February 24, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

Infographics Are Awesome

by Kent Evans

Pretty much all you have to do to get a marketing person’s attention is call something an “infographic.” It brings the marketers running like Pavlov’s dinner bell. I admit to being a sucker for them, and in our energy management space, we suffer no shortage of creative people trying to visually demonstrate something related to energy benchmarking, greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency projects.  Since the first cave drawings were etched by our forefathers, mankind has searched for increasingly compelling ways to share information in a visual context. Infographics are the latest evolutionary step. 

Renewable Energy Infographic

Impersonating an infographic.

I wanted to share a few that I found to be interesting. But first, let’s address a disturbing trend within the infographic underground. It’s associated with charts and tables masquerading as infographics when, in reality, they’re nothing more than infographic imposters. I see more and more of these, and they’re no more infographics than my car is a hybrid just because it happens to be green. Take this one for example – The Power of the Smart Grid. It’s not really an info…GRAPHIC! It’s just, um, an “info.” It’s a colored chart for Pete’s sake. Come on! Where’s my globe or pie chart or statistic shaped in the form of a hamburger? I think this imposter is just an accountant’s attempt at marketing (which, in fairness, would be as bad as this marketing guy’s attempt at accounting). A visual let down.  

Energy Use And Sources Infographic

Making and using energy.

Now, on the other hand, this one is really slick – America’s Energy, Where It’s From and How It’s Used. I particularly like this one because it contains the 2nd-most impressive thing to marketing types – stuff to click on! Some things that are branded as “interactive” only allow you to change random things and see the same data different ways. The interactivity here is actually educational and, in some ways, quite informative. Who knew that some 56% of our produced energy is wasted? For a deeper appreciation for the visual quality of this infographic – see it’s original form

One of the most prolific creators and distributors of infographics is the socially minded media company, GOOD Worldwide. A handful of energy-related ones you’ll find on their site:   

Or, for some more random ones, check out:   

We marketers love it when folks devise creative ways to display statistics or trends. It proves we’re progressing as a communicative society.   

Just don’t try to slip a souped-up table past us. You hear that, bean counters? 

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