Visual Storytelling: Driving Team Alignment and Innovation

Think about a time you were given verbal direction on how to navigate your way. For instance, you were told to take a left, go down a mile, make a U-turn, and take the third street on the right. Now compare that experience to a time you were given a visual map to guide your way.

With verbal direction, it’s easy to get lost or deviate from the correct path, but with a map, it’s simple to see where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there.

That is the power of visual storytelling—a game changer in forging a clear path.

Visual storytelling may be essential to drivers on the road, but even more so, visual storytelling is significantly valuable within collaborative teams.

Visual storytelling creates alignment within a diverse team.

Organizations are prioritizing diversity in the workplace as studies show that diverse teams help drive company success. According to McKinsey’s 2020 report, “Companies in the top quartile for diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.”

The adoption of more diversity in the workplace brings more perspectives, differing viewpoints, and various interpretations, which can lead to inconsistency and misunderstanding within a team. This is where visual storytelling plays a vital role in creating unity amongst a team. Clear visuals help orient a team around a direction and guides them down a unified path. When a team is aligned, collaboration is not only more effective, but also efficient. Teams can surpass ambiguity and forge ahead.


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Visual storytelling adds efficiency and effectiveness within team collaboration.

Organizations often rely on verbal and text platforms to communicate, which can come across as flat, dull, and static. It lacks context and background, limiting the ability to relate to a message on a deeper level. When teams are unable to relate to an idea, it’s easily forgotten. Trying to understand a concept without a visual is like looking at sheet music without ever playing it. The ability to hear the music incites emotion and fosters a deeper understanding of the music. Seeing a visual works the same way—it enhances the experience and memorability of the content.

Visual storytelling gives context to a situation. It takes a single thought or idea and fits it into a larger picture with characters, attributes, and behaviors. It creates a visual scene that’s quick and easy to understand. Research from MIT found that the human brain can process an image in just 13 milliseconds. This aligns with the findings of a study from the University of Minnesota that the human brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, using visuals can be an incredibly effective way to communicate.

Visual storytelling provides clarity to complex situations.

Visuals provide clarity and clarity provides understanding. This is what visual storytelling is all about. It brings ideas to life and creates a visual reality. It takes complex situations and diagrams and breaks it down into simplified scenes. It illustrates a story with various sketches and through these detailed illustrations, teams can see each step of the story and comprehend a deeper understanding. They go on a visual journey through the scenes, connecting to the characters and seeing the situation from the character’s point of view.


Visual storytelling example


“A picture’s worth a thousand words.”

This hundred-year-old adage, first coined by Frederick Barnard in 1921, is still well-known and widely used today due to the truth it holds behind the power of an image. A single visual can communicate a multitude of thoughts and ideas, delivering a message more effectively than text or narrative.

Visual storytelling takes people from being in a passive role of receiving information to an active role of engaging with it. Visuals are captivating and quick to grab attention. They seize focus, which helps with processing information and connecting ideas.

Visual storytelling drives curiosity, fostering innovation.

Everyone sees a problem from their own point of view, driven by their own experiences, and are quick to search for a solution that adheres to their own perspective on the issue. On the contrary, companies need to look at a problem from their stakeholder’s point of view. With visual storytelling, teams can lead with curiosity to drive discussions that solicit helpful stakeholder stories and experiences.

Visuals put a situation into a tangible existence and give teams something they can point to, not just internalize. Looking at a problem visually in a concrete state ignites opinions about the visual. It stirs emotion and fuels the need to ask questions. Teams may have opposing thoughts of how a scene should look or feel, leading to more meaningful conversations. Sharing occurs and a deeper understanding follows.

Let visual storytelling guide your journey to digital transformation.

With a cross-functional team of engineers, designers, and strategists, visual storytelling is a key ingredient to helping our clients with digital strategy and digital solutions here at Twisthink. Visual storytelling roots everyone from diverse points of view into a shared understanding. It helps eliminate hurdles, remove uncertainty, lead with curiosity, and foster innovation, guiding us on our journey to delivering successful, impactful digital solutions.

Want to learn more about our process? Connect with us and discover how Twisthink can guide you on your journey to digital transformation.

John is a Senior Design Strategist at Twisthink. He has a passion for using visual storytelling to process information, connect ideas, engage with people, and communicate to the world.


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