My journal

Too fast to think

Our lives are getting faster and faster

Wouldn’t you agree?

We are engulfed in constant distraction from email, social media and our ‘always on’ work culture. We are too busy, too overloaded with information and too focused on analytical left-brain thinking processes to be creative.

This inspiring book, Too Fast to Think, exposes how our current work practices, media culture and education systems are detrimental to innovation. The speed and noise of modern life is undermining the clarity and quiet that is essential to power individual thought.

Our best ideas are often generated when we are free to think diffusely, in an uninterrupted environment, which is why moments of inspiration so often occur in places completely separate to our offices.

To reclaim creativity, Too Fast to Think teaches you how to retrain your brain into allowing creative ideas to emerge, before they are shut down by interruption, distraction or the self-doubt of your over-rational brain.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to maximize their creative potential, as well as that of their team. Supported by cutting-edge research from the University of the Arts London and insightful interviews with business leaders, academics, artists, politicians and psychologists, Chris Lewis takes a holistic approach to explain the 8 crucial traits that are inherently linked to creation and innovation.

From artists to a military officer and clergyman, while researching Too Fast To Think Chris asked a range of people the same question: where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas? “The response was striking,” he says. “They all said that they were not at work, always alone and not trying.”


How to still get work done on flights adopting the laptop ban

I know, I’m being a bit facetious here, but I just couldn’t resit.

I saw the above headline for a WIRED article, in which it offered ideas on how to circumvent the ban on larger electronic gadgets such as laptops on airline travels.

The ban prevents any electronic item with built-in batteries and plugs from being taken on the flight, if it exceeds any of these measurements: 16cm long, 9.3cm wide, 1.5cm deep. This covers laptops, tablets, phones, e-readers and portable DVD players.

WIRED’s conclusion? Anyone that has to work, will be forced to use their phone. It’s not going to be the most comfortable ride, but hey, they offer some tips to make it workable.


….take my advice: get away from the screen. Rethink how you work. Revert to pre-digital tools upon which entire civilisations have been built: pen and paper.

Unless airlines ban sharpened pencils next, these tools can be used at any time, without the need to recharge or wifi connection. And you will have saved not only another bit of rainforest, but also a wad of money you can use for… well, I’ll leave that up to you.




Equal Not Divided

An inspiring new campaign aimed at building a more integrated society

Just been putting the finishing touches to the just-launch Equal Not Divided website that me and copywriter Ben Beaumont have been working on.

Equal Not Divided is a campaign for schools led by The Challenge, the UK’s leading charity for building a more integrated society. Launched in 2009, The Challenge’s vision is a more integrated society where people understand and appreciate each other’s differences.

And so they launched a new report, in collaboration with the iCoCo Foundation and SchoolDash, titledUnderstanding School Segregation in England: 2011 to 2016 (PDF).



If you are a small charity, or need a campaign portal like this designed and produced, don’t hesitate! We’d love to work with you to achieve your goals, effective and cost efficiently.  Get in touch today and I’ll give you a no-obligation quote.

Raccoons of the Resistance?

“What on earth are the Raccoons of the Resistance?” Well, the Raccoons are there to help you channel your anger against the literal coup in the USA with a handy coup-resisting guide. They present a handy guide to fighting back against President Donald J. Trump‘s tangerine corn-syrup dicktatochip.

But where are they from? By the looks of it, it is a cartoon series with it’s origin is in the Guardian newspaper. While they now pop up on the Guardian’s Opinion pages, you’ll get just as much entertainment out of following them on Facebook.

Raccoons of the Resistance cartoon.png

And for the devotees – there are t-shirts to buy too!


Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me grumbling. I’m keeping pretty busy work-wise, thanks.

I am just a little curious, that’s all.

By telling you that I am keeping busy I have, in some way, already answered my own question. But.. it is still a question that it’d like to put out there:

Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Is it that  people generally think any creative can come up with great ideas that ‘sell’ a charity’s cause? Is selling financial products one day, and asking for donations to help fund some unforgiving illness another day really the same thing?

Having spent years and years crafting fundraising journeys, both in print and online, donation forms and petitions, I know that many communication professionals are not aware of the pitfalls involved in charity sector marketing. Ever since Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old poppy seller, took her own life feeling “distressed and overwhelmed” by the huge number of requests for donations she received from charities, the press and government regulations have been keeping a very sharp eye on what charities get up to.

Creating a form or doing data capture activities a much more challenging project these days. There are many pitfalls to be avoided – which you only learn about by working on projects, wherever in the charity sector.

What I have learnt from this is that each organisation tries to solve the same problem in a different way. As a freelancer, by working for a wide variety of organisations, I’m one of those few people who has many opportunities to learn yet more ways of doing things, and can transfer ideas and practices that can be applied to other organisations too.

But it isn’t just the legal communication challenges that a creative needs to take into account. All that experience means that, as an example, while I was working on a recent project on preventing child abuse by NGO participants, my team (me and and a copywriter) were not just ‘hired guns’ strictly following the client’s brief, but could make informed recommendations on what tone and voice to use, how to address that particular audience and above all, protect the dignity of the children in the process.

So, no matter what you tell me, after a day selling the latest trend in cereals this is not natural territory for commercial designers or writers to switch over to. Which is why, I really think that this industry should be actively looking to recruit creatives that are experienced in charity communications, that understand that there are many stakeholders involved in each project, that each project needs to cut through a crowded media field-  bypassing a sometimes cynical public – to reach those that want to be engaged and help the causes we are promoting.

Saying that, next time you are thinking of doing a comms project, why not consider hiring someone with experience? Or, if you can’t hire, find freelancers (no plug, honestly) which offer the experience that could add more ROI to your project than you might have thought possible?

Me, I’m Christian Guthier. Do look me up on Linkedin. or get in touch today.

We don’t need to consume less. We just need to design better products

Having read and loved this celebrated industrial manifesto Cradle to Cradle, this article by one of it’s authors caught my attention straight away. The attraction here is that we don’t have to preach to the public about being frugal and pious, but that we simply need to do things in a better way. The benefits would be on many levels: from preserving scarce resources, protecting the environment to creating new job opportunities. The news is good. Time to do it!

The world doesn’t have a consumption problem, it has a design problem, says Lewis Perkins, President of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and a member of the Global Future Council on Consumption. Instead of consuming less, we need to design products that are less harmful to our environment and the labour force that creates them, he argues in this interview.

Why is it important to think about the future of consumption?

The world’s population is growing, and consumption drives the global economy – so even if we wanted to cut back on consumption, it isn’t a realistic ambition. But I don’t think the world has a consumption problem, I think we have a design problem: we are still designing products to be made with rapidly diminishing resources, in ways that are toxic to our water systems, not mindful of the labour force that creates them, and so on.

There’s widespread acceptance now that we need to retool the economy, to change the equation around each of those components of design. But how we do this is a huge question. It’s valuable to have space to focus on one specific part of it: the standpoint of consumers. We are in a disruptive moment, both politically and technologically, and that offers opportunities to rethink how we consume – indeed, how we want to live on this planet.

What are the emerging trends in the shifting patterns of consumption?

I think there are three, and they all fit closely together. The first one is the circular economy: we are paying more and more attention to the materials that go into products.

The second is the sharing economy: we are shifting from models of ownership to models of service. There are limits to what we might want to share – toothbrushes, for example – but there’s a lot of potential to take the model that’s growing exponentially with Uber and AirBnB into other products, like technology, hardware or apparel. If current trend forecasting is correct, the rising generation of consumers will think very differently about the concept of ownership.

Finally, there’s a nascent but growing backlash against designed obsolescence – the idea that you buy an Apple or Samsung phone, say, and expect to throw it away and get another in 12-18 months. Products like the Fairphone – which is designed to be repaired and upgraded by replacing modules, for greater longevity – could be seriously disruptive to this kind of business model.

Are there examples of major companies embracing these trends?

Having mentioned Apple, they are putting out some videos about recycling – but it looks more like an added back-end system than a radical change in design. Companies that seem to be seriously rethinking their entire models include H&Mand Ikea, who made a bold statement that we’ve reached “peak stuff” and they plan to make their products easier to repair and recycle.

How they get there remains to be seen, but I do believe this is more than just the marketing speak du jour. Organisations are starting to see the risk of becoming dinosaurs.

What are the barriers to changing models of consumption?

For now, it still works to be a dinosaur. Most people are still buying phones to throw away in 12-18 months. It’s still cheaper to make stuff with raw materials. In many companies, well-intentioned people in sustainability offices are doing good work but keep running up against a brick wall.

So the big barrier is leadership: it takes a lot of guts to jump off your cash cow. If you’re a $10 billion company, are you willing to risk becoming a $9 billion company – or even a $5 billion company – if you believe that’s what it takes to invest in your longevity?

What role is there for governments and the nonprofit sector?

I think we’ll see more mission-based organisations, including nonprofits, getting into the space of solving problems for corporations by setting up systems to collect, sort and reuse their products – and the future may be in startups that eventually get bought out by larger companies.

As for governments, most likely we’ll see a market-driven process that evolves into standards, that ultimately become regulatory – although the pace at which that happens will depend on where you are. We’ll likely see earlier and firmer regulatory pushes from, say, the EU than the US government.

Where can you imagine we’ll be by 2030?

I can imagine that technology will have given us better systems to track materials. The concept of a “material passport” is getting more discussion now, and – at the risk of throwing out buzzwords – big data and the Internet of Things may have advanced sufficiently by 2030 that we will have a database of where all materials and components in each product came from.

Such a database would enable much more sophisticated systems to arrange the return of materials and components to the companies that manufactured them – and also for third parties to verify the source of materials and their quality, to check that they can safely be recycled into something else.

Facebook Advertising Checklist

When setting up a paid Facebook ad, there are a lot of boxes to be checked.

Are you targeting the right people? Are your image dimensions to scale? Are you running the right type of ad? There is a lot that you need to consider and it can get a little confusing.

With more than 1.4 billion people using Facebook and over 900 million visits every day, Facebook offers up a unique opportunity for marketers to augment their organic efforts. Trouble is, with both an investment of time and money on the line, there’s not much room for oversight.

The Ultimate Checklist for Creating & Optimizing Facebook Ads

Facebook offers a wide variety of paid ad options and placements, but all ads can be broken down into three elements:

  1. Campaigns. The campaign houses all of your assets.
  2. Ad sets. If you’re targeting separate audiences with different characteristics, you’ll need an individual ad set for each.
  3. Ads. Your actual ads live within your ad sets. Each ad set can hold a variety of ads that vary in colour, copy, images, etc.

With that terminology out of the way, let’s get started creating our ad.

“Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine”
David Ogilvy

Choose an objective

Facebook’s Ads Manager, like many social media advertising networks, is designed with your campaign objective in mind. Before getting started, Ads Manager will prompt you to choose an objective for your campaign:

There are 10 different objectives to choose from. The list includes everything from sending people to your website to getting installs of your app to raising attendance at your event.

By choosing one of these objectives, you’re giving Facebook a better idea of what you’d like to do so they can present you with the best-suited ad options. Facebook’s ad options include:

  • Page Post Engagements
  • Page Likes
  • Click to Website
  • Website Conversions
  • App Installs
  • App Engagement
  • Event Responses
  • Offer Claims
  • Video Views
  • Local Awareness

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at”
Leo Burnett

Choose your audience

If you’re just starting out with paid advertising on Facebook, it’s likely that you’ll have to experiment with several different targeting options until you reach an audience that fits just right.

To help you narrow your focus, Facebook’s targeting criteria are accompanied by an audience definition gauge. This tool — located to the right of the audience targeting fields — takes all of your selected properties into consideration in order to come up with a potential reach number.

If you’re wavering between choosing a specific audience over a broad one, consider your objective. If you’re looking to drive traffic, you’ll probably want to focus on the type of people you know will be interested in your offering. However, if you’re looking to build brand awareness or promote a widely appealing offer, feel free to focus on a more general audience.

Facebook’s built-in targeting is vast, including options such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Relationship
  • Education
  • Work
  • Financial
  • Home
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents
  • Politics (U.S. only)
  • Life Events
  • Interests
  • Behaviours
  • Connections
“If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”
Jim Stengel

Set your budget

Facebook offers advertisers the option to set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget. Here’s how they differ from one another:
  • Daily budget. If you want your ad set to run continuously throughout the day, this is the option you’ll want to go for. Using a daily budget means that Facebook will pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that the minimum daily budget for an ad set is $1.00 USD and must be at least 2X your CPC (Cost per Click).
  • Lifetime budget. If you’re looking to run your ad for a specified length of time, select lifetime budget. This means that Facebook will pace your spend over the time period you set for the ad to run.


“By definition, remarkable things get remarked upon”
Seth Godin

Create your advert

What do you want your ad to look like? It all depends on your original objective.

If you’re looking to increase the number of clicks to your website, Facebook’s Ad Manager will suggest the Click to Website ad options. Makes sense, right?

This ad option is broken down into two formats: Links and Carousels. Essentially, this means that you can either display a single image ad (Links) or a multi-image ad (Carousel) with three to five scrolling images at no additional cost.

Once you decide between the two, you’ll need to upload your creative assets. It’s important to note that for each type of ad, Facebook requires users to adhere to certain design criteria.

For single image ads, they ask that users adhere to the following considerations:

  • Text: 90 characters
  • Link Title: 25 characters
  • Image ratio: 1.91:1
  • Image size: 1200 pixels x 627 pixels. (Use a minimum image width of 600 pixels for ads appearing in News Feed.)

For multi-image ads — also known as Carousel Ads — Facebook provides the following design recommendations:

  • Recommended image size: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1:1
  • Text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
  • Your image may not include more than 20% text. See how much text is on your image.

Keep in mind that these are the ad options for the “send people to your website” objective.

If you selected “boost your posts,” you’d be presented with different ad options like the Page Post Engagement: Photo ad. This ad has a unique set of design recommendations. To explore all of the ad options and their design specifics, refer to this resource.

Low on design budget and want to make sure that you have met all the parameters? Canva is a great online editor that you can use to pull together a great ad (using your images) that fits within the Facebook image specs!

“In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope.”
Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Report on the performance

Once your ads are running, you’ll want to keep an eye on how they’re doing. To see their results, you’ll want to look in two places: the Facebook Ad Manager and your marketing software.

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
Henry Ford

Facebook’s Ad Manager

Facebook’s Ad Manager is a sophisticated dashboard that provides users with an overview of all their campaigns.

Upfront, the dashboard highlights an estimate of how much you’re spending each day. The dashboard is organized by columns, which makes it easy to filter through your ads so you can create a custom view of your results. Key numbers like reach, frequency, and cost are readily available, making reporting on performance a no brainer.

According to Facebook, here are some of the key metrics to look for (and their definitions):

  • Performance. Can be customized further to include metrics like results, reach, frequency and impressions
  • Engagement. Can be customized further to include metrics like Page likes, Page engagement and post engagement
  • Videos. Can be customized further to include metrics like video views and avg. % of video viewed
  • Website. Can be customized further to include metrics like website actions (all), checkouts, payment details, purchases and adds to cart
  • Apps. Can be further customized to include metrics like app installs, app engagement, credit spends, mobile app actions and cost per app engagement
  • Events. Can be further customized to include metrics like event responses and cost per event response
  • Clicks. Can be further customized to include metrics like clicks, unique clicks, CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (cost per click)
  • Settings. Can be further customized to include metrics like start date, end date, ad set name, ad ID, delivery, bid and objective

Tracking URLs will help you keep track of how many leads, or better yet, how many customers you’ve gained from your advertising efforts. This information is useful in determining the ROI of this source, and can also be used to inform your targeting strategy.

There are great resources to make sure that you didn’t miss anything during the Facebook Ad planning process. Share your Facebook advertising stories in the comments – I hope that this guide is useful!

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does”
Steuart Henderson Britt

Article written by  |  Content and Social Media Officer at University of Oxford