World Cup Fever

We recently worked with CommSec on a fun and clever infographic about the World Cup.

CommSec analysts  created an Economic World Cup whereby each nation competes based on financial terms.

While Australia finished 4th in Group B in the FIFA World Cup in this CommSec competition if matches were played on economic terms Australia would be the world champion.

Competition is based on strong economic growth, low government debt and controlled inflation.

Australia wins the CommSec Economic World Cup

From the Beginning...

Back in 2011 before Hot Butter Studio existed we began experimenting in infographic design.

But if we go back to the very beginning I think Hot Butter first started in 2008 when we were living in Washington DC. I was working full time as a litigation paralegal  and studying Digital Design part time at the Art Institute of Washington. One of my co-workers invited me to a party at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to celebrate a new magazine called Good Magazine. It  was a great party. Thiervery Corp were playing and I left with a free subscription to Good Magazine.  In their own words, Good Magazine "chronicles and champions the emerging identity of the global citizen and creative changemaker."

From a design perspective the magazine was really innovative in its layout and typography.

While my subscription lapsed and I subsequently relocated back to Melbourne I continued to keep up with Good via their website - "is a place to share creative solutions for living well and doing good."

In a former version of their website, Good had a section dedicated to infographics. I believe they were at the forefront of modern infographic design. Their infographics were always on topical issues and beautifully designed. So when they announced they were having an infographic design competition and calling for submissions I was immediately interested.

I have always been a bit anti competitions because the lines between competition and crowd sourcing can become blurry. But in this case the competition gave me an incentive to try and design an infographic.I  was using the challenge as an impetus to work on my own personal portfolio.

The competition was to create Infographics about your internet use. We looked at how we spend time on the internet both "working" and "playing". I have tracked down our submission here:

Hot Butter Studio's first ever infographic. The idea was strong but the execution wasn't there yet.

Hot Butter Studio's first ever infographic. The idea was strong but the execution wasn't there yet.

This was the second half of the infographic which looked at "playing" while the other half looked at "working" while using the internet

This was the second half of the infographic which looked at "playing" while the other half looked at "working" while using the internet

Karyn is the Work Horse at Hot Butter Studio

Designing New Business Cards

The youngest member of the Hot Butter team giving his critique of the new business cards. I think its safe to say that we really do make delicious infographics.

The youngest member of the Hot Butter team giving his critique of the new business cards. I think its safe to say that we really do make delicious infographics.

For too long we have been running a business without business cards. Well, that's not entirely true. We have been using business cards from our photography business. I was kidding myself that this was ok. My excuse was: We are a creative studio that operates in a mostly digital space and most of our clients are based overseas and discover us online anyway. But over the last few months I have had to own up to the fact that this wasn't good enough.

Recently we have being trying to market Hot Butter Studio locally and connect with Australian based business. This has been going great and we have been having a lot of face to face meetings which means we really needed business cards.

The pressure to design something that was creative and at the same time not too trendy was doing my head in. I wanted to create something classical and timeless but with character.

In the brain storming phase I tried out all different sketches but I just wasn't feeling it. Going against good design practice I decided to muck around in Illustrator even though I didn't have any solid ideas. I spent way too much time playing around and clicking my mouse hoping that creativity would spark.

I was getting frustrated and annoyed. Whenever I am stumped I always think of the scene from HBO's How to Make it in America where Ben and Cam agree to design (pro bono) graduation shirts for Nancy's son's middle school and the head of the design committee says with the most unimpressed tone that "if they weren't inspired, they shouldn't have taken the job". Sometimes I keep working and struggling when I am not feeling inspired just to say I have completed a task even when I know I am doing sub par work.

In this instance I knew that we had an upcoming trip to Sydney planned and I was under pressure to finalize the design and get the art work to the printer so that we would have cards to take to our meetings.

I eventually forced myself to step away from the project.  I even convinced myself that we didn't need cards that our presentation would be creative and cool and that cards didn't matter.

As soon as the sense of urgency had dissipated, an idea came to me.

Once I had my idea the execution didn't take too long. I worked solidly for 4 hours to get it just right and to make sure that the design could be used in a template fashion for new staff as we grow. The idea was for each card to be a mini infographic illustrating each person's job title and skills. We decided to use fun job titles to better reflect Hot Butter's personality. For e.g. my title is "Work Horse" because I end up doing a lot of the time consuming administrative related tasks.

I knew I wanted a really simple colour palette; yellow and black which are our corporate colours. I toyed with the idea of using a neon yellow but I just didn't have time to get the cards printed offset. I also did not want to spend $2000+ on a design that I wasn't sure had staying power.

Now that the rush of our Sydney trip is over, I am going to swap the current CMYK yellow for a neon PMS yellow and get them printed  with Taylor'd Press - who, btw do awesome stuff.

And here are the cards. As soon as we have a little more time we will take some professional shots. These quick snaps were taken on my iphone.


Karyn is the Work Horse at Hot Butter Studio

Nothing to Look at Here

The Rise of the Infographic as an Effective Form of Content Marketing

An effective infographic is often funny, quirky, clever and/or original

An effective infographic is often funny, quirky, clever and/or original

The words ‘Content marketing’ and ‘infographics’ get thrown around a lot of late.  For our purposes I am going to focus on infographics and their both latent and hidden strengths.

If you strip away the buzz worthiness of the word ‘infographics’, and their eye candy nature which serves to disguise a vehicle, that when created and implemented properly, is an incredibly compelling way to communicate with your demographic audience. 

An effective infographic enables you to teach your customers something, make them laugh or maybe even cause them to take action. From an advertising perspective this is invaluable.  From a branding perspective it is strengthening.  From a social media perspective, it fills numerous roles:

  •  It is content that can be promoted to your customers.
  •  It works great in conjunction with SEO
  •  It is easily shared on the most common social media platforms (twitter, facebook, google+, linkedin)
  •  And is also very shareable on related industry sites and blogs. 

Infographics have a potential reach and impact unlike almost any other method of marketing.

On the flip side, infographics are becoming an increasingly saturated visual, and as with all new media, the boundaries must be stretched and tested.  I am of the opinion that infographics as a whole are becoming less effective, due to problems in the vehicle design and not the concept itself.  In other words, most people have seen an infographic whether they knew what it was or not.  Early on this led to shares based on the 'newness' of the infographic genre, where as now most of your audience has seen an infographic, and are not as easily blinded by the pretty colours.

This led to a renaissance of sorts within infographic design and a clear distinction between ‘infographics’ and ‘data visualisation’ emerged. Thus becoming different breeds of the same animal.  Put most simply, an ‘infographic’ is a way to present an idea in an unconventional way and a ‘data visualisation’ is just that, an opportunity to clearly present and or analyse data.

Depending on which side of the fence you fall on, you will inevitably fight tooth and nail to discredit the validity of the other. The forums are ripe with the conflict, so much so that you could make an infographic about…errr... data visualization...depending on your camp.

What I have found is that within this battle between the two, infographics won, or at least have the brand recognition that even when someone actually wants a data visuliazation they ask for an infographic.

So while many people may argue that infographics are losing their impact, I could not disagree more. I think the influx and rise of infographics has caused better content creation as a necessity. They do not get by on their looks alone, creating a visually compelling narrative is paramount. Much like life, it’s good to be pretty but its what’s inside that counts.

I don’t think infographics are going anywhere, their trendiness is new, but their existence is not.  The more we as a culture are living in the white noise of commercial advertising bombardment, the more that new content marketing strategies will pop up.  As consumers we want entertainment, or education, we want something that enriches our lives and maybe something we can share with those close to us. 

As business people we need to be able to communicate and connect with our demographic. The paradigm has shifted from a place where we communicated what we wanted our customers to do, to a place where we hold our customers in higher regard and we have to work a bit harder to get them to pay attention. But if and when they do pay attention they may bring your brand home and introduce you to all their friends and family.


Brandon Rossen is the Chief Creative at Hot Butter Studio