to make a set of data or information easier for a viewer to digest. In other words, infographics facilitate the understanding of that information and transmit it in a more efficient and fast way.
In its most basic format, an infographic could illustrate, say, how many people like to eat apples. If that number is 200 million, then 10 million apple lovers could be represented by a single apple, and 20 apples would be depicted on the infographic. That could then be compared to the 150 million orange lovers, represented similarly by 15 oranges. Essentially, an infographic gives people a quick and handy way to make data comparisons between apples and oranges.
Infographics are a form of content marketing, designed to turn what could be dry material into something more engaging. Colors, shapes and overall presentation make a big difference in whether people will be drawn in by your infographic. This form of marketing can also help improve your website’s search engine optimization. Your search engine rankings will improve because people are drawn to your excellent content.
Statistics That Prove the Effectiveness of Infographics
You don’t have to take our word for how effective infographics are in promoting a company, engaging potential customers, and improving SEO. Here are four statistics that prove our point:
- Nearly three-quarters of all social media marketers use a visual element like infographics in their marketing.
- Thirty-seven percent say visuals are the most important element of their social marketing campaigns.
- Seventy-one percent say they will increase their use of visuals in the coming year.
- Sixty-five percent of marketers want to learn more about creating visuals such as infographics.
Now you understand how effective infographics can be. Let’s look at how they came about with a deep dive into the formation of this sort of visual presentation.
The Ancient History of Infographics
There are those who argue the history of infographics stretches back thousands of years, to the cave paintings made during the Paleolithic era. The earliest were found in Indonesia, while later ones emerged in Europe. But since the true purpose of infographics is to convey information in artistic form, not just draw a picture, others argue that these do not constitute true origins of infographics.
The real start of infographics, then, could be traced to ancient Egypt, where drawings were used much more purposefully. Hieroglyphics date back to 3300 BC, and they were put together to convey ideas behind things such as religion and to show what daily life was like at the time.
Graphical Forefathers and Foremothers
It was not until quite a bit later, in the late 1700s in England, that charts, graphs, maps and other visual elements we have come to associate with infographics became more common. Most say William Playfair’s book “The Commercial and Political Atlas,” published in 1786, gave the medium its modern start. In trying to make his arguments about the economy in England more interesting and compelling, Playfair used a variety of innovative formats, including:
- Line graphs
- Bar charts
Playfair later published books with pie charts, a first in England, with the aim of making his material more palatable to those who had little economic knowledge. Even hundreds of years ago, the motivation behind using an illustration was to show the most important parts of an argument. Playfair knew the visuals would draw people in. They’d learn almost in spite of themselves, even if they weren’t particularly passionate about economics. Eventually, Playfair became known as the father of modern statistical graphs.
While you certainly know the name of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing profession, you may not know that she, too, played a role in popularizing infographics. She’s credited with brainstorming the coxcomb graph, using a set of data she collected during her time as a nurse in the Crimean War. She tirelessly charted the causes of the deaths she saw and then rendered them in artistic form, using a “coxcomb,” basically a chart that looked a bit like a rose.
This chart made it clear that more men were dying due to disease than to actual wounds sustained during fighting. Nightingale argued the mortality graph made it clear that hospitals must improve sanitation rather than allow people to die from preventable causes.
Moving Toward the Modern Infographic
In the 1900s, three major things occurred to help further develop the idea of infographics. The first came in London, where two men, Alfred Leete and Harry Beck, came up with maps of the London Underground to help show people where the stations were located in relation to one another. Leete, a graphic artist, made his as part of an advertising deal with the Underground in the early 1900s. In 1933, Beck published an enhanced and improved map, which gave people a much better resource for finding their way around the city.
The second development came in 1972, when a poster made by Otl Aicher helped to popularize the modern stick figure we now see on crosswalk signs. Aicher made the designs for the Munich Olympics, depicting athletes in different moments of play, and the universality of his illustration was seen as a major step forward in visual communication.
Finally, in the 1970s, Peter Sullivan began to create something akin to today’s modern infographic. His illustrations ran in The Sunday Times, and he eventually wrote two books on newspaper graphic illustration before his death in 1996.
Other forms of media began using infographics well before digital. In addition to newspapers, television was also an earlier adopter of this form of communication. A few interesting recent uses of infographics on TV include:
- Norwegian electronic music duo Röyksopp used only infographics in a 2002 video.
- Areva, a French energy company, relied almost exclusively on infographics for a famous 2004 commercial.
- Newcasts began using infographics in the late 1990s and early 2000s, realizing the extra visual aid could help communicate information better to viewers.
TV wasn’t the only format to embrace infographics, though. They’re now widely used in magazines and other advertising media. Essentially, any visual medium can employ them — and with great success.
Infographics in Digital Marketing
That takes us up to today. Advances in technology helped to speed up the adoption and deployment of infographics. We’ve come a long way from the days of hand-drawn illustrations. Programs such as PowerPoint, Excel and Adobe Photoshop provide professional-quality graphic design. That makes it easier to post and promote these graphics online.
The rise of the internet has sparked the boom of digital marketing, and that’s where infographics have found their real niche. Marketers quickly realized that visuals are better at drawing people’s attention online than words. Study after study has shown that people retain and pay attention to visual information much better than to written or oral information.
Little wonder, then, that companies see a huge opportunity in infographics. They often have a great deal of information they’d like to get across to potential clients — but they know many of them won’t sift through paragraphs and paragraphs of word soup to get to that information.
Infographics have become the smartest way to distill this information. It’s sort of like the old song goes — just as “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” a bit of added visual interest helps get across what would otherwise be information people might skip over entirely. With the spread of technology, we have learned how to get what we want quickly and the same holds true for infographics — with just a few clicks online, you can order your own custom infographic.
The Benefits of Using Infographics in Content Marketing
There are many benefits of well-designed infographics for content marketing, which make this type of visual content one of the most widely used today. At The NetMen Corp, we have compiled the most relevant benefits of infographics. They include the following.
- Highlighting Relevant Facts and Numbers
Human beings love security, and, therefore, we are very attracted to concrete information such as data, numbers and statistics. At the same time, many humans are also very attracted to visual information. An infographic melts these two loves, information and imagery, in one engaging and structured and easily digestible piece of information.
- Having Fun
Well-designed professional graphic design pieces are meant to engage the viewer, convey a message and be fun. Great graphic design is consumed and not overlooked and thus infographic design provides opportunity to convey a message in a way that speaks to everyone!
- Offering an Easy-to-Understand Visual Source
In addition to the fact that the infographics are more visually attractive than the text, they are also easier to understand. The human brain can process and recall graphic information more efficiently than in text format, which makes informational graphics one of the best ways to communicate data.
- Becoming an Excellent Resource for a Web Page, Blog and Social Networks
People love to share information and images with others! The fact that an infographic is a way to consume content in a simple, fast and visual way, gives a graphic quality and also can be shared many times. Not only that, but infographics can be branded with your company or business logo and imagery so every time someone shares an infographic, the awareness and familiarity with your brand increases!
- Providing Brand Reinforcement
By using your company’s logo and branding in the design of an infographic, along with a range of colors and typography unique to your branding, your infographic design is entirely unique to your business. This allows your company’s branding and message to be shared all across the web and may help market your business in an indirect way.
- Simplifying Complicated Information
There are many products and services in which the processes, stages, characteristics or operations are difficult to understand. Infographics provide a great solution because they allow an explanation of a complicated process in a visual way that will make it easier for more people to understand.
If your product or service is difficult to understand or you want to show their benefits and qualities offered by the competition, then having an infographic designed by a professional graphic design agency is the perfect solution to your problem! The people who are part of the sales team know better than anyone that with certain products the customer needs to “see to believe”. Infographics provide a great way to share data and information in a way that is easy to understand – making potential customers feel more comfortable and confident in your company!
- Improving Search Engine Optimization
You want as many people as possible to come to your website. Using SEO is the best way to draw in new people to your site and possibly gain new customers as well. By using SEO good practices, such as posting infographics on your site, you can increase the ranking for your pages, which will benefit from having great content.
The real key to SEO is having the strongest information possible, and infographics play into that strategy. If you want to look like an expert, a polished infographic will go a long way toward convincing people that’s what you are.
Contact Us Today to Get Started on an Infographic
At The NetMen Corp, we are a professional online graphic design agency that will design infographics that will complement your marketing material. Our professionally designed infographics provide a tangible expression of what you are offering your audience and reinforce a vital part of any business plan you have in mind!