One of the most powerful tools available to businesses is market research. It provides valuable insights into both markets and customers, meaning decisions can be taken in greater confidence and competitive advantage can be gained.
The challenge for researchers is making sure these insights are understood and acted upon. This means finding creative and imaginative ways to present the research so that it is compelling, engaging and resonates with not only the immediate client team but also across the whole organisation.
My role at B2B International as part of the visualisation team is to make this happen. And it is this word, ‘visualisation’, which will form the basis of this blog post. There are certain rules that we follow when producing all of our visual content which help ensure the audience find it compelling and engaging.
The importance of visuals cannot be understated. Attention spans are on the decline and short, immediate bursts of data and information is the order of the day. Market research outputs, and indeed any form of output, need to be visual and easy to digest.
The rise of social media has no doubt helped to amplify this. Information is consumed in bursts of 140 characters on Twitter, and billions of images are being shared daily on the likes of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Capturing the attention of people now means catching their eye.
Market research is no different, and the birth of our visualisation team at B2B International is testimony to that. It all started with infographics delivered at the end of a project to summarise the key findings and recommended actions – the visual cherry on top so-to-speak. Nowadays it has filtered down to everything we produce. The final deck of reporting slides that follow the completion of a project is one example.
So how do we turn our outputs, often packed full of figures and graphs, into something that is visually compelling? Below are 5 top tips myself and the rest of the visualisation team follow when designing outputs for clients:
Keep on brand. It is crucial that outputs maintain visual consistency. Fonts and colours are especially important here – use the main brand font for key messages and a simple sans serif font for the rest. Colours can also be used to draw attention to key messages in much the same way.
Ditch the clip art – go for stock images. We are bombarded with images everywhere we look, from the websites and apps we browse on our phones to the adverts and billboards we see when out and about. People expect a certain quality and clip art and free icons do not fit the bill.
Use appropriate animation. A quick flash or a fade can help make a slide more impactful. Flutters, checkerboards and swirls on the other hand have the opposite effect. Less really is more.
Keep things simple. A page of text is never going to fit on a PowerPoint slide, so it’s unrealistic to think this can be visualised. A couple of key points, supported by simple icons and data visualisation have a much bigger impact.
Make it fun. A journey or road map visualisation is one of the best ways to present data. They can be used to summarise a whole project or part of a project. These are tailored to specific audiences and so it isn’t uncommon for more than one to be produced for different areas of a business.
For more information on data visualisation, or to see some of the work we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!