An infographic video is much like a french omelette though it appears simple on the outside, has layers of complexity in the inside. For an infographic to make an impact one has to strictly follow a recipe. Any shortcuts, complacency or deviation would leave a chewy mess much like it does for a french omelette.
Animation once a medium that was reserved for entertainment is now a medium that is omnipresent in the digital universe. Everywhere you go you see banner ads, animated infographics, GIFs, memes, and even emotional stories are being animated.
In a day and age where hundreds of agencies can make amazing characters and stories using animation, how do you actually test if the agency is going to deliver the goods for you.
Is there a litmus test for agency's mettle? Is there an equivalent of a ‘French Omelette’ for Videos? Of course, there is! Before we get to that,
If you think it is simple to make a perfect French omelette, and wonder why chefs around the world use this to test newbies, Just read below and you will be surprised the complexity with such abstemious use of ingredients:
A good omelette starts off with fresh eggs at the right temperature, if you break when they are too cold or too old, you are going to get a coagulated chewy mess.
Then comes in breaking them, breaking the yolk and stirring the mixture. (9 out of 10 people get this one wrong). The resultant mixture should be an emulsion of yolks and white, not too frothy but well aerated. As this happens, the right pan (Carbon steel, nonstick pan) of the correct size is heating on the stove. You gotta feel it and know when it is right, Then comes in the butter, too much butter you will be left with an oily mess, too little you are going to end up with a scrambled mess (Oh this is not scrambled eggs by the way). Once the butter gets to the right color, the eggs are carefully poured in. Phew.. you thought this was over.
Now comes the scrambling, a skill of forming small curds with a fork, wooden spoon or chopsticks to a point where they are just set, not too gooey not too solid. You then carefully push this mixture to one end of the pan with a light tap forming a small crust. You then turn around without breaking that crust and then fold it. You tap the other side helping it to curl on the edge of the pan and fold the other side in forming a perfect almond, at this point you can wedge in your fillings if any.
Now you expertly turn the omelette in the pan and place the omelette on a warm plate (Cold plate will destroy the whole effort). A perfect gold color, smooth and with no air pockets on the outside and nice and creamy on the inside.
It is an ultimate test of skill, understanding the chemistry of the ingredients in play and its interplay with heat and trusting your senses. A Friend of mine had to break 124 eggs before he got the perfect one. He worked and served at some of the finest kitchens in the world.
As Alberto Cairo (One of the foremost authorities in Infographic Journalism) says: “Infographics are like glasses. If you take the glasses off, everything is blurry and you can’t distinguish what is in front of you. The blurry mess is data. When you put the glasses on, everything makes sense. The glasses are adapted to you and it filters the blurry mess into something you can understand. The glasses are infographics”. Sounds more like the french omelette I described before, something that appears so simple yet so complex with many layers.
This is why an animated infographic for me is an ultimate litmus test for an video agency. The reality is even scarier, you can no longer throw factoids and graphs and expect the video to go viral. I can actually see this trend with the work we used to do and what we currently do. So how do you create the best infographic video that stands out? What is the perfect recipe?
Before we get to the recipe, let’s break down the science of why infographics actually work and how it is important for video marketing strategy.
Video Infographic aka “Animated Infographic” is a data rich visualization of a story or thesis, a tool to educate, inform and build brand awareness. These are produced by combining various graphics and animations to create an informational video that helps explain data in an engaging way.
Infographics videos come in multiple forms and hence are very hard to define. With such a loose definition, anything, where verbal and visual elements are combined, can be considered an infographic video. These type of videos have played a crucial role in journalism and now has transcended into various forms of business messaging.
Here are couple of infographic video examples explaining a technology product and a premium consulting service.
Infographic for Service:
Infographic for a Product:
Infographic videos are also great when you have a lot of data from survey and you want to communicate insights
Why is infographics such a crucial medium? This is because your brain craves an infographic, here is a infographic to explain why your brain craves an infographic.
While this is simplified if you are interested to read about it in depth, there are some amazing scientific research that has gone to prove this (Like this one)
Now coming back to the perfect recipe, this below is the Jacques Pepin equivalent of a what a good infographic must have.
Like making a good French Omelette, a good infographic video also has a recipe. One has to diligently follow the ingredients from start to finish to make it work. So what does this entail? Here are five essential ingredients for your review:
When you start thinking about making an infographic video, knowing your endgame matters. What is that you are aiming for? What questions or burning issues of your target it solves? What ingredients do you need in that infographic for it get you key metrics?
Once you know the endgame and have a vision of this amazing infographic, you now start working backward to what is possible. The first step is to pick and choose amongst your data and ideas and filter the less interesting one out.
Now working backward, you need to fish out an interesting story within this data. can you see the burning issue in this data? If you aren’t convinced. Start Again. If it doesn’t tell a story, it is not a infographic.
Infographics rely on solid accurate content, while visual design is an important element, but your content is weak, your presentation will fail.
A good animated infographic should tell a story. A lot of video agencies make the mistake of dumping copious of amounts of data and graphs and present them as infographics. Consider this, if everyone has access to this data (thank you Google) and your infographic doesn't present any insight or doesn't tell you something new, would it have an emotional impact on the user?
If you are making an infographic about Marijuana laws, you want the data to show why these laws came into being. The data should carry this story to showcase where we are going and what should one expect in the future from these changes. What one doesn't want is a visual diarrhea of graphs and statistics.
Your data sources are important, the best data for video infographics is always your own, but this is often time-consuming and expensive. If you don't have any other choice but to use publically available data. You have to understand that no two sources are the same and understand the shortcomings of each of these sources to avoid embarrassment.
Infographic videos are long associated with cognitive decision making. They have been designed to appeal to the right brain and drive rational decisions. But who's to say that these videos shouldn't entertain or educate?
Your narrative plays a big role here, you have to make you viewers react, comment and form opinions. To achieve this you have to take a side of an argument. You can't maintain a neutral stance and be unbiased and expect the infographic last the test of time. You want your statements to remain relevant as the time goes by.
Here are infographic video examples that exemplifies my assertions:
As you can see the angst, the distrust, the anger in the speaker reflecting the state of affairs when it comes to Justice. In the end, the narrative leaves the audience with a very activistic and positive undertone. Leaving them with a view that however flawed the system is, the fight continues.
What do you choose, do you pick up topics that are trending to ride the tide or would you look at topics that will be relevant? With trending topics, you are going to have a lot of opinions and infographics are going to help you stand out. Done well, you get noticed and you create a stir. The problem here is you have a short window of opportunity. If you don't ride the tide soon enough and publish something of value the whole exercise becomes futile.
You can actually see a fair increase in use of infographics by journalists to stand out especially when they are competing in the age of citizen journalism.
Here is an interactive infographic by elmundo.es, that garnered over 11 million views in just 6 days.
An ageless topic in fairy-tale parlance is like a tortoise competing with a hare. The results accumulate in due time, but the content can be used for years to come and the content never goes out of style.
Here is an ageless topic that was about diabetes awareness, which is and will be a perennial issue.
Do note, that the ultimate objective in making an infographic video is to inform the audience if it doesn’t do that, it is not one. It doesn’t matter where it does this job in the buyer’s life cycle, the ultimate goal is presentation of the information.
Once you have these 4 pillars sorted, it is time to think about a good visual design for your animated infographic that helps with your brand recall. At this point you will have two options, one is using an online software like Animaker or Animatron that has a lot of templates to present your data or reach out to a company that understands infographic videos inside out and create a handcrafted art style for your video.
Like any investment, investing in visual design to create an immaculate infographic is paramount, it requires a solid team of artisans who have been trained in this medium and who understand the nuances of infographic art. If you are a small company and don’t have enough budgets you can start with DIY infographic video softwares or templates.
When it comes to distribution unless you are Kim Kardashian, people are not going to flock to your content and comment on them. You really need to understand what works for your business, have a solid deployment strategy, both paid and organic and how you can optimize your SEO so that your content doesn't get lost in the midst of the chaos that is the digital web.
Even some of the best content fail to make an impression and the not so great content which fails every logic makes it to the top. As an example see the most viewed animated video is 2017 is this one:
What do you think of this one? Did you like it, let me know your comments below.
Here is a table that tells the differences between a DIY infographic vs Handcrafted
|Parameter||DIY Infographics||Handcrafted Infographics|
|Quality:||Video animation output will obviously lack depth and finesse as you are limited by the objects and typography provided by the platform.||The output can be fine-tuned as per the needs and the budget. The only limiting factor is the skill of the artist.|
|Uniqueness:||Animations are done from pre-built libraries. This can hurt your brand in the long run as there is a good chance that these objects would be used by some other company.||The infographic video will be built from ground up, with a firm understanding of your vision, your customer and brand. This means what we create for you is something you will have right to and will own. It will be unique to your brand.|
|The Team:||A video is a sum of a lot of parts, requires various skill sets to deliver. Now you may have the best script, but without a good visual designer, the video will fall flat. You might have the best designer but without a good script, it will fall flat. Too much risk!||A cohesive team which has years of experience works on an handcrafted project, brainstorming and executing with expertise, the resultant video is designed to make an impact.|
|Time and Effort:||“Do-It-Yourself” stuff sounds easy and quick, it’s not. You have to invest your time in learning platform as well as doing all i.e Script, Concept, VO , Animation and Music all by yourself. It just so happens that people spend 4 week and then decide it doesn’t work for them.||You save time, energy and effort leaving your worries to a team that understands this.|
|Call to Action:||The purpose of an infographic is to inform, but one needs to understand that the visual design plays a crucial role in keeping engagement. Templated content often get monotonous and boring as the fine skills of understanding how the imagery and placement affects cognitive thinking is essential, the lack of flexibility in using the preset libraries would limit that.||There is a good chance that a team with experience will design a cohesive style to your audience so that the video works, the other advantage being that you can create a changes to smaller elements like a character, your theme and VO to A/B test what works best for you.|
Designers who make good infographics understand brain uses peripheral vision to process images and importance of design and placement of graphics is essential for information and insights not to be lost.
If you take a short cut route, you might probably get some value in the short term, but in the long term your quality would take a hit and so will your brand image. As with any content, quality is paramount, focusing on a medium that you audience care about and consume will reap benefits and this comes at a certain cost.
You can see it for yourself, here is one of the better examples of a DIY video, would you risk your brand on this limitation:
In summary, here are the key takeaways:
In closing, if you as a company eventually take a plunge into the infographics game and if you don’t have a team to make them. You will eventually reach out to a lot of video vendors. When evaluating them test them with the right questions. If something is amiss, I suggest that you stay shy of the vendor in question and avoid the visual diarrhea that results from it. “If you can’t get your omelette right, chances are you are not going to get away making a foie gras”.