We’ve written at length in the past about how marketing is less about selling to people and more about telling a story that they can connect with. It’s not about convincing people that what you have to offer will change their life – it’s about trying to tell a story that lets them arrive at that conclusion on their own.
It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about – be it a piece of marketing collateral or a novel or a screenplay – a story is a story is a story and all of the major principles of successful storytelling remain true regardless of the delivery mechanism you’re talking about.
One of the most important elements of this comes down to the “spine” of your story, or the major idea that you’re trying to reinforce.
The spine of your story can be anything. It can be the narrative journey that your product took to development and release. It can be about all of the major contributions that your business has made to the surrounding community.
But if your Infographic doesn’t have that spine at the heart of it all, it won’t have momentum. It won’t have focus. It will have nothing driving it forward and enticing your readers to keep going.
At that point, you’re in trouble. All because you lost sight of what really mattered.
When In Doubt, Always Listen to William Goldman
If you’re not familiar with the name William Goldman, you’re probably familiar with some of his work. As a screenwriter, he both held the record (for a period of time) for the most expensive script sold AND won an Oscar for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He wrote both the book and the film “The Princess Bride.”
He won another Oscar for the political thriller “All the President’s Men.” He’s also an accomplished playwright and novelist, having authored books like “Which Lie Did I Tell?” and “Adventures in the Screen Trade.”
All of this is to say that when it comes to storytelling, he’s an incredibly important voice to listen to.
Goldman is a big, big advocate of finding the spine of the story you’re trying to tell before you do anything else. Not only does it allow you to stay focused on what you’re trying to say and what you’re trying to accomplish, but it also allows you to hone in on the impression that you want to leave with your audience. It lets you see your finished content through someone else’s eyes, therefore giving you an impression of what matters and what doesn’t.
In his book “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” Goldman writes at length about a scene he tried for years to find a way to fit into “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It featured Butch as a young man and it was fascinating from a character perspective… but it strayed too far from the spine of the story, which was “two legends fall on hard times, flee the country and become legends all over again.” It was a terrific scene, but Butch as a young man just wasn’t a part of that spine and, therefore, had to go.
Again: William Goldman has multiple Oscars and his very wealthy, so he seems to know what he’s talking about.
What’s in a Spine?
It’s easy to see how this logic can apply to the “spine” of the Infographic that you’re in the process of creating with a tool like Visme. In this context, the spine might be the thesis – the major idea that you’re trying to leave someone with, or the point that you’re trying to prove by visualizing data in the first place.
Let’s say that you’ve determined the major theme of your Infographic is “look at all of the data that proves that my product or service has helped people save money.” You would take all of the stats that you collected from market research and interactions with real customers and visualize it all along the spine.
“But,” you say to yourself. “I also want people to know how hard we worked on developing this product or service in the first place. I want them to see all the money we spend and the mistakes we made. I have great stats to prove it, too.”
If the major theme or “spine” of your Infographic is “look at all the ways that we’ve helped you save money,” then “look at all the money we spent to help you save money” falls too far outside the boundaries of that to work in this context.
That may make an entirely separate (and great) Infographic on its own, but it’s not the story that you’re trying to tell to this audience at this time.
If you stray too far outside the spine of your Infographics story, people are going to get lost. The point that you’re trying to make – the one you’re trying to underline by visualizing stats and other data – is going to get lost in a lot of white noise that, while interesting, just isn’t relevant to what you’re trying to do.
Your entire Infographic is going to suffer because of it, all due to the fact that you lost track of what really matters.
Strengthen That Spine
Think of the spine of your Infographic’s story as a Venn Diagram. This particular diagram has two circles: one labeled “visualized data” and one that represents the major theme you’re trying to prove or the idea you’re trying to leave someone with.
Data is great, but meaningless data is exactly that. Therefore, you need to be focused on the target on the diagram where those two circles overlap. The point in the diagram where the data you have supports and complements the point you’re trying to make. Anything outside of the boundaries of that target has to go.