I offered them the following two steps to resolve their challenge, which you can apply when faced with developing a new graphic concept.
Determine your ultimate goal for showing an “XYZ” process. (Uncovering your graphic's goal is essential when creating any type of graphic—process, organization, overview, quantitative, etc.). For example, is your goal to simply communicate the steps in the process or is it to show how your “XYZ” process is the superior solution? I call this step determining the primary objective. In my experience, most proposal graphics—more than 80%—fail because the author of the graphic has not determined the correct primary objective.
Recently, I supported an IT bid. My client (we’ll call them ABC Company) needed to show that their solution achieved their potential client’s goals, which we later determined were lower cost, increased network speed, and greater uptime. Unfortunately, the engineer tasked had not formalized his primary objective. His approach was to develop a network diagram. Below is an example of a generic network diagram similar to the graphic used. (The graphics in this article contain none of the original information, but the concept is similar enough for this explanation.)
The engineer was very familiar with the current network used by his potential client. He noted, “By restructuring their network, they would lower costs, reduce risk of down time, and increase overall speed.”
He was on the right track but knew it was unlikely that their potential client would link his graphic with their specific goals. Upon further discussion, we determined that ABC Company was offering to do more than a restructuring of their potential client’s network architecture to achieve these goals. Uncovering the primary objective usually results in a completely different graphic. Let’s take a look at an example of the resulting superior graphic approach. (Here’s a secret: Your primary objective is most likely your caption. For example, the following would be this graphic’s caption: Our three-step XYZ process ensures lower cost, increased network speed, and greater uptime.)
When faced with developing a graphic with specific content, your next step is to find examples of graphics that show the same concept. There are several resources I recommend for graphic ideas:
- Google Images —Type in your concept to see how others have used visuals for similar concepts. A great source to find ideas for how to develop your graphic.
- iStockPhoto—Type in a concept and you'll be given images that relate to your concept. You can download and purchase these images for immediate use.
- Visual Literacy Periodic Table—A great place to look for graphic ideas.
Also, through Billion Dollar Graphics you can use the following resources for graphic ideas:
- BizGraphics On Demand—Type in a concept and see how many ways you can show your idea. (You can also purchase these PowerPoint graphics to use as a starting point for your graphic.)
- Business Graphics Library—Search through our graphic samples for inspiration.