Why Your Statements Should Look More Like an Infographic
According to Infographic World “90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.”
What information does your statement transfer to your customer’s brain?
Is it, “Here is some helpful and relevant information about your account,” or does it say, ”I’m legally required to send this information to you, so here it is?”
If you view your statement as a necessary evil, then let me give you some things to consider.
According to consumer-action.org, “depending on the account category, 45-74 percent of respondents said that they choose paper over electronic notifications for insurance, utilities, medical, mortgages, credit cards and property taxes.” They go on to report, “For some older, disabled or lower-income consumers, paper documents are not just an option, they’re a necessity.”
It could be argued that the reason most people don’t look at their statement is because it’s little more than a grocery store receipt. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was easy to read and understand, and it offered helpful insight?
After almost 20 years of improving statement designs, here are four principles we use when approaching any redesign project.
1) Brand First
Stop using the default design that came with your billing software. Other than a name change, there’s nothing to distinguish your company from everyone else using that software. Your company isn’t the same as everyone else, and your statement shouldn’t be either.
Use your logo. Your logo is the single most identifiable aspect of your company. As Americans we read left to right, top to bottom. That means we start in the top, left of everything we read. Put your logo there, and it will be the first thing people see.
Use your corporate colors. If you don’t know the specific shade that is used in your logo, there are tools, such as the Pantone Color Finder, that will help you figure out your color. For example, I know our corporate blue is Pantone 2175. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) will give you the CMYK color formula for printing on paper, RGB color formula for screen graphics, and Hex/HTML colors for websites. Identify your color(s) and use them with stubborn determination.
Use your corporate fonts. I recently rebuilt a logo for a customer because they couldn’t supply us with a high-quality version to use for a printing project. As I was researching their brand to figure out which font they used, I found examples of three different fonts; two different serif fonts and a sans-serif version. Know your fonts and distribute them throughout your organization.
You can buy fonts through sources like Adobe, MyFonts.com, and fonts.com among others. Google also has a great resource for free fonts that you can use both in print and online.
2) Focus their Attention
After your customer recognizes your brand, what’s the next most important thing for them to see? Is it the amount they owe, online payment options, date due, or something else? There are different techniques you can use to draw their eye. Here are three of the most used.
Draw them with color. If your corporate color is red, then add a secondary color that compliments your red. A second color on a black & white document says, “look here!” Color will divert our left-right-top-bottom approach to the document.
Draw them with bolds, italics and underlines. Our eyes immediately spot the break in a pattern. By bolding, italicizing, or underlining a word when all the other text is plain, you tell the reader to notice this. And they will. Without these elements, it’s like listening to a professor lecture in monotone.
Draw them with white space. One of the most famous and effective ads ever created is the 1959 print ad for the Volkswagen Beetle. When everyone else was filling every square inch of magazines and newspapers with carefully staged photographs, headlines, and body copy, VW used white space to capture attention. And it worked. The small image of the Beetle in a huge field of white stood out like a beacon in the night. It screamed, “Notice me!”
3) Reformat for Easier Reading
Some things are just challenging to read. Data in tables, for example, can be difficult, especially when the columns are spread too far apart. If you need to use your finger to stay on the same line of text, then it’s too difficult to read. You can use table/row/cell borders, “leader” characters such as periods, or alternating-row shading to let the eye easily follow the flow of information. If you use alternating-row shading, use a tint of your corporate color to continue your branding.
Can you use a chart to make any of the information easier to read?
One of the most important things to remember is that you’re not an unbiased opinion. It’s your data. You see it every day, so you understand it better than anyone else. Your customers don’t have the same familiarity as you. Share your design with an unbiased person and ask them how difficult/easy it is to read and understand. Then ask 20 more people.
4) Add Marketing Messages
Do your customers know about your latest promotion? What about the companion products/services used by customers like them? The answer is almost certainly “no”. According to HubSpot, “You're 60-70% likely to sell to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling to a new prospect.”
In a 2020 infographic report, HubSpot quoted Xerox saying, “65% of brands use infographics for marketing purposes.”
Make your required customer-facing documents an extension of your marketing efforts.
Your statement is already making a statement; make sure it’s a positive one.
Branding is the perception of how an organization and/or product is regarded by the outside world.