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All articles > > Storytelling and design: how to visualize ideas

Telling a story and knowing how to put it into images - these are two ingredients that mingle perfectly together. They are also the two aspects that help you create an outstanding presentation, establish the right objectives of your project, or have a clearer overview of your ideas.


What is storytelling?

“Oh, stories, how entertaining!”, this is what most people might think when it comes to storytelling. And if you think of fiction books, yes, they are right. But storytelling should be seen more like a communication tool rather than an entertainment method.

Others take it even further and say that storytelling is an art, as it requires not only creativity but also vision and some soft skills, such as empathy. It takes time and practice to reach the best result, but it’s worth it, especially if you want to have a successful marketing campaign that makes your brand stand out.

Why use stories after all? Aren’t they for kids only?

You probably relate “stories” to your childhood period. Getting ready for bedtime, with one of your parents or grandparents ready to read you a story and take you to the fantasy world, with princes and princesses, kings and queens, fairies and dragons.

But if you come back to the present time and take it further, you’ll realise you can use stories to do a variety of actions: to sell a product, to attract the attention of your audience while presenting something, to bond new friendships and so on.

Stories can help brands simplify a very complex message and add weight to an abstract concept. If you have a powerful, yet too complicated concept, most likely your audience won’t understand it. Connect the concept with a real-life event and you’ll see how everything changes for the better.

Stories help you share empathy, they inspire and motivate people. They make people believe they’re part of a community, as they share the same experience. This is why brands should design their marketing campaigns around real stories.

How to visualize ideas

The best way to visualize ideas is to combine storytelling and design. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a senior graphic designer or to excel in drawing to do this. Use visualization to combine abstract information with strategy, data, and process. The result will be a visual form of your ideas, a graphic.

The first thing to do is to put your laptop away. Do it old school. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (a whiteboard could work too). It’s time to start sketching! Write down ideas and use lines to connect them. It’s beginning to look like a mind map, isn’t it?

What is a mind map?

The British psychologist Tony Buzan invented the concept of mind mapping back in the 1960s.

Pick a subject and write it in a speech bubble in the centre of the page. Then add more and more things related to this and connect them with lines. Try working in a clockwise direction to be easier for you to keep track of everything. Remember to keep the text as succinct as possible. After all, these are only ideas, not the entire project.

The good thing about mind maps is that you can always come with a better version of it. And when you do, keep the old versions close as well. Don’t throw them away, even though they have “too many scribblings” or seem “wrong”. You never know when you’ll need them for further inspiration.

What makes a good visualization?

If you want to share your ideas with others, the method that you first think of is to create a PowerPoint presentation. And while there’s nothing wrong about it, we all know how boring these presentations can be sometimes. This is why you should consider taking it to another level and coming up with a top-notch presentation. Here are some elements you should include:

  • Text: but keep it short. Don’t include five-line long paragraphs into your presentation. Use familiar words and try to keep the text structured and organized.
  • Graphic elements: even the simplest ones work. For instance, you can use them whenever you need to connect two ideas. A bubble speech, an arrow, or a digital sticky note can be some great examples.
  • Symbols and icons: if you want to make your visualization more vivid, make sure you include some icons (such as a cup of coffee, a letter, or a shopping cart). “The simpler, the better” rule also applies here.
  • Figures: people are at the basis of design thinking, that’s a fact. So, why not add some human-like figures in your presentation to express various emotions? However, include them only if it’s necessary.
  • Colors: it’s recommended you establish a color palette from the very beginning. Adding too many colours can be confusing, so stick only to a few ones. You can use different colors to highlight an important idea, underline a certain word, or add a border.

Key steps in the process of storytelling design

There’s no such thing as an ultimate, set-in-stone template for the storytelling process to guarantee your success if you use it. You need to adapt it to every project you work on and every campaign you have. However, there are some steps that you should consider:

1. Know your audience: if each project comes with a different target audience, make sure it is clearly established. And even if you use the same audience for different projects, you should still consider approaching it differently with every campaign.

2. Establish the core message: define it before moving any further. Find a way to explain it to your audience, but keep it short, ten words max. Otherwise, you can’t consider it a “core message”.

3. Establish the direction of your story: depending on your project and the objective, you can tell a story in a variety of ways. Think of one that would best suit your cause.

4. Decide upon your CTA: every campaign should have a call-to-action. What’s yours?

5. Create the story: it’s only here that you actually start writing your story. Just make sure you adapt it according to the medium you want to share your story on (eg. books, television, audio story, digital, etc.). Make it as engaging as possible.

To conclude, storytelling design can help you have a clearer overview of your project and organize your ideas better. And speaking of better organizing things, it would be extremely helpful if you had an app that keeps everything organized on your computer, right?

OneDock is the desktop app you need in this case. It brings your favorite apps in one place: communication apps, email, to-do lists, you name it! Just create a new account or use one of your social accounts to log in and see it for yourself.