This is something I wrote for my LinkedIn feed, but thought you guys would probably be more interesting in it than anyone there. Two of my clients have Red Brands and they both do KPIs differently, which got me thinking of this topic. Anyway... read on if you want.
Ah, red. The colour best known for Christmas, blood and when your KPIs have gone horribly horribly wrong. It's also the primary shade in some of the world's biggest brands such as Coca-Cola, Toyota and Verizon.
Well, what do you do when you have to balance a company's branding with a functional KPI color palette? In one of the most pedantic things I've ever written, I present to you the dos and don'ts of building your red branded KPI dashboards (please don't tell my younger self this is what my life is now).
1 - DON'T use Red for bad. If you're presenting to an executive, a real company man, you don't want their brand to mean things are in the gutter. You might not care, but it will get noticed. Instead use a black or gray. Something neutral.
2 - DON'T use too much red. This is dashboard not the end of a Jack Bauer rampage. Too much red is an affront on the visuals and is almost impossible to work with.
3 - DON'T corner yourself into using colours that are relevant to the competition. It can work, but if it doesn't, throw it out.
Here is the DON'T dashboard
The numbers line up to my points above. The headings contain a lot of red, it's all branded but hard to take in. The charts on the left use red to represent the brand while the charts on the right use red to represent bad. Which could create the mental fallacy of Brand = Bad. It might sound silly, but that does happen. The bottom right bar chart uses political party colours to help readers instinctively know what is what, but it's bright and out of place to the rest of the palette.
Here is my DO dashboard, with some of the changes explained afterwards.
You'll notice right away (hopefully) that you're not blinded by red. But there is still enough to consider the dashboard branded. Replacing the bar chart with a line helps as it gives more white space. The right hand tables have a gray base and, where it's obvious, red as positive. I've not done this for the by province chart as it was not intuitive here that red was good (since there are no labels or legends).
I think my favorite change is to the % of Revenue by Year. I love color coding with party colors as it's intuitive for the user. Unfortunately I think it distracts. This version flows much better and you don't lose much in terms readability.
So. That was bland. Not many get the joys of restless nights thinking how do make an appealing red branded dashboard. But maybe, just maybe, this will inspire someone working with palettes in the future. And if not, I appreciate you sticking it out with me anyway.
Oh and if you'd like to see the full dashboard and be able to see other parties, click here