What is a Venn Diagram + Examples of How Businesses Use Them

By Lydia Hooper, Aug 30, 2021

venn diagram

Perhaps there is no more ubiquitous, quintessential and delightful diagram than the Venn diagram. You may have even noticed how they have the tendency to crop up in social media feeds, online forums and whiteboard discussions.

It’s no secret how much we love them at Venngage—they inspired our company name after all!

It’s high time we showed you just how awesome Venn diagrams can be, and how you can easily create one of your very own to help you with whatever conceptual or communication challenge you may be facing today, using Venngage’s Venn Diagram Maker.


 

Table of contents:

 

What is a Venn diagram?

The Venn diagram has become one of the most well-known diagrams. A Venn diagram looks like a series of simple circles or ellipses that overlap.

venn diagram


 

As you can see, the parts of the shapes that overlap indicate similarities, and the parts that do not indicate differences.

The Venn diagram was invented to describe mathematically logical relationships, but it’s now being used to show relationships of all kinds.

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What Venn diagrams can be used for

Venn diagrams are excellent for drawing comparisons. They allow you to instantly communicate differences and similarities.

This diagram, for example, draws attention to an important intersection:

venn diagram


 

You can customize this Venn diagram template to compare two products, highlight the similarities and differences between two services, or show how a solution combines two ideas.

This example compares different options by detailing the strengths of each:

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You can customize this Venn diagram template to describe service combinations or overlapping ideas.

Venn diagrams are incredibly flexible, right? You can use them to show patterns of many kinds.

This visual uses a Venn diagram to describe a complex topic in a clarifying and engaging way:

venn diagram


 

You can customize this Venn diagram template to create a visual that explains your company’s customers, competitors, or culture, for example.

Keep reading for more examples of what other businesses have created.

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Examples of how businesses use Venn diagrams

Venn diagrams are so popular, businesses are using them for everything from internal whiteboard sessions to customer-facing ads to inspiration for new products.

Here are the most common scenarios in which businesses use Venn diagrams.

Comparing different solutions

One of the most likely use cases for a Venn diagram is comparing different products, services, or solutions.

Here’s an example comparing two different products by listing the things customers are interested in that would lead them to select one instead of the other:

venn diagram

Source: Tech Digest

Here’s another Venn diagram comparing two different services and what they both offer:

venn diagram

Source: diff.wiki

This diagram describes two offerings and the relationships between them:

This Venn details three complementary options. Again, each can stand alone, or they can be combined:

Highlighting combinations and overlaps

Indeed, Venn diagrams are great if you want to draw attention to combinations or overlaps.

This simple one shows how classrooms today are using a combination of different types of instruction:

This Venn diagram really emphasizes how critical events are when risk events impact people and other assets:

venn diagram

Source: CIPHR

This innovative, non-hierarchical spin on an organizational chart is meant to describe how roles can bridge different teams and departments:

venn diagram

Source: Metal Toad

Describing markets

Some of the examples above demonstrate how useful Venn diagrams can be for helping people better understand complex topics and ideas.

One such topic is markets. This Venn diagram outlines market segments or niches:

Here’s another that shows the relationship between various competitors based on their offerings:

Explaining concepts

Some ideas are so abstract you need a diagram to help colleagues or clients get the big idea.

You can use a Venn diagram, for example, to explain corporate culture…

… sources of competitive advantage…

venn diagram

Source: Transmission

… or how to unlock innovation.

venn diagram

Source: UX Studio

Advertising brands and products

Many of the examples shown thus far have been for informing conversations that happen inside companies, but because Venn diagrams are so popular, they are also being used for customer-facing visuals and even products.

Venn diagrams have inspired the evolution of Mastercard’s logo:

venn diagram

Source: Mashable. Credit: Pentagram / Mastercard

They were also used in a McDonald’s advertising campaign several years ago:

venn diagram

Source: TRENDHUNTER

But this inspiration takes the cake: It’s expected that later this year Nike will release a new sneaker inspired by and even named after the Venn Diagram:

venn diagram

Source: Sneaker News

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How to create a Venn diagram

Now that you’ve gotten lots of inspiration, it’s time to make your own Venn diagram!

Here are some simple steps to help you get from pen to Venn.

1. Try different concepts to see what works best

I highly recommend starting with pen and paper so you can start to map out the relationships you might want to show—it’s easy to draw rough-looking ovals after all. This will allow you to better play around with ideas before you start working with software to create more polished designs.

You may even get inspired to think outside of the box. You might decide there’s a fair amount to explain, and that a Venn diagram is certainly more attractive than a boring text document.

venn diagram


 

You might even mix it up by using squares or diamonds if that works well for the topic.

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2. Choose a template

You can start with one of the templates featured in this article or our Venn Diagram Maker. Pick a venn diagram template that fits what you outlined, and use Venngage to edit elements like icons, logos, etc.

venn diagram

We offer over 40,000 icons and illustrations, 2,000 of which are diverse icons. If you want to change an icon in a template, simply double click the icon and choose the one you want to change it to:

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3. Add straightforward labels

When it comes time to add text, think “keep it simple.” Use language appropriate for your audience and try to integrate the text and the visual, rather than having one crowd out the other.

If you want to use a fair amount of text, be sure to use a format that still helps people be able to best understand the comparisons you are trying to make.

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4. Be mindful of the size of the shapes

Labels aren’t the only thing that will be communicating your ideas to people. The size of your shapes can also tell them what’s most important, most significant, or of greatest magnitude.

For example, in this Venn diagram, the website portion stands out as foundational:

venn diagram


 

Use the size of shapes to help your audience know what matters most.

5. Select colors to help people read it easily

You can also use color to help draw attention to certain elements or themes. If you are creating a particularly complex Venn diagram, use color in ways that help your audience easily see differences and draw comparisons.

venn diagram


 

venn diagram


 

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Summary: Venn diagrams are useful, versatile, easy to create, and even fun

You may never be as big of a fan of them as we are, but once you start using them, you will see how helpful they can be, for you, your colleagues, clients and customers.

No design experience? No problem. Venngage’s Venn Diagram Maker makes it easy for you to create engaging, beautiful Venn diagrams in minutes.


 

 

About Lydia Hooper

Lydia Hooper has a decade of experience as an information designer, and has worked with and for more than 50 national, state, and local organizations. She led a team to win bronze in the national Civic Data Challenge in 2013. Her writing on data visualization and information design has also been published by Data Visualization Society, UX Collective, SAGE Publishing’s MethodSpace and Evergreen Data. Lydia has also designed and facilitated workshops for dozens of organizations including American Institute of Graphic Arts-Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Chapters of the Association for Talent Development and the Society for Technical Communication.