Abstract shapes and colors in themselves do not carry meaning. Careful annotation can assign meaning, scale, and scope to the representation, but narrative framing can help readers understand the meaning and significance of a given data visualization, and add emotional impact.
One form of narrative framing walks readers through the issue and the graphic, building the story step-by-step.
Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. They have actors and a meaningful climax, and evoke emotions. Stories guide the audience on a journey.
Data visualizations can be used to walk a reader through an issue in stages. A given data visualization can animate or change over the course of the story, or else different visualizations can be used at different stages of the story.