How Storytelling Informs Design

In this saturated marketing industry, everyone is trying to do the same thing: tell a story.

Whether you’re designing a poster for a non-profit event or creating an Instagram post about your new coffee shop, everyone is sharing their story with others. The way you visually design that story can make all the difference between someone engaging with your message or completely ignoring it.

Storytelling is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the activity of telling or writing stories.” Simple enough, but how you tell that story is incredibly important, and that’s what graphic design is all about! Most importantly, storytelling informs graphic design by presenting the challenge to communicate your message through visuals rather than through written or spoken mediums.

Let’s take a walk on the “Successful Storytelling” beach, shall we? To highlight the awesome food growers in our area who are members of HeyTurlock, I created the “#SupportLocal” campaign which ran through the month of September – the peak of Farmer’s Market season. As the lead content creator at HeyTurlock, I was both writer and graphic designer for this campaign, making the planning process more streamlined.

Blog header designed by Nick Lazar for HeyTurlock

What’s the Story?

The very first thing to do when starting a new design is to establish your goal(s). How do you want people to feel? What do you want people to know? What do you want them to do? For example, the goal of the #SupportLocal campaign was to celebrate the local farmers and artisans in Turlock and promote a sense of unity in the community. No matter what I was going to design, it had to all go back to this central narrative.

Draw People In

The best way to get people interested in your story is to entice them with your visuals. People will keep scrolling through their feed if your artwork isn’t eye-catching. I chose to incorporate minimal text in the graphics, but just enough for them to stop scrolling and dig for more information. The warm color palette and enticing visuals of fruit also add intrigue to the campaign.

Authenticity is Key

People love stories that are relatable and accessible. In a world where everyone can filter and edit their appearance to perfection, more organic and imperfect images stand out. Because of this, illustration is becoming a trend in design for several brands, and I chose to apply that to the #SupportLocal campaign. Hand drawing the fruit illustrations in my sketchbook, then scanning them into my computer to manipulate gave the whole campaign a textured and authentic feel that conveyed the ‘home-grown’ feeling I wanted people to identify with.

Incorporate Your Story into Your Design

Remember that the overall goal of graphic design is to convey a message. Yes, you should make it stand out, but make sure your design has elements that tie back to your story. Since the message of this campaign was to support local food growers, I chose to hand letter the campaign title and make it the central focus of the design. The illustrations all frame the main message of the campaign, showing that supporting local industries is fun and inviting.

Pro Tip: Ask a coworker who isn’t on the project to take a look at your artwork. Unbiased feedback always gives you a good grasp on the success of your work.

Read the HeyTurlock #SupportLocal blog post here!