Warby Parker: A Year In Pictures

Last post, we looked at Facebook’s investment in culturally-geared visual communication: a “secret” internal department charged with creating visually powerful cultural propaganda pieces. But will we see visual communication reach beyond internal messaging into the dry and conservative world of public-facing corporate communication?

Via a good friend of mine in the advertising industry, I came across this shining example of where we can only hope that we are headed:

Visually Stimulating Annual Report

Warby Parker 2013 Annual Report

This is Warby Parker’s 2013 Annual Report which takes corporate storytelling to new heights. Instead of the usual packet of mind-numbingly dense pages of text and numbers, Warby Parker chose to release a more human and relatable look back at 2013. The interactive calendar format contains anecdotal stories of corporate events, company milestones, fun cultural facts illustrated with informational design and, most importantly, lots and lots of  imagery.

This unique piece invites the public inside, giving us an intimate view of Warby Parker and its doings uncommon in the corporate world. Perhaps it’s an extension of the trend towards open and interactive communication that social media has fostered. Or perhaps it’s the continuation of the infographic trend: incorporating informational design into interest-peaking marketing pieces. Perhaps a little of both. Either way, we can hope to see more of these visually interesting and intimate pieces from the traditionally closed ranks of large companies. We’re all for it!

Head over to SlideRabbit.com to learn more about our informational design services. 


Facebook’s Analog Research Lab Embraces Visual Communication

High on our wish list is increased use of visual communication in the corporate sphere, both in internal and external messaging. We’ve previously discussed the engagement, persuasion and information retention benefits of visual communication, but even some of the more tech forward companies are woefully behind in harnessing the power of visual communication.

Just roll on over to Google’s Our Culture page to see what we mean. Sure, there are some photos of Googlers at work or in their home cities, OK. So we see you are global and there are real humans in your offices, just like any other international company. But what makes you tick? What is your collective passion? Who ARE you, Google?

Taking a different, more exciting approach is our other internet overlord, Facebook. Facebook quietly houses an old-school propaganda department that designs and produces culture-focused posters, banners and pamphlets. The pieces produced by the Analog Research Lab are geared toward employees and communicate the Facebook culture and vision with lots of imagery and very few words. We recently got our hands on an internal piece produced by the lab.

Here are some images from the booklet:

Of course, we’re comparing internal to external messaging here, but based on recent Google leaks, it seems that their internal communication is also falling short in the visual arena.

Whether the idea of internal propaganda gives you the heebie-jeebies or not, Facebook’s use of visual communication is inspiring. We hope more companies follow suit in both their internal communications and their external positioning.

Check out our Corporate Communications page for some suggestions on incorporating visuals into your corporate messaging. 

3 Tips for Keeping the Bill Down


Now that 2014 has dawned, many of us have recommitted to the standard annual resolutions. Perhaps, like so many others, one of your resolutions is to save money in 2014. Design budgets may feel like an indulgence, but don’t cut them out completely. Good informational design makes the presented data and arguments easier to understand and retain, so instead of foregoing it, make a few small changes to make your design dollars work harder.

(If you get Bigger Law Firm Magazine, you saw our recent litigation-specific article, 5 Tips for Successful, Budget-Friendly Trial Demonstratives. If you don’t, click here for a free download of their December Super Issue to check it out!) 

1. Finalize Content

It is a common misconception that edits are largely quick fixes and speedy adjustments; the lion share of unnecessary hours in a typical project is generated by edits. When a design team begins to develop content layout, we first look at everything that needs to be on the slide. A timeline, for example, might be designed one way when it has 3 event markers and quite another when it has 10. By handing the design team only partially final content, you’re essentially asking them to design twice; once for the draft data and then again for the edits, which in some cases necessitate a complete re-concepting of the slide. Though looking at a mock up of draft data can be helpful to your process, if you’re looking to cut out some of the expense, waiting until your content is final is a great place to start.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Illustrations

Another common hour-packed request is an illustration of an abstract idea or metaphorical theme (we’ve discussed this before). While it’s tempting to supply your audience with a clever illustration of a traffic jam to represent clogged bandwidth or a cartoon sleuth to mark a clue-gathering activity, illustrations like these are often time consuming for the design team. Instead, consider using a high quality photo or some simple iconography to illustrate your point.

3. Collect Source Files

Content for one presentation can come from a variety of sources. When gathering content, make sure those in charge are supplying source files for items within their content blocks. For instance, when incorporating preexisting graphs or diagrams into a presentation, the source files (an Excel with the data, an Illustrator file with original art work, etc.), can save hours of work for your design team. Without these underlying files, your team will need to first remake the item in an editable format. Don’t pay to recreate the wheel.

As the new year gets underway, many of us recommit to using our money wisely. Great design doesn’t have to break the bank – help your design team come in under budget by making just a few small changes to your work flow; finalize your content, avoid unnecessary illustrations and supply the team with source files to the content within the deck. Remember, you’re paying a design team to help make your ideas and arguments more understandable, so whittle away the “extras” and let your team focus on great informational design of your core data and arguments.

Contact us to be pleasantly surprised by how much design bang you can get for your buck. 

The Best of 2013

As our first full year in business comes to a close, we’re looking back and celebrating the victories, learning from the challenges and gearing up to do it even better in 2014. Since these last few weeks are a great time for reflection, here’s a look back at our most popular posts from 2013. See you all in 2014!!

Bullets Are Killing Your Presentation

One of the cardinal sins of presenting is also one of the most (mis)used presentation strategies. Say it with me now, “Bullet Note Script.”

We’ve all suffered through one of these – the presenter has somehow confused the purpose of his slides and that of his notecards, and suddenly we are forced to read the exact words coming out of his mouth. This sensory stereo effect causes glossy eyes and wandering thoughts.

But why? Shouldn’t giving the audience the same information in as many ways as possible maximize their retention?  <Read More>

The Rule Of Thirds

Rule of Thirds | Slide Compostion
Great presentation design is a balance between art and science. Too often, in the rush to fill the screen with facts and figures, we forget to view the slide for what it is, a blank canvas.

Since the time of the Renaissance, artists have experimented with ways to make their works more visually striking. Fundamental compositional design is just as important as the information that fills the screen. Taking composition into consideration produces more sophisticated, fresh slides…. <Read More>

Infographic: Visual Communication


Happy New Year!

Simplify Your Presentation

VisualSugar, Presentation Design Services, Custom Slides, PowerPoint
When is the topic of simplification more salient than during this season, as we all scramble around to get organized for the holidays and dawning of a new year? With  the constant conflicting demands of stressful professional lives and hectic personal obligations, it can be easy to forget to step back, breathe in and simplify.

Simplification not only soothes our souls, but also our minds. Our brains are drawn to information presented in a simple and straightforward way: Simple information rises above the noise. Organizing information primes it for easy consumption, but the further step of simplification can make information even easier to recall. When presenting make sure to use understandable and simple communication. When presenting data, refine and reduce the information on the slide.

Simplifying Language

The key to an understandable presentation is understandable language. When writing a script, be sure that the writing reflects normal speaking styles. Use small words, direct sentences and the active voice. Even when presenting to an educated or specialized audience, using large words, jargon or complex sentences decreases the rate of comprehension. The audience may still be processing the last point as new information is presented.

When sending out a presentation that the audience will read on their own, remember that most Americans read at a 7th or 8th grade level. (source)  Microsoft Word has a built in readability tool, based on Flesch-Kincaid readability tests, that grades copy as it’s written. Shoot for reading ease of 70% or higher.

Simplifying Data

It is always tempting to include the “full picture” when displaying data. Complex concepts often mean charts with two vertical axes, annotations or multiple data sets. Put a data display visual to the test by asking, What is the ONE point of this slide? If the answer has an “and” or “unless” in it, your data is too complicated and should be broken onto two slides (or built in with animation). And of course, always make sure to use the best format for your data.

In our busy world of constant information exchange, a simplified presentation is a breath of fresh air. Rise above the din by, simplifying your language and data. Always live by the “One point per slide” rule and extend it to your sentences. Straightforward information in bite size chunks has the best chance of being heard, understood and remembered.

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau

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