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April 30, 2018 Shownotes:
Infographics have been used throughout history to educate, captivate and inspire action — but, how useful are they in today’s world of healthcare response marketing? We hit the streets to uncover the truth, and what we found out left us speechless.
To view the infographics used in this podcast, click the links below.
The 19: Healthcare – Episode 7
Healthcare Infographics: The Whole Picture
This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing Insights in Healthcare from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
When we think about Florence Nightingale, we typically envision a humble nurse at a soldier’s bedside, selflessly tending to their wounds by candlelight. The Lady with the Lamp is an iconic image and it really created a model that nurses would aspire to for decades to come. However, one thing that tends to get overlooked in Florence Nightingale’s lengthy list of accomplishments and accolades is that she was a true pioneer in the world of healthcare infographics. I mean, she practically invented them! Allow me to set the stage. It’s 1856, the Crimean War is coming to an end, and hospitals are overflowing with wounded soldiers. As a nurse, Florence is constantly confronted with the pain and suffering of war – she sees scores of gravely injured people on a daily basis and, over time, she starts to notice a pattern – these men aren’t just dying from wounds inflicted on the battlefield, they’re dying from disease. Now, the prevalence of illness during wartime wasn’t well understood back then, and, Florence, being the curious person she was, started to investigate this phenomenon. She counted numbers that others preferred to ignore and, when it came time to present her findings to policy makers, she was armed with an arsenal of eye-catching, black and red infographics that clearly conveyed one major point: that more Crimean War soldiers died from disease than combat. Her now-famous Rose Diagram has served as the inspiration behind countless other infographics used for similar purposes – to make change, save lives and inspire a little rebellion every now and again.
Pictures are evocative, they’re emotional, they make us feel and that makes them memorable. Florence Nightingale could have pointed out flaws in the public health system with a 50-page research paper, but she chose to use infographics instead. And there’s a reason for that. Images capture our attention at an intrinsic level. Colors, themes, and imagery inspire feelings that leave a lasting impression. They clearly communicate, and they get remembered – and that makes them an incredibly important marketing asset.
And this brings us to our own research project – a marketing expedition, if you will. To determine healthcare infographic design best practices, we decided to present a focus group with three very distinct designs. This group consisted of men and women in their early 20s and mid-60s. And we asked them all a series of questions to determine what types of infographics were the most eye-catching and the most effective in communicating a message. The results…left us a little speechless, to be honest.
Here’s what happened.
As always, these interviews have taken place in a variety of locations, in-person and via Skype, so please forgive any inconsistencies in sound quality.
Before we get into the interviews, we have to talk about the infographics in question, which we will make available in the shownotes, by the way. When developing these infographics, we wanted to make sure they checked a few boxes:
One: They needed to be healthcare related.
Two: They needed to look drastically different create a basis for comparison.
Three: They had to incorporate both copy and imagery to some degree.
We designed three distinct infographics, each covering a different topic in cardiac health.
The first infographic, called “Heart Disease a Global Epidemic” was our attempt at using scare tactics. The content can best be described as a little alarming, primarily focusing on how many deaths result from heart disease each year. We used a lot of big, bold statistics, red and grey text and some scary iconography – think, coffins – to create – what we believed would instill a sense of urgency in the viewer.
The second infographic is titled “Heart Disease in America: Men vs. Women,” and the intention here was to portray something very data-focused. At its core, this infographic is a comparison, and it’s very copy heavy. There are a few percentages and graphs, but they’re sparse, and colors are mainly used to visually convey the dichotomy between stats for men and stats for women. Oh, and there is a lot of red, white and blue here. It is Heart Disease in America, after all.
Third, we have an infographic on “Heart Disease Prevention,” which relies on iconography and short bits of copy to provide quick and easy heart health tips. We would describe this infographic as a much more positive and uplifting. It’s clean and simple, and has a cool-toned color scheme, using lots of blues throughout.
We presented the infographics one at a time, always asking the same questions – What are your first impressions of the infographic? How do you feel about the color scheme? Do you feel like it effectively communicates a message?
Right off the bat, our assumptions about “Heart Disease a Global Epidemic” proved correct. Every participant stopped in their tracks when confronted with the bold, red typeface. This infographic elicited responses like:
Interview 1: “I notice everything in red. Because it really does speak to the urgency. Then I want to find out what the descriptions are. I want to know about the deaths. Red always does that. Whenever I see red on an ad or infographic, I’m drawn to it.”
Interview 2: “I see a coffin. I see that first. As a 61-year-old viewer, it’s not good. It’s not a good feeling!”
Interview 3: “The information kind of grabs your attention right off the bat. You have the one in four deaths. Should grab the attention of men for sure.”
Interview 4: “It’s all these statistics and numbers telling you about heart problems. So yeah. Kind of scary facts to get you to take care of your heart.”
Across the two age groups, there was no doubt that this infographic instilled a sense of urgency, and a lot of this content came as a surprise to our younger participants.
Interview 3: “I’m not very familiar with any of these statistics, to tell you the truth.”
Interview 4: “I don’t want to think negatively about health, I think that’s why. I think it’s scary, especially in today’s day and age. So many things can go wrong. I guess it’s important to know about it, but you don’t really want to think about it.”
In contrast, our older participants weren’t so easily frightened by these morbid statistics. To them, stats like one in four Americans die from heart disease was old news. Being 60 plus, they were well aware of these facts and preferred other infographics that had an element of surprise.
Interview 1: “Well, you know, I kind of stay current on this type of stuff. So, I do know it’s the leading cause of death. I knew that. I knew more men die than women.”
Interview 2: “An infographic that just tells me ordinary information. I feel was a waste of everyone’s time. I look at an infographic and I imagine the artist who had to draw it and I imagine my time and I feel like it’s been a little bit of a bait and switch.”
Now, before we move on to the second infographic, Heart Disease in America: Men vs. Women, I think it’s important to establish something. When we asked our participants if they learned more from images or text, the results were split right down the middle. Interestingly, our younger interviewees considered themselves more image-based learners while our older interviewees learned more from text. Now, these results come into play when looking at this infographic because it is much more copy heavy than the other options – and this struck a negative chord with our audience.
Interview 1: As a consumer of information, I’m looking for the right balance between visual and information. I can’t stand infographics that you can’t get through because they’re so dense with type.”
Interview 2: “It’s a little bit copy heavy.”
Interview 3: “If someone handed this to me, I’d probably just look at the first bulletins and some of the percentages and then move on.”
Interview 4: “It’s also very text heavy. So, I guess it’s just dependent on where these are posted and how long the consumer is going to be reading it for. Because if it’s on the street, I don’t know if someone is going to want to stop and read all this text.”
But this infographic also had its pluses. For one, people seemed to really response to the vibrancy of the color scheme. The contrasting red, white and blue made the infographic pop and, for the majority, it was the most attention-grabbing of the three.
Interview 1: “I kind of like it, by the way, it’s not what I would expect to see on an infographic.”
Interview 2: “I really like the red, white, blue and grey. I think that it’s an arresting color scheme.”
Interview 3: “Color scheme’s good. The red and the blue. I like the contrast between the two colors.”
Interview 4: “If you’re scrolling through social or walking down the street and you see a poster that’s just like an image, I think you’re much more inclined to stop and look if it’s bright colors, as opposed to something really dull, so I think that’s important.”
In that same vein, our participants really liked the subject matter of this infographic because, as Americans, they felt like it directly pertained to them.
Interview 1: “It kind of works for me because it says this is America’s problem. It makes it specific to the United States. This has an immediacy to it because it’s in our backyard. It’s specific to this country.”
Interview 2: “It makes me feel nostalgic and a little bit patriotic.”
Interview 4: “This one isn’t as intimidating because it’s patriotic and stuff like that, so it’s kind of easing you into the scary facts of heart disease. Just because it’s kind of relative to the person to the person reading it, so they can kind of relate to the images and graphics that they’re using.”
And, one of our younger participants appreciated the infographic’s attention to diversity.
Interview 3: “It’s good to see you have the different ethnic backgrounds with the percentages. It’s good to see you’re hitting all the demographics rather than saying ‘Ahh, let’s just do all white people or all Hispanic you have a broad spectrum of what’s happening.’”
For our final infographic, “Heart Disease Prevention,” we weren’t sure what to expect. It was the most minimalistic of the bunch and used a cool-toned color scheme that totally differed from the previous two. But, again, we were shocked by the results. The infographic that made the biggest impact was the most simplistic. “Heart Disease Prevention” received an overwhelming amount of praise and was the universal favorite among our focus group. Why? Well, here’s what our group had to say:
Interview 2: “I like the blue. The teal blue color and the white. It doesn’t confuse me. It feels like a hospital room. Teal is often a color associated with hospital scrubs. The heart and the shield are obvious healthcare, hospital iconography.”
Interview 1: “I like the color because the color is very positive so this color says to me, you can do something about this. I think it’s a good color. This says it’s positive, you can do something, you can control it. You’re can determine your own destiny. I like it.”
Interview 3: “It’s modern, sleek and straight to the point…it’s like alright cool.”
Interview 4: I think because blue is a calming color. It’s a serious topic but it’s a good color to pair with a serious topic, because it’s not shouting at you. So, I think that was good using the blue. The way that it’s laid out with the headers makes it very easy to see the flow of the infographic, I would say.”
Clean, simple, well-balanced, inviting colors, easy to understand icons – people were immediately drawn to this infographic. It captured attention with a modern aesthetic, it communicated a message effectively with clever icons and minimal text and it made people feel uplifted and in-control of their health and wellness.
So, are infographics worth their salt in the world of healthcare response marketing? Here’s what our participants had to say.
Interview 4: “I think that it’s a good way to put both text and images together. If it’s done right you’re not overwhelming the reader. And they’re not getting bored by just reading text or confused by just looking at images. So, I think that’s a good way to get a point across.
Interview 3: “It’s like looking at a chapter review and not having to read the whole chapter. It’s like holy crap, I just spent all this time reading the whole chapter when I could have just looked at a little info ad and it would have given me all the information I needed right off the bat.”
Interview 1: “Healthcare is a subject where you could do the whole thing in a graph. It’s all about information, facts and statistics. That’s really helpful. I think people have a hard time retaining statistics. And so infographics make it easier to do that.”
Interview 2: “I don’t have a lot of time to absorb a lot of information in a day. My bandwidth is really limited because I absorb a lot of information everyday so the extent that I can just glance at a thing and know what it’s about and not have to think too hard about it – I appreciate that.”
With every episode of The 19, we have The Sum-Up, or a snapshot of everything you should takeaway from today’s episode.
Nothing is more important than a person’s health and wellbeing, yet, healthcare is notorious for being complex and difficult for the average person to understand. As we heard in our interviews today, infographics have the ability to communicate complex topics with ease – they capture attention and spark people’s interest, which makes them an excellent resource for healthcare response marketing.
When developing infographics, healthcare response marketers should also understand that different statistics will resonate more with different age groups, and this makes sense. People over 60 already know the risk factors and the scary statistics, however, our younger interviewees seemed much more surprised by these urgent facts, because, when you’re young, you don’t always have healthcare top of mind. And you can’t just market any topic – as with any form of response marketing, there has to be an angle and a story to tell. Our participants agreed that only certain kinds of statistics belonged on an infographic – they expected to be surprised and to learn something new.
Now, we’ve established that infographics can educate, they can capture attention, but, more than that, infographics have the power to evoke emotion. Color, design and imagery all had a significant impact on our viewers, eliciting different emotional responses. So, as a healthcare response marketer, this begs the question, what types of emotions are most likely to get remembered?
After some time had passed, we asked our interviewees which infographic they remembered most. We had our expectations – I mean, how could you forget bright red lettering and coffins? But, we were wrong. The majority of people remembered “Heart Disease Prevention” – our participants recalled the infographic’s healthy mix of text and imagery. It had an easy to follow message and simple takeaways. But more than the design, our participants remembered the feeling the infographic gave them – one of agency and empowerment. People remembered the tips they needed to improve their help and, this goes to show you, when it comes to healthcare, a positive outlook will win over fear-based tactics every time.
Thank you for listening to The 19: Healthcare Infographics: The Whole Picture
If you have additional thoughts on this topic, please share them with us. Visit our website, orangelabeladvertising.com and contact us. Be sure subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and, if you like what you heard today, leave us a review! And be sure to tune in for our next episode of The 19: Healthcare, which will cover the dos and don’ts of healthcare infographics.
This was The 19. Brought to you by Orange Label. If you’re interested in MORE healthcare response marketing, visit our blog and subscribe to our content, where we share our response marketing expertise on current healthcare industry topics. Visit orangelabeladvertising.com for all the details.
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