Image from campbell rowley website

Image from campbell rowley website


On Saturday I was giving a guest lecture to an MA course. One of my fellow guest lecturers was Grant Campbell from a design agency called Campbell Rowley.

As a designer his presentation looked great, every slide was based upon a striking image and was impeccably laid out. This is how it should be of course as a demonstration of his care and his ability. There were also 8 things, 8 top tips that he had that we could all learn from and use starting tomorrow. These are a mixture of what he said but also what I observed.

One: Don’t put your name on page 1. He didn’t. He had it on page 3. Page 1 was about the big picture of what he was going to discuss with some ideas to excite the audience, a teaser. Page 2 was why this was relevant. what’s in it for the audience. Page 3 was then his name and his personal brand. I like this approach. You take note of his name because by page 3 he has given you a reason to do so.

Two: Success and personal brand. Some people find it hard to integrate the two. How do you give an air of financial rigor while still talking with passion. Grant said his name, his experience and then… “and as a company we have no debt and what that means is that we seek out projects that we care about and that we can really make a difference with”. That statement is so simple yet so powerful. It indicates a philosophy of working together, an energy, a commitment to excellent work and also business stability and a safe pair of hands.

Three: Do actually seek out projects that you care about. Sometimes you just have to know when to walk away. The clearest brief in the world counts for nothing if the brief is for something poor. Don’t let your reputation suffer because a client wants something you disagree with. You will get blamed for it eventually. Everyone will point at you and say this doesn’t work and it’s your fault. Walk away for the sake of the long term.

Four: When a brief / commission / opportunity comes in – get it out again. Share it around quickly and ask for ideas quickly from EVERYONE in the team. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Five: Except for one person. Keep them out of the loop. They are your person to practice on later – the cynical viewer. What Grant calls ‘Phil the Foreigner’

Six: Take an ‘ummmm’ moment during the design of your pitch. What he means by that is a quiet moment where you stop frantically ‘copying and pasting’ anything in just to get the damn thing done and actually think about what you are doing.

Seven: Use a McGuffin structure. A McGuffin is an idea from scriptwriting, most famously used by Hitchcock. It is a plot device that runs through the film and binds it together – for instance a microfilm that someone is after. The film isn’t about the microfilm. The film is about intrigue, themes of identity, a comment on the cold war – but the microfilm (the mcguffin) binds it together. Have a mcguffin for your pitch.

Eight: Generally in design stop thinking about what the computer can do and start thinking about what you want to do and then how the computer may help you do it.

What would your last pitch have been like with these 8 tips.