SMX East Liveblog: Branding Your Data Visualizations with Annie Cushing

Data is powerful and empowering, sure. But raw data or too much data coming at you is just another email in the archive of the person you’ve delivered it to. Data that isn’t packaged in a way that supports someone’s understanding of it, or that doesn’t fit your brand identity is an eyesore on your website.

Annie Cushing makes data pretty and meaningful for her clients with Excel dashboards customized in their colors and fonts and will be imparting her guidelines for making your data visualizations fit your brand, making it a brand identity tool online. You may not even realize the mistakes you’re making when you use Excel to create a chart and post it up to your blog. Read on to find out the common oversights of data visualization and the solutions.

Annie Cushing explains that you want your data visualizations to match the look and feel of your brand and the rest of your website.

Speaker: Annie Cushing, SEO and Analytics, (@AnnieCushing)

Branding is all the rage. Branding is the new black because we can’t build links so we need to justify our pay check. Here Cushing shares strategies: carry over your branding into your visualizations.

Pepsi spent $1 million to re-do its logo. GAP spent $100 million, but the Internet went insane and GAP retracted the logo after 6 days. Symantec spent $1.3 billion on its logo.

Not only are companies spending a lot of money on logos, the same is true for websites.

She’s showing examples of websites and graphic visualizations that are found on the site, and she’s critiquing the pie charts and bar graphs that the companies are publishing. Some of the critiques include the use of default colors in Excel.

Annie Cushing,

Steps to Branding Your Visualizations

1. Find your branded colors. Use a color picker, like in the web developer toolbar. You can convert hexadecimal values to RGB on Google.

2. Find complementary colors. Colors on the Web is a tool that uses color theory to show you pairings or more (five colors for visualizations).

3. Create a custom color pallet. There’s a hack for Mac that you can find in this great article Cushing wrote:

4. Use custom fonts. This isn’t possible in Excel for Mac.

5. Custom themes. Themes are like burritos for Excel. This is a bit of a more advanced feature.

6. Create your own chart templates. Do you find you’re creating the same charts over?

7. Create workbook templates. She builds a lot of dashboards for clients and they always have the same tabs. Custom tables, pivot tables, text boxes all have the right “DNA.”

Presentation Tips for Data Visualizations

1. Avoid “forever data.” You don’t know where to start. It’s a sea of data, hard to decipher. Avoid “forever charts” and condense the presentation.

2. Do some data cleanup. She shows an example of taking one of the bad examples from earlier in the presentation and what she’d do to change it.

3. Spring load your visualizations. Even if you have a lot of data, find ways to make it more digestible.


Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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