Visual Storytelling in Practice. A Case Study on our past work with UNICEF.

31 July 2019
528 words. / 3-4min read.
by Aleksandar Jovanovic
UNICEF Visual Storytelling
Credit: rightcolours | www.rightcolours.com

Out of the work we have produced in recent years, UNICEF projects stood out as those we are most proud of. Certainly, they were also the most challenging projects we ever faced considering the complexity of the content as well as the importance of the results.

The visuals showcased here have been taken from the following projects in our portfolio:
The Adolescent Brain: A Second Window of Opportunity
Innocenti Report Card 14: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries
Innocenti Report Card 12: Children of the Recession / A Generation Cast Aside

Taken all together, our task was essentially very similar for every single project.  We have been given reports with a vast amount of data and were asked to build a visual story around the most prominent content. We had also full flexibility to come up with ideas which type of materials (static, animated, interactive) to create and how to spread the concepts among them.

In particular, the goals and success factors were:

-Raising awareness about the findings
-Visualizing the key concepts in as few as possible visual materials
-Focusing on multi-purpose media that could also be used on social media
-Using entertaining and fun visuals while keeping a professional language that would enable even non-professionals to understand the implications
-Generating interest and clicks to the original full report
-Encouraging discussion about the topic beyond the report

As we have outlined in our article here (The Rise of Visual Storytelling in Business: Implications & Best Practices), Visual Storytelling should be defined as a method that uses visualization tools to attract attention, to simplify complex concepts and to convey a strong message that will stick in the viewer’s memory. These “tools“ can be any visual aid such as infographics, photography, maps, data-visualizations, interactive elements or videos & motion graphics.

In order to meet these requirements, we invested a substantial amount of time in researching the topics and understanding the concepts before we were able to structure the main take-aways. During the initial concept phases we regularly exchanged ideas, concepts and designs with UNICEF’s internal research specialists. During production, as per our own definition, our approach was based on the following 3 principles:

1-Visual Attraction.

To stand out, information, data or any visual piece of communication needs to be presented in a way that it attracts attention and curiosity. Even if the “end-user“ is not external to the organization, visual attractiveness tremendously facilitates adoption and sharing of knowledge and information. Graphics and animations help to set valuable reference points for our brains to recall or process memory in the future.

2-Simplicity & Facilitated Big Picture Comprehension.

It needs to quickly deliver the main message without to overwhelm or request deep analysis from the viewer. Especially if communication is meant to serve managerial purposes it should allow for an immediate big picture understanding enabling the viewer to draw conclusions without to require additional resources.

3-Profound Reasoning.

Every time visual communication is used to reduce complexity or to translate large amounts of written content into engaging digestible chunks of information, one runs the risk of over-simplifying or altering the source context. Therefore it is vital that visual storytelling is based on thorough research and understanding.

Visuals.

Below are selected visual materials created as part of the projects mentioned above. The order is not indicative of the individual story of each project. For the full project, visit the above mentioned individual project links or click on the respective image below.

static visuals:

animations: