Infographics design principles: 3. associations

Designing needs associations to visualize abstract notions. How can we show love? Management? Income? Outcome? For this we use associations and metaphors.

Should we use metaphors or not? And if so, which one should it be? These are the questions we pose to ourselves. It all depends on the target group of infographics, so we have to think what their competencies are.

For players in the Forex market, we will show a graph of exchange rate in the past few hours, but we won't show them metaphors. They don't need metaphors, because all they are interested in are the sheer data.

Trying to explain what Forex is to a person who has never heard of it, we would probably use signs of different currencies, images of money falling down from the sky, and on the other side, images of sad men with their empty pockets.

In what way business is presented in the Polish internet? The most popular images present gentlemen in suits and ladies in high heels. A single jumping man. If there are two men, they are shaking their hands. Ladies usually are presented from their profile to show their figure. These images are boring and they often distort reality.

What is a good metaphor for business? Let’s take for instance orchestra and army. How can you use this metaphor?


1. Managing a creative advertising agency is like managing a jazz band.
2. Managing a big company resembles managing symphony orchestra. The orchestra can play the piece it already knows, but it needs a conductor to play something new.

1. Big army – commanders set the direction of the offensive, but they are not guarding soldiers to shoot on target.
2. Small company – special forces division with his sergeant. A small division is reacting fast and is extremely effective. It is well equipped and has everything it needs.

While designing, we have to think about a good metaphor.

[Title photo by:]

[Army photo by:]