Free download! Seven Visual Storytelling Methods and When to Use Them

visual storytelling methods
Graphic produced by Cel Culture Lab and Race Forward

Stories impact and motivate us, and a picture is worth a thousand words. Knowing how to use visual storytelling methods to tell your story–sometimes that’s difficult for public and social sector marketers who aren’t trained designers or have access to design help.

Use this story format wheel from Culture Lab to explore your options for visual storytelling and choose the method that best fits your goals.

The story format wheel covers seven visual storytelling methods:

  • Infographics
  • Online video and animated explainers
  • Long-form documentary
  • Interactive media
  • Online photo series
  • “Snackable” microcontent (think 20 second videos and single-stat infographics)
  • Virtual reality

Six Storytelling Questions You Should Answer

For each method of storytelling, the story format wheel covers six questions:

  • What are you trying to do?
  • Why use this format?
  • How can you engage your audience?
  • What are the pros and cons of this method?
  • What resources do you need?
  • How do you know it is working?

Honestly these are great design principles for anything that you are planning to design and distribute.

If you’re reading this post about free tools, you probably don’t have the resources to produce long-form documentary or virtual reality. These are big endeavors involving lots of people, time and equipment. It’s okay–you can still do a lot with the other five story formats.

However, if long-form document and VR are methods that the story format leads you to, consider these options:

  • Can someone produce the content for you on a volunteer or pro bono basis?
  • Can you partner with another organization to jointly produce the content?
  • Do any funders specialize in backing these types of content?
  • Is there existing content from another organization that you can help distribute and promote?

Also, I need to give kudos for Culture Lab for their creative use of PowerPoint. I wouldn’t project these slides in a conference room, but they work perfectly for publishing an ebook.

Which formats are you using, and are they working for you? Which format will you try next?


Do you need help in developing and applying your organizational narrative? Check out my fixed-rate services.