Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

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Entries in money (130)


How Much Should You Spend on Sales & Marketing?

 The Corporate Marketing and Sales Spend Landscape infographic

The Corporate Marketing and Sales Spend Landscape is an infographic about publicly traded companies and how much revenue they spend on sales & marketing. The general rule of thumb, based off of a 2014 Gartner Research study, is that a company should invest 10% of their revenue into marketing. However, a 2014 CMO survey, published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University, came to find that the 10% rule isn't true for all types of companies.

This infographic from Vital is a representation of those findings and shows how much each business style actually spends on marketing. 

Determining the affect of marketing on a company’s growth is not black and white. There are many factors that combine to create a successful and growing business. However, without marketing and sales a company gets very little, if any, promotion or exposure, meaning the chances of growth are slim to none. This is a well-known fact among marketers, evident in the amount of dollars successful corporations allocate towards sales and marketing every year. In 2014, Microsoft, Cisco, Quest Diagnostics, Intel, Salesforce, Constant Contact, LinkedIn, Marketo, Bottomline Technologies, Marin Software, IDEXX Laboratories, Tempur Sealy, Tableau and Twitter among many more all had marketing and sales budgets that were greater than 14% of revenue, some spending as much as 50%! All of these companies also grew year-over-year.

So, how does a company determine how much of their budget to spend on marketing? We decided to look at a handful of some of the most successful large and mid-sized companies across a range of industries to find out how much they allocate for marketing and what they get in return.

Read more at https://vtldesign.com

The order the companies are listed is confusing. There's doesn't seem to be any reasoning behind the sequence. It's not marketing spend dollars or percentage, or total revenue, or revenue growth YOY or even alphabetical.

It's not clear that the orange number shown for each company is the marketing spend dollars, not total revenue. The orange color-coordination with the doughnut chart implies that, but it should be more obvious.

I also think they meant to imply a connection between marketing spend and revenue growth, but that connection is not obvious in the infographic. The revenue growth in gray text-only looks like an afterthought.

Great source citations in the footer. They should also include a copyright statement and the URL link directly to the infographic landing page so readers can find the original full-size version.

This is also a good example of the Fair Use of trademarked logos to report comparisons between the various companies.

Found on Marketing Profs


The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club

The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club infographic

The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club is visualized by CB Insights in this chart showing the dates when these 141 companies became unicorns by reaching the $1 Billion valuation mark.

We looked at all still-private unicorns since 2011 and charted them based on when they first joined the unicorn club. While initially the chart shows unicorns being created at a relatively calm pace, the rhythm accelerates noticeably in late 2013 (right around the time Aileen Lee wrote her famous post coining the term unicorn in November 2013). Since then, there has been an explosion in unicorn creation, with over 60 new unicorns in 2015 alone.

The heights of the lines have no meaning, they are just connectors to the company logos.

This is a really good visualization that tells one story really well without crowding it with a bunch of extra information about the companies. Knowing that the image will most often be shared as a stand-alone piece, it would have been teer for them to include the URL back to the original infographic and a copyright statement in the infographic JPG image file itself.


Largest Company by Revenue in Each State 2015

Largest Company by Revenue in Each State 2015 map

The Largest Company by Revenue in Each State 2015 map was created by Broadview Networks by using Hoover’s, a D&B Company's data. Even though there might be "bigger" companies in each state than the ones represented, the map is specifically looking at the greatest amount of revenue from the 2015 financial year.

You may have seen the Largest Companies by Revenue map we put together in June of last year, well we’re back with an updated version using Hoover’s 2015 data.  Last year’s map created so much buzz and insightful conversation that we deemed it essential to find out how it’s changed over the past year.  Using Hoover’s, a D&B Company, we searched through each state’s list of companies to find which had the largest revenue in the last fiscal year.  It was interesting to see how each company’s revenues have changed over the year (for better or worse) and to see if a new largest company had emerged.

At first glance, you may ask, “Where are Apple and Microsoft?”  Yes, these are huge companies but this map is specifically looking at total revenue from the last fiscal year.  If we look at California with Apple vs. Chevron, there is a large discrepancy between market value and total revenues.  Apple’s market value as of March 31, 2015 was $724 billion while Chevron’s was only (and we use “only” lightly) $197 billion.  In terms of revenue, Chevron comes out on top with $203 billion in the last fiscal year while Apple had revenues of $182 billion.

Please note: We used Hoover’s company database as our source, not the most recent Fortune 500 list.  Location and state are based on the corporate headquarters of that company, no branches or foreign offices.  Lastly, we decided not to include any subsidiaries or government entities for the sake of staying consistent.

I liked how they didn't manipulate the US map. Manipulation would have taken the focus away from the company's logos. If you click on the infographic, the original allows you to zoom in close enough to comfortably see small states, like CVS is Rhode Island's largest company of 2015. This infographic could of easily been overworked but instead they kept it simple.

The company post inspired a lot of discussion about the data, and I think that was part of the purpose behind the design. Is this the best data to show? Where are some of the more recognizable companies? There's even at least one error in the map.

Found on Broadview Networks VoIP Blog


UK Tax Burden Infographic Video

The UK Tax video, posted on Youtube by See What You Mean, explains how much money you actually receive after taxes in the UK. Below is the final infographic.

UK Tax Burden Infographic Video

The tax and deductions on your job are much higher than you might think. The Government likes to talk about a ‘20p rate’ – as if that’s all you pay. But actually, for a typical middle income graduate, total deductions are more than 48p in every pound earned (over the £21k threshold). And will rise to nearly 60p when the statutory pension scheme comes in by 2018.

What will it do for the incentive to work and do better, and to the UK’s general prosperity, when graduates only get 40% of any extra they earn?
Against this backdrop some politicians still talk of increasing the taxes on these middle earners.

This is a great example of using the hand-drawn style of design for infographics. Often used for graphic recording of events and meetings, the hand-drawn style has the look of someone just drawing on a whiteboard.

Video infographics tells stories in a very linear way, and in this case the visual metaphor of a road builds on that linear storyline even more. The drawing continues to build and reveal more information as the video progresses, and the viewer can see the overall design coming together.

I say this often, but I'll say it again. "Big numbers are not data visualizations." Visualizations can help the audience by showing the taxes percentages as taking their portion of a person's total salary. Just showing the text number of the percentages, doesn't help the viewers understand how large that tax burden is to them.

Thanks to Richard for sending in the link!


The True Cost of a Bad Hire

The True Cost of a Bad Hire infographic

The True Cost of a Bad Hire infographic from Executives Online in the UK puts into perspective the £4.13 billion a year that UK businesses are losing from a bad hire. With one £50 note being less than 1 mm thick, the stack would reach about 933 meters tall. London’s Big Ben is 96 meters tall.

People are a businesses most valuable resource. Actively finding and attracting top talent is a never-ending task for any company that aspires to be the best.

The amount of new hires that don’t work out is frightening – in fact a study by leadership IQ across a range of industries and job roles found that up to 48% of new hires fail within 18 months. It’s a problem that’s estimated to cost UK businesses over £4 billion a year.

So What’s The True Cost When One Of These New Hires Doesn’t Work Out? 

Outside of the obvious salary cost, there are a significant number of tangible and intangible factors that can drive the cost of a failed hire much higher than initially estimated. 

We used an example of a £100k per annum executive to answer one question: “What’s the true cost of a bad executive hire?” We factored in salary, benefits, the cost of the recruitment and sourcing process, and the knock on effects of having a poor performing individual in a role for up to a year.

Using data from a range of external sources and our own databases we arrived at a final figure showing this cost to be around three and a half times more than a year’s salary. To demonstrate the scale of this cost we laid it all out in a infographic as well as breaking down how that cost was arrived at.

So Why Do Bad Hires Happen?

Part of this failure to make successful hires is down to company policies focussing on hiring cost rather than ROI.

As Steve Jobs put it: “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C payers… I’ve noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1”.

Next time you’re making an executive hire, remember what it will cost if it doesn’t work out! 

It’s a long/tall infographic design, but I think that the length is actually part of the visual story in this case.

Visually, the grids would be easier for readers to understand if the rows were 10 icons across instead of 20. We live in a Base-10 society. Rows of only 10 would make the infographic twice as long, but an alternative would be to add some spacing to visually separate the left 10 from the right 10. Same thought for vertical spacing. It would help to have a gap in the icon grids every 10 rows.

The confusing part is that every icon is a £50 note, so with 20 icons, each row represents an even £1,000. That’s why I think they designed the rows to be 20 icons across.

Odd that they published the infographic as a transparent PNG file.

Thanks to Alex for sending in the link!


False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics

Accuracy is the most important aspect of an infographic design!

Last week, the article The Truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge by Julia Belluz on Vox Media included the infographic, Where We Donate vs. Diseases That Kill Us, that used proportionally sized circles as its data visualization. The problem with this design is that the circle sizes don’t match the values shown. This is a false visualization and significantly over exaggerates the smaller amounts of money contributed to each charity and the deaths attributed to each cause.

This causes problems because readers often just look at the visuals without reading the actual numbers. They start with the assumption that a visualization accurately represents the data. The Vox Media story and infographic already have over 12,000 shares on Facebook, and this is a great case study for designers to understand how important it is to visualize data accurately.

As readers, we see the area of two-dimensional shapes on the page to represent the different values, but design software only allows width and height adjustments to size shapes. Designers make the mistake of adjusting the diameter of circles to match the data instead of the area, which incorrectly sizes the circles dramatically. It takes some geometry calculations in a spreadsheet to find the areas and then calculate the appropriate diameters for each circle. To demonstrate, I created this corrected version of the infographic.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised

My Google Docs spreadsheet of the correct circle area and diameter calculations is available here.

Assuming this was a design mistake, and there was no intent to deceive the audience, this is a common mistake that many designers make.  So many designers, that I included an entire section on this topic in the Cool Infographics book to help designers understand how to size the area of circles.

I made one other improvement to the corrected design above by removing the color legend and listing the charities and causes of death right next to the appropriate circles. This makes the whole visualization easier for the audience to read by eliminating the need to look back-and-forth from the circles to the color legend to figure out what each circle represents.  Placing the text next to each circle keeps the information in the reader’s field of view which minimizes eye movement.

Sticking with the circles data visualization style, I wanted to take the design a little bit further. I would recommend one of two alternate improvements.  First, adding colored connecting lines is one way to make it easier for the audience to find the related circles in the columns sorted in descending order.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised Lines

A second alternative would be to sort the lists to line up the related circles.  This makes it much easier for the audience to see the direct comparisons between charitable contributions and death rates related to the same cause.

False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics Revised Descending Sort

I’m passing over any discussion about whether using proportionally sized circles (a bubble chart) is the best visualization method for this data. If a designer makes the choice to use sized shapes, my point is that the data visualizations in the infographic must match the numbers using area.  David Mendoza published a good analysis worth reading and designed an alternative way to visualize the data in his article, This Bubble Chart Is Killing Me.

How else would you improve this design?

NOTE: I was able to contact the designer who created the infographic at Vox Media, and he had already realized his error after the infographic had been published. As I had guessed, he had mistakenly adjusted the diameter of the circles instead of the area. He told me that he’s working on updating the official infographic design in the article, but it hasn’t been published on the Vox Media site yet.



Missing Money

Missing Money Infographic

It is no secret that the U.S. is deep in debt. But something you might not know is how much money the U.S. can’t find. The Missing Money infographic from Masters in Accounting covers multiple instances where huge amounts of money are unaccounted for.

With a national debt approaching $17 trillion, Uncle Sam is tightening his belt and looking under the cushions for extra change. But a closer look at his pocket book reveals just how little he knows about where your money is going. Below are a few examples that will make you think twice about Uncle Sam’s accounting skills.

This infographic shares some bold accusations, all meant to be shocking to the readers.  The sources are clearly cited in the footer, but in this case I would recommend including each source along with the claim in the infographic.  The publisher isn’t making any of these claims themselves, just sharing the claims from others, and that should be made clearer to the audience.  It would also be easier for the audience to follow the source link, and learn more about any particualr claim.

The first chart showing the annual increase in the U.S. Debt caused by the budget deficit should show the deficit amount at the bottom of each column instead of the top.  That would visually show that the deficit is the cause of the growing debt from one year to the next by placing it at the end of the column where the heights are different.

Thanks to Merrill for sending in the link!


How to Buy a Used Car: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Car Buying


How to Buy a Used Car: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Car Buying infographic

For some buying a used car is fun, for others troublesome. The How to Buy a Used Car: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Car Buying infographic from Toyota Certified gives some interesting facts and tips on buying a used car.

Whether you’re in the market for a family SUV, or a sporty little two-seater just for you, buying a used car is something that most of us do at least once in a lifetime. Toyota recently did a fascinating survey that outlines 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Car Buying and found that 26% of us find the experience fun and interesting… and 52% of buyers have no idea what model they want until they step into the dealership! Check out this fun infographic that takes a closer look at America’s car buying experience and you may discover some interesting facts you didn’t know… and some helpful tips about buying your next used vehicle, as well.

Good design, and I love that Toyota Certified (the used car division of Toyota) is sharing some of their internal customer information publicly.  They definitely need to do a better job citing the sources of the data, but some of these statistics are clearly based on Toyota sales numbers.  Others like the “Top Brand Loyalty” that shows Toyota as #1 are suspect because no source is listed.

A few of the percentage statistics could be better visualized.  A percentage is always comparing the statistical value to the total possible of 100%.   So numbers like “53% of buyers prefer their first dealer interaction to be online” should be shown as a stacked bar totaling 100%.  Others like “80% of people used the Internet in their car research” weren’t visualized at all, which makes them feel less important and secondary information to the audience.

Data visualization errors like the doughnut chart of the “Most Popular Colors” just hurt the brand credibility.  You can’t have a pie chart or a doughnut chart that only adds up to 88%.  They must total 100%!

Thanks to Belinda for sending in the link!


What the Heck is a Bitcoin

What the Heck is a Bitcoin infographic

The Bitcoin is the first widely traded digital crypto-currency that is decentralized and unregulated. Find out more from the What the Heck is a Bitcoin infographic by SumAll.

Exchanges rising and falling, disputes over inventorship, wild accusations, rapid inflation and deflation, anger, confusion, and sadness. We’re talking about everyone’s favorite unicorn money: Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s six year road to the spotlight has been fraught with more turbulence than a flight through a hurricane in a Learjet, and since mid 2013 it’s only gotten more crazy.

SumAll has just added bitcoin exchanges, mining pools, and mining workers to our range of data platforms to allow our customers to keep tabs on the market and the progress of mining pools. For those who own or mine bitcoins, SumAll is now their one-stop-shop for keeping tabs on all things bitcoin, monitoring their mining efforts, and keeping a close watch over their investments.

For those who don’t own or mine bitcoins, chances are you have no idea what we’re talking about.

If you have an interest in bitcoins and don’t want to be that out-of-the-loop guy at the party who just keeps nodding his head in agreement and staring at your drink, we made this handy infographic to explain a few basic concepts to get you started. Soon you’ll be buying all your pizza–and rent–with bitcoins

Good design that tells a story to the audience, but this one uses too much text.  I wish they had included some data visualizations about the difficulty to mine bitcoins or the strength of the encryption.  The one dataset they did visualize was the value of bitcoins from Jan-Dec 2013.  The value changes so rapidly, including that one data visualization can quickly make the infographic feel old and out-of-date.  For a longer Online Lifespan, the design should focus more on the long-term, consistent information about bitcoins and not the most recent trending data.

This is a good example of the company, SumAll, using an infographic as part of their email marketing campaign.  The infographic was included as the highlight in one of their email blasts to customers with a link back to the full design on their website!


Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Project

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Project infographic

Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.

LeVar Burton has a fantastic Kickstarter project running to bring back Reading Rainbow to make it available on multiple internet connected platforms and free to classrooms in need.  The team is using multiple infographics to help explain the project and the support the funding campaign goal of raising $5,000,000.

Hi. LeVar Burton here. You may know me as Kunta Kinte, from ROOTS, or Geordi La Forge, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

You also may have grown up with me on Reading Rainbow. 

It was my mother who taught me that, by picking up a book, I could “go anywhere” and “be anything.” Ever since Reading Rainbow began in 1983, I have dedicated myself to fostering a love of reading in children, just as my mother did for me. 

Over the past year, I have watched Kickstarter bring communities together to support artists and inventors. Again and again, I have been inspired by watching like-minded people team up to accomplish impossible dreams, and to change the world. 

Now, I am hoping you will join me on my mission: to bring Reading Rainbow back for every child, everywhere.

The infographic design above could be improved with the knowledge that people may share the infographic image without the rest of the text and information from the kickstarter page.  It should be able to stand alone as an independent asset with a title, and the URL for readers to find their way back to the original infographic on the Kickstarter campaign landing page. 

The visualizations help make a huge amount of information about the project easily accessible and understandable to the audience.  Take for example this simple illustration of the platforms they would like to reach.  Visualizing the multiple devices and operating systems makes the goal super easy to understand.

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Project platforms

I think this is an incredibly worthy project, and I hope you join me in contributing:

The way Kickstarter works, contributors at different gift amount levels can earn different types of swag merchandise and benefits.  This project is particularly complicated with 24 different funding levels with different swag.  Although mostly text, the visual lists of funding levels help potential contributors choose their amounts.  However, visualizing the swag and benefits with illustrations, icons or photos would have been more helpful.

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Project rewards

Infographics for the higher levels of contributions and rewards included images, but simple icons for bumper stickers and coffee mugs would make the first list easier to understand.

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Project Limited rewards

Infographics have helped make the campaign a huge success, and also made it easier for people to share through social media.