Business Charts Often Fail to Communicate Intended Message, Says Siegel+Gale's Dona Wong, Author of Newly Published The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics

Do your information graphics pass the 5-second clarity test?

Jan 27, 2010, 08:00 ET from Siegel+Gale

NEW YORK, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Many business charts have sophisticated and intelligent underlying information, but the presentation fails to convey the intended message.  That's the underlying premise of a new book, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics, authored by Dona M. Wong, strategy director of information design for global strategic branding firm and simplified communications pioneer Siegel+Gale.

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"In our increasingly data-driven world, we have to convey our message clearly and visually. Whether through PowerPoint, charts and graphs, reporting graphics, or budget illustrations, we must enhance our audiences' understanding – in five seconds or less," says Wong.  "Professionals from marketing to finance to medicine need to understand how to analyze the data, use colors to their advantage and choose the right chart form."

Wong is the strategy director for information design at Siegel+Gale, the renowned branding firm whose signature mission for the past 40 years has been promoting clarity through simplification in all aspects of business communication.  Now, she shares the insights from her twenty-year career – including eight years as graphics director at The Wall Street Journal – in The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010, $29.95).

Wong was also graphics editor for The New York Times business sections, and earlier, developed financial graphics for international tax clients at Deloitte & Touche. At Yale, she studied information design with renowned professor and author Edward Tufte.

"Presentation software makes it possible to create charts easily, but not necessarily well," says Alan Siegel, founder and chairman of Siegel+Gale and a pioneer of the plain language movement. "Executives who value clarity, simplicity, and transparency in the language of their customer communications can also use the best principles of information graphics to their strategic advantage."

The best charting practice is to follow four essential steps: research, edit, plot and review. "Always assess data with a critical eye," says Wong. "If there is something wrong with one number, it is important to get to the bottom of it. DO sweat the small stuff. One wrong data point can destroy the credibility of the whole chart."  

In this book, Wong shows how to:

  • Choose the right chart form to convey our intended message;
  • Use colors to our advantage;
  • Communicate with decision makers when we have five minutes of their time.

About Siegel+Gale

Siegel+Gale (www.siegelgale.com) is one of the world's premier strategic branding companies and a pioneer in simplifying complex customer communications. Since it was founded by Alan Siegel in 1969, the firm has applied the art and science of simplicity to create branding programs that have helped many of the world's best-known organizations excel. Driven by its philosophy of "Simple is Smart," Siegel+Gale has led the way in bringing innovation to the corporate branding field, including transforming complex, incomprehensible customer communications into plain English; helping clients create distinctive brand voices across all their communications; transporting brands onto the Internet; and aligning the brand experience with the brand promise.

The firm's clients include AARP, Aetna, American Express, Bank of America, Dell, The Four Seasons Hotel Group, The Internal Revenue Service, Lexus, Merrill Lynch, 3M, Microsoft, Motorola, the National Basketball Association, Pfizer, and Sony PlayStation. Siegel+Gale has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Dubai, and strategic partnerships around the world.

Siegel+Gale is part of the Omnicom Group Inc. (www.omnicomgroup.com), a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and numerous specialty firms serve over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

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