With a dizzying number of tools, apps and online resources available to business communicators, it can be difficult to keep up. Here are five of our favorites; our go-to sources for inspiration, innovative design and fresh ideas. Happy Holidays!
Creative Market— Creative Market is an online marketplace for community-generated design assets. The website sells graphics, WordPress themes, stock photography, and other digital goods. If you are building infographics, there are thousands of icons to choose from. www.creativemarket.com.
Grammarly—Unlike cursive handwriting, correct grammar never goes out of style. Grammarly’s writing app helps ensure your writing is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free by automatically detecting grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and style error. It’s available as a free Chrome extension or online at www.grammarly.com.
HBR IdeaCast—This weekly podcast by the Harvard Business Review features leading thinkers in business and management. What’s the connection to communications? Great leaders understand the value of communications and alignment with corporate values. There are lots of clever ideas to nab here. Available on Apple Podcast and www.HBR.org.
Ted Talks—Everyone needs a 15 minute mental vacation from the daily grind. Watch a Ted Talk. Our recommendation for business communicators is Talk Nerdy to Me by Melissa Marshall. In less than five minutes she outlines a formula for bringing scientific content to a general audience. Use this approach whenever you’re sharing complex (or boring) information. www.TedTalks.com
Unsplash—There is no better site for beautiful, free images and photos than Unsplash. You can download high resolution files to use for any project. No attribution required (although always appreciated). Just spend 10 minutes scrolling through the photo files and you’ll be inspired to improve the look of your presentations or handouts. www.unsplash.com
If you’re like us, you’re always looking for ways to get your message across in new, unique, and interesting way. One form of communication that you might not have considered is the use of infographics. What exactly are infographics you might ask? Infographics or informational graphics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge that present complex information quickly and clearly. Many of your colleagues are visual learners and a graphic representation of complex information might be just what is needed to communicate your message.
Think about it. Which would you rather read– a multi-page word document or a one-page graphical representation of that data? Studies have shown that people remember more of what they see than what they read. Images grab your attention and are more engaging than plain text. Seizing and retaining your audience’s attention is crucial. Once you have their attention you can get down to the data.
There are many ways you can graphically represent data. One of the quickest and easiest ways to present large amounts of quantitative data is through graphs and charts. Infographics put a fun, colorful twist on a typical bar graph or pie chart.
Quantitative data seems like an obvious match for an infographic but what if the data or message you want express is qualitative? Maps are often used in infographics to express step by step directions. This can be a great tool if your business is introducing new policies or procedures.
Visual stories are another type of infographic that give your audience a large amount of data without having to read large amounts of texts. A few areas where you might want to consider incorporating infographics include: recruiting, simplifying complex information, recognizing achievements, raising awareness for company changes, presenting data and promoting events.
There are really no limits or restrictions to how you incorporate infographics into your company’s communication plan. Think outside the box and see what ideas you can come up with. For smaller companies that might not have the budget to pay for design work check out canva.com and explore their free design tools.
Last week, soccer fans in the Atlanta metro area received the long-awaited announcement from Major League Soccer that their city had finally been awarded an expansion team. Arthur Blank, the owner of the new Atlanta soccer franchise, will have some interesting decisions to make in the coming months and years that will mold the brand, and ultimately the success, of the team.
Brand management is one of Blank’s strong suits, as he has shown throughout his tenure as owner of both Home Depot and the Atlanta Falcons. Blank bought the Falcons in 2002 and transformed them into one of the NFL’s more successful franchises, despite naysayers claiming Atlantans were not capable of such support. However, those naysayers point to low attendance numbers from Atlanta sports franchises such as the Hawks (basketball), Braves (baseball), and the now-defunct Thrashers (hockey) — none of which Blank had or has any involvement. After buying the Falcons, Blank showed his commitment to rebranding the team by implementing new uniform designs, investing millions of dollars in renovations to the team’s stadium, and many other internal changes. It was an unqualified branding success.
So the question that looms now is how this team will look and feel when it takes the field for the first time in the Spring of 2017. As I write this, almost everything is up in the air. The only thing anyone knows for sure about the franchise is that they’ll play in Blank’s new stadium, and their color scheme will combine red, yellow and black.
Given what we know about Blank and how much work is yet to be done, this franchise will be an excellent case study to follow. Who exactly does Blank see as his fan base and how will he market this team to those people? How will he reach out to non-soccer fans in the area? How will the atmosphere of the games be in such a cavernous complex? Heck, what will he name the team? We can use this case as a guide as to how one of our modern titans of industry can leverage his product through the use of strategic marketing and brand management. I, for one, wouldn’t bet against him.