Storytelling in graphic design

Audience engagement has become a paramount objective in marketing. For this reason, marketers and graphic designers now explore numerous ways to grab and hold their audience’s attention. One of the most effective ways to do this is through storytelling. In this blog, we’ll explore how you can utilize storytelling elements in graphic design to increase customer engagement.

Importance of Storytelling in Graphic Design

Storytelling allows marketers and graphic designers to go beyond selling, as it effectively influences human cognition and emotional engagement. It creates a more immersive and memorable experience, making it seem like the audience can physically touch or leave the advertisement they see. A design can transcend purely aesthetic considerations and connect with viewers on a deeper level through storytelling, giving it meaning and purpose. 

Aside from this, storytelling makes a campaign more comprehensible and memorable by transforming complex ideas in a relatable manner. Storytelling harnesses the power of feelings, allowing designers to arouse interest, enthusiasm, or empathy in their audience. As you build an emotional connection with your audience through your design, you can expect increased engagement, loyalty, and conversions.

Enhancing Audience Engagement through Storytelling Elements

While enhancing audience engagement through storytelling is difficult, it’s not impossible. Here are some of the story elements you should use when creating marketing campaigns:

Establishing a narrative

A narrative gives the design structure, consistency, and a distinct direction. It leads the audience through an exciting and rewarding experience. Designers may create a coherent narrative that successfully conveys their intended thoughts by establishing the purpose and message of the design. 

A marketing campaign that has a narrative that draws viewers in, engrosses them, and keeps their interest. It establishes a sense of development and continuity that enables the viewer to follow along and empathize with the tale being told. Aside from this, a narrative adds depth and relevance to the visual components by establishing context and meaning. 

The following billboards are marketing campaigns for a Filipino Netflix series, “Trese”. Just like the narrative of the series, the billboards make it seem that enchanted creatures are vandalizing the metro.

Trese billboards. (Source)

Incorporating conflict and tension

Conflict creates an atmosphere of mystery, suspense, and anticipation, acting as an emotional hook to draw in the audience. Designers can use conflict to infuse their work with dynamic energy and drive viewers to explore the visual narrative more thoroughly. While tension elicits a stronger emotional response, it also draws the observer deeper into the design and conveys a sense of urgency or excitement. The combination of drama and suspense enthralls the viewer and keeps them invested in the visual story being told. Designers can produce works that arouse the viewer’s emotions, stimulate thought, and leave a lasting impression by deftly fusing various aspects.

This advertisement has a simple graphic design. However, it becomes more interesting as it creates tension by focusing on racism. 

Advertisement about racism. (Source)

Crafting a cohesive plot

A well-developed plot makes sure that the design develops logically and coherently, leading the audience on a seamless and significant trip. Designers may structure their work efficiently by giving it a beginning, middle, and finish. A well-developed storyline ensures that the design evolves logically and coherently, taking the audience on a seamless and meaningful journey. Designers who structure their designs with a clear beginning, middle, and end are better able to communicate their intended message and narrative arc. Because it creates a sense of dread and suspense about what may happen next, an intriguing plot also keeps the audience interested. Aside from this, a naturally flowing plot enables designers to deliberately direct the viewer’s attention, leading them through the design components in a considerate and efficient manner.

An advertisement from KFC entitled Crossroads shows a chicken having a solitary adventure through a snowy mountain. In the end, he met a turkey. While the turkey challenged the chicken, the chicken won in the end. While it may be a simple plot, it successfully delivered the message that chicken is a superior food. The message is even emphasized through cowboy film-style graphics in the video.

KFC advertisement. (Source)

Incorporating mood

It is crucial to include mood as a storytelling component in graphic design since it creates atmosphere, arouses feelings, and forges a bond with the viewer. Whether it’s happiness, mystery, nostalgia, or excitement, the design’s mood can effectively portray the intended environment. Designers may establish a unified atmosphere that fits with the intended narrative and appeals to the target audience by carefully selecting colors, fonts, imagery, and visual styles. The atmosphere not only gives the design more depth and richness but also improves the storytelling experience by placing the audience in a certain emotional setting. It aids in evoking feelings, grabbing attention, and building a stronger bond with the design.

This advertisement’s video clips are relatively simple. However, it invoked the feeling of nostalgia by using retro colors, typography, and graphics. Because of this, Adidas is able to convey the message that its style is timeless.

Adidas advertisement. (Source)

Want to learn more about colors? Read our article Choosing the Right Color Palette for Branding and Marketing Materials.

Applying storytelling techniques like symbolism and metaphors

The use of symbolic language and metaphors in graphic design is extremely important since it gives the work more depth, meaning, and visual interest. Symbolism enables designers to convey complicated ideas or concepts with aesthetic simplicity through the use of iconic or abstract representations. It develops a visual language that connects with the audience by drawing on universal or shared cultural ideas. Conversely, metaphors let designers connect what may otherwise appear like unconnected aspects, which encourages viewers to comprehend and interact with the design on a deeper level. These strategies promote a sense of exploration and intellectual stimulation by inviting viewers to actively engage in deciphering the visual narrative. 

This advertisement strategically used the metaphor of an iceberg to symbolize that people with eye problems don’t see the whole picture of things. The graphics are simple, but the symbolism made it work beautifully.

Eye health advertisement. (Source)

Harness the Power of Storytelling in Your Designs Today.

Incorporating storytelling in your marketing campaigns can be challenging. It requires extreme creativity to translate a story into a design. For this reason, it’s best to hire professional graphic designers to do the job.

Lucky for you, Seter Graphic Labs is here.

Seter Graphic Labs is a group of professional graphic designers who can harness the power of storytelling techniques and translate them into marketing assets. We adapt narratives to different mediums, saving you time and delivering efficient results. With a fresh perspective and knowledge of graphic design, our work will bring your audience a whole new marketing experience.

If you want to leave a lasting impression on your audience, learn more about Seter Graphic Labs today.


Business owners, marketers, and graphic designers should view storytelling as an integral part of every marketing campaign. It establishes an emotional connection, engages your audience, and differentiates your brand from competitors, allowing you to maintain a competitive edge in the market. So, the next time you’re planning an advertisement, make sure it’s backed with a compelling story!

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