Can you explain that?

Can you explain that?


How visual storytelling makes tech beautiful

A Technology Explainer Visualization uses the science of beauty to tell the truth of your tech

Beauty doesn’t always ensure truth, but it helps. When we find something aesthetically pleasing, we assign value to it. We’re more inclined to believe something is true when its story is told beautifully, whether it’s an advertising claim or an explanation of technology.    

A Technology Explainer Visualization is an illustration of your tech, designed to highlight its benefits and connect with your prospects on a human, emotional level.

Here’s how you can tell the story of your tech beautifully and effectively:

1. Assess your needs

Tech Explainer Visualizations illustrate your technology from the perspective of customer benefits. They’re used as sales and marketing tools, not technical drawings or blueprints.

A Tech Explainer Visualization is a powerful tool and significant investment, so it’s important to first determine how one can help you. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might need a Tech Explainer:

  • Time: Does it take more than 15 minutes to explain your tech and its benefits? 
  • Bottleneck: Is your CTO the only one who can explain your tech thoroughly enough to close a deal?
  • Pain: Can you identify specific customer pain points your technology solves? Don’t worry about how you’ll illustrate that pain (we’ll get there). But if you can’t identify customer pain points, you can’t create a Tech Explainer
  • Challenge: Can you identify a particular sales and marketing challenge your Tech Explainer will address? Do you need it to increase your close rate? Speed your sales cycle? Generate leads? Upsell existing customers?

When you can see the potential payoff, you can justify the investment of time, money and brain cells. 

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
—John Keats

2. Think it through

Think of your Tech Explainer like a subway map. A subway map isn’t much of a map. It’s not accurately drawn, and there’s no distance or elevation. It looks like the work of a graphic designer, not a subway expert. All it shows is the order of stations and which train will take you to your destination — as it turns out, the things subway riders care about.

Before you start to visualize your Tech Explainer, consider the following:

  • Go big: Make the biggest, boldest claim you can without hyperbole. Articulate in the simplest terms how your tech is demonstrably better. 
  • Strip down: In technical drawings, accuracy and detail matter most. In your Tech Explainer, customer benefits matter most. So strip out everything that doesn’t address customer pain points.
  • Accentuate: Play up what makes your tech different. Downplay the features you have in common with competitors. 
  • Quantify: Back up your marketing claims with data. Keep it high-level and focused on benefits. Does your tech deliver 54% fewer errors? 100% satisfaction? 5% faster production? 

Write down each step of the process, feature, benefit and customer pain point on sticky notes. Use different colors for each category. Move them around on a whiteboard until they feel ordered, removing the less important ones.

To get to beauty, you’ve got to first roll through Ugly Town.

The beautiful result.

3. Visualize it

Now that you’ve outlined the content of your Technology Explainer Illustration, it’s time to start visualizing. Whether or not you see yourself as a visual thinker, this valuable exercise will set the creative team up for success. 

What’s the story? Think of your Tech Explainer as visual storytelling. Stories establish emotional connections with the viewer and make complex technology easier to digest. Potential customers empathize with your position and are more likely to buy what you’re selling (literally and figuratively).

Consider how customer pains and your solutions weave into a narrative. Think of your customer as the hero and your tech as their secret weapon.

Visual metaphors draw an association between familiar images and your complex, unfamiliar tech. Is your tech solution like a tree or an ecosystem? A satellite or a solar system? A journey or a destination? A building or a city?

Think about ways to visualize your customers’ pain points. Is their head on fire, and you have the extinguisher? Are they losing sleep, and you have a soft pillow?

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to bring your creative team to the table. They can take the work you’ve done so far and run with it. 

Talk about how your Technology Explainer Visualization can fit within your existing brand identity. Avoid the urge to create something entirely new, stylistically. The more your Tech Explainer aligns with the rest of your outreach materials, the more effective it will be.

What Prieto lovingly calls their placemat, this Tech Explainer Visualization has helped the company raise $9.5 million to date.

Tech Explainers are powerful stuff. Itching to see more? Check out some of our faves.

About Tom Campbell:

Tom is Toolbox’s co-founder and creative director. When he’s not musing about beautiful tech, Tom can be found daydreaming about when he can return to his beer league hockey team or playing drums for local bar bands. He’s also a founder and fairy godfather of Art Lab Fort Collins and keeper of, a quirky repository of stories and stats on Liberty Bell replicas around the world.

About Toolbox Creative:

Toolbox Creative is a creative agency for technology companies, helping innovators assess their brand equity, clarify their positioning and amplify their voices — creating lasting impact and building brand love.