The year I discovered Sagmeister


Richard Huntington

There is always something to learn.

In the last 6 months or so I have come across the ‘Real Famous’ podcast – which is an amazing insight into the world of planning and strategy.

One of the most surprising things having been listening to this podcast, and subsequently talking to people is how we frame ‘new’ thinking. So much of my reading in the last few years has been around UX, Lean, etc. – which I think has tried to create its position in the start-up world with repackaged insight and strategy. What has become apparent (I think) is that the UX/Lean world use existing methodologies to describe this ‘brave new world’.

Same can be said for the digital marketing and brand purpose thinking – one look at the jargon filled thought-leadership pieces is just more self-indulgent wank to add into the public domain. What has been great is finding an alternative view of this narrative by listening and reading to the output from Paul Feldwick, Bob Hoffman, Russell Davies, Chris Riley, Dave Trott…(there are more…)

In short ad agencies and planning teams have been doing customer insight, qual research and brand strategies for a huge amount of years (although approach varies)  I think from what I can gather it all started with Chiat/Day (or perhaps that they were a key part of the planning history).

Anyhow back to Richard… He is Chief Strategy Officer at Saachi’s (ex HHCL and AMV BBDO). On the role of planning and strategy…

…the ability to reimagine a brand and therefore doing so imagine new roles, new sources of revenue…in a world of uncertainty where most businesses now face one challenge or another opens up a huge opportunity for strategists because we are being asked really big existential questions about brands and businesses…

… [his] best example is the re-imagining Direct Line insurance from an ‘insurance company’ to ‘an organisation that fixes problems for people’…

Here is a talk that he delivered in 2017 to planners…

In 20 minutes you get so much – anyone in the creative, marketing industry should be listening to this… dealing with the nonsense is something that most teams come across, deal with or have to navigate however we should be in a position to know more, have a greater understanding of the problem and look to solve the real problem in a way that makes sense for us to communicate with integrity.

From the first few minutes…

Its those half baked truths, nonsense that circulates around and around until we literally think its gospel, you know whether its fucking ‘Start With Why’, little concentric circles, or its ‘Always On’, or engagement, or loyalty… we just spout it out. And I am fed up with planners quoting planners…

We have got to start quoting real people, building our approaches, build your own approach the way you go about strategy – not from stuff that Mark Earls has said or I have said or anyone else – but from your own evidence and experience and your own observations about the real world, as close to real human beings as is humanly possible…


Filed under: Advertising, branding, ,

Real Famous – Plein Air

I can’t remember how I stumbled across the Real Famous podcast delivered by the guys at Plein Air. But I am so glad I have. There is something quite amazing how you can know of Rory Sutherland but not know of Paul Feldwick, Richard Huntington, Russell Davies, Martin Weigel or Chris Riley.

So inspiring, so much to take away and a huge amount of time needs to be invested here…

Awesome stuff…

Filed under: Advertising, branding, Podcast / Seminars

Just Eat

Big fan of Just Eat’s presence on Linkedin. Really like the type of posts that they write and curate – interesting part is without actually leaving Linkedin you can get a sense of what their culture is from the intro lines for each post.

But a more interesting element are their values. What I like about them is the fact they are made up of two words that don’t necessarily make loads of sense out of context – but they have ended up with 3 values that are really ‘ownable’ as an element. (This approach must exist in creating brands but I can’t think of any others that do this).

Here they are in full:

Make happy

We live for the joy side of life. The right food for every moment. We cherish the love our restaurant partners put into their cooking. We’re all about the enjoyment our customers get from their meal. It’s the smiles that make it worthwhile. What drives us is building more excitement, quality, fun and laughs into everyday food occasions, because food makes people happy.

Razor sharp

Everything can be made better. With clear direction, a relentless attitude, and non-stop innovation, we impact the things that matter most – more choice, better variety, fresh experiences, and new connections. We focus on getting things done, at pace, and with a laser-like focus. All so that people and restaurants discover more of each other, and the bar is constantly raised for everyone.

Big hearted

Just Eat is built on relationships, with people. The many, the few, the you: every individual matters, and we use every opportunity to make things personal and fair for everyone. We listen to understand, not just to reply. Respect comes as standard – for our customers, our partners and each other – and that’s how we build positivity into all our relationships and create new ones.

This is a company that is going from strength to strength and a vision to create the world’s greatest food community they are one awesome brand as brands go.

Filed under: branding,

Pirate Metrics

Mentioned by Michelle You in her talk at MTPcon – Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics – AARRR. (On an aside – slightly similar to Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday Jan 2016) – all captured here.

Filed under: Metrics, Product management, SEO, , , ,

Product Triangle: Business, User, Technology

Interesting articles describing product builders/product managers. Seen via an ad by YunoJuno.

The Product Triangle – two posts (adapted version – more practical – on Medium by Daniel Demetri and the original / more in depth – piece by Dan Schmidt on Product Logic). Main crux that looks at the skills dependent on where they sit on the product triangle – Business, User, Technology. Dan Schmidt – looks at the types: Vertex: excel in one area but know very little of the other two, Edge: those that connect two corners, Full triangle: acquire and hold knowledge of product’s technology, user base and business.

The upshot is (I think) that good product managers somewhat amorphously bridge the gaps that exist between other functional areas working toward a product’s success.’ and are ‘accountable for the healthy functioning of The Product Triangle which often entails going deep inside the details of each vertex or edge’.

Depending on background in becoming a product manager – having ‘biases and imbalances that yield greater strength in some areas, and less capability in others’ – for example:

  • User-First Product Manager – design background
  • Business-First Product Manager – MBA / general management
  • Technology-First Product Manager – tech background/engineering/computer science


Filed under: Product management, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Respect the Craft

Mind the Product event videos – not super recent but if you have great speakers who know their craft – much to takeaway: influencing processes, potentially implementation or just seeing how other teams do their thing.

Absolutely love Michelle You‘s presentation. Really open, honest and goes into great detail that allows a level of practical learning from her/Songkick product management process. (SK also have a blog – nice post on designing with data).

Some notes:

  • Modes: Optimising an existing product that’s live. Big bang product features or launches – shouldn’t happen that often. Brand new MVP discovery – you don’t know who your customer is and you don’t have a live product.
  • prioritisation and design-making get easier when goals are well defined. Most of the hard work….comes from breaking down a big..goal into smaller achievable sub-goals.
  • KPI can be broken down into themes or levers that influence that metric
  • Check the acquisition, activation, retention slide…
  • ‘Lean Analytics – Use data to build better start-up faster’: What makes up a good metric: Comparative – to be able to use the same metric for two sets of users, before and after or a/b test. Understandable – having it clear so it can be embedded in the team and easily referred to. Ratio/rate – so rather than total numbers of users, it is conversation rates or ratios – so that you can tell the difference between two things. Actionable – increase monthly users is not an actionable metric, it has got to be something that will change every day and will be sensitive to whatever you are shipping.
  • Example of this: Looking at your weight as a kpi – you want to lose 20lbs in 6 months as a long term kpi. But everyday you will be looking at how many miles you walked, how many calories you consumed – so things that you can control in the short-term that will impact into the longer term metric.
  • Process: take 5-10 themes for the main kpi. Discovery backlog – Experiment – Learning – Validated feature. Create the discovery backlog – idea generation – gamestorming format – use post-it notes (individually) then group them into categories or ideas. Work out the groups into an impact vs effort matrix – collaborative exercise (how much impact will it have vs expected effort involved)
  • Turn into an hypothesis – ‘if…then…because’ – ‘if we show you recommended concerts then you will more likely to buy a ticket because you will see more relevant events based on your tastes’ – So what we showed you before we showed everything in London if we personalise that list based on music you like then you will be probably be more likely to buy tickets.
  • Experimentation process: finding out if this what we should be building – so things like surveys, mock-up and click test, landing page tests, remote usability testing, user research. This will answer assumptions, prototypes, highest level of confidence that it will move the metric.
  • Use of split backlogs – validated features (70%), bugs, tech tasks/support (30%)
  • Meet once a week to prioritise for the next 2 weeks, tasks/stories from each board are selected to get moved into a main development board
  • Main dev board – Backlog: 2 weeks worth of user stories (always have some jfdi tasks). Next up: top 5 prioritised stories. In progress. Awaiting judgement – tests or features that need analysis on how it’s performed. Done.
  • Team dashboards – Review daily metrics dashboard every morning at stand-up. Weekly kpi email to the team tracking progress towards quarterly goals. Feature recap where we review the impact of individual features launched.


Filed under: Podcast / Seminars, UX design, , , ,

Vincent Mahé

New book charting 750 years of Parisian history. Created by Vincent Mahé (his Behance profile has a host of other projects). Full story on Fast Co site. Yours to buy from Nobrow Press.

Seen via @FastCoDesign

vincent-mahe-750-years-cover vincent-mahe-750-years-2 vincent-mahe-750-years-1

Filed under: Illustration, Shop, , , ,

Tintin: Hergé’s Masterpiece

At Somerset House. 12 Nov – 31 Jan. Free. No need to say anymore – surely will be amazing.

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Filed under: Exhibition, Illustration, Visit, , ,

Siri Melchior

Some fantastic illustrations and animations that appear throughout and define the look of the CBBC children’s show Show Me, Show Me. The show itself is fabulous and the illustrative style is brilliantly light, emotive and engaging.

Having done a little research – the illustrations/animations (for Show Me, Show Me) were created when Siri was at Trunk (animation company) which she co-founded. Now at her new venture since 2013 (which she co-founded with Marie Bro) working at (the award winning) Ladybird Films.

Credits: Trunk: Director Siri Melchior; Animators Rebecca Manley and Chris Wright

And from Ladybird films: Rita and Crocodile

Filed under: Film, Illustration, , , , , , ,

NHS.UK Alpha

NHS.UK Alpha – A project to ‘better digital and technology delivery to improve services to patients, to support new ways of providing care, to help save time and money to be spent on those most in need.’

Will read more into this – but on the face of it – looks like this will be the start of the NHS following in the steps of GOV.UK.

Filed under: UX design, ,