Here is how I got started and how I can help you.
From childhood, I wanted to affect the world. I wanted to create something that mattered, but I had no skills to do this.
One of the things I loved and was good at was drawing. So I would draw crazy ideas for new products.
I would show them to my parents and teachers and explain the idea. But I didn’t know enough science to make my machines work so I would ask my Dad for help.
He would then teach me some science, and I would be able to make better and more realistic designs.
This process continued up to the age of 10 when my teacher told my class about a competition.
My teacher encouraged me to enter. I thought it was a drawing competition, but it was a national advertising competition with 30,000 entrants.
The UK government was launching a campaign to encourage wearing bright clothing and lights while cycling. So they asked school children to design posters to promote using bike lights.
Finally, something I was qualified to do as I loved riding my bike, so I was the target audience.
I did some research and looked at all the posters around my school. I noticed they all had large writing and a few important words (a slogan or key message). So I decided my poster should focus on some words.
While the other children started with a picture, I started thinking about words. I crafted a few versions of the text and got feedback from my teacher. While others were drawing pretty pictures, I was getting clear on my message.
But the other children finished their posters in class and when the teacher asked me if I was finished. I wasn’t done yet and wanted to take it home to show my parents. So I asked if I could bring it back tomorrow. She said Ok, but it must be tomorrow because it needed to be sent off to the competition.
After school, I rushed home to share the news with my family and get more feedback on my idea. This getting rapid feedback helped me to create a much better poster in the end.
When I had the message, I also refined the size and position of the words and the drawing. I made lots of posters, each time improving a small part with feedback.
I was making wireframes in 1994, long before that idea was well known. Wireframes are basic line sketches that focus on the structure, like this website design:
My marketing experience was born from a love of drawing. However, it was the 5-word slogan which won me that competition. At the beginning, I didn’t think the writing would be so important, but I learned the message was the key.
Since then, I’ve written a lot of words. Slowly improving at copywriting, but that’s another story.
So I managed to affect the world in a small way. Seeing my idea come to life and knowing it was making a difference, was much more valuable to me than the £10 bike lights I won as a prize.
I love the idea, strategy and design phase. I get so excited about it that I’ve helped many people for free.
The downside is that many people then say my work is theirs and don’t acknowledge the value I’ve given them. They don’t highlight the part you played in the design process.
As a 10-year-old, I got a lot of help from my teacher. I wouldn’t have even heard about the competition without her. My poster would have been crap without her guidance and feedback.
It was probably her idea to tell me to research other posters (my brain conveniently forgot that part). She prompted us to think about the words, not just the picture. She gave me feedback and told me which areas could be improved.
We all need that guide, someone who pushes us in the right direction and is with us on the journey.
My role has changed. Now I’m that guide, helping others create their message and make it 1000 times better.
I’ve learned that the best way for me to affect the world is by helping others. It’s not about me and my ego. I don’t need to do it all myself.
I can help you increase your impact. By doing that, I feel the joy of being a part of something bigger than myself.
And as I Google the sentence now, a very similar poster design and copy are still used today, 28 years later! And not just in the UK, the idea also spread to Australia.
Not bad for a 10-year-old’s first go at marketing.
Here are the five words that have been affecting the world for 28 years:
WEAR A LIGHT
Creative, catchy and effective.
5 of my words have saved thousands of people’s lives.
Well, if I could prove the thousands of lives saved, that would make a better story. But at least I can say that I influenced the world and indirectly saved some lives.
Since then, I’ve helped many founders and companies with business/marketing strategy, branding and copy.
So let’s come up with something awesome today. Tell me about your project, and let’s make it happen.
Let me help you improve your message and have a bigger affect on the world.