Surprise! Foreign Aid Works, and Other Good News

Spencer Critchley

Also published at the Huffington Post. When you hear every day about suffering, incompetence and corruption, it's easy to conclude that things only get worse in this world. But in fact, there's all kinds of progress being made, and many reasons for hope.

One of the best reasons I've come across lately is the most recent annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation:

Could Jeopardy Be the Next Big Thing on Twitter?

We all know the format of the game show “Jeopardy” and how it famously makes contestants answer in the form of a question. It is very entertaining on TV, but could this technique also work on Twitter? According to the BI Norwegian Business School, phrasing Twitter headlines in the form of a question can double or triple the number of clicks compared to a declarative tweet. You may start seeing this “Jeopardy Effect” on your twitter feed more and more. Read the full story...

David Kelley and Regaining Your "Creative Confidence"

David Kelley (Stanford professor and founder of IDEO)

In this TED blog post, David Kelley (Stanford professor and founder of IDEO) is interviewed about his cancer diagnosis and subsequent epiphany. The epiphany was the underlying push which led to the creation of the Stanford, where students across the spectrum are taught the processes and principles of 'design-thinking.' Kelley says “The thing I most wanted to do was to help as many people as possible regain the creative confidence they lost along their way.” He's now co-authored a book with his brother about the subject, Creative Confidence.

Thanks to all the staffers of the world

Here at Boots we do a lot of work with non-profits, and it's great. Getting to help these organizations do their good work is one of the best parts of my job. I just want to take this opportunity to thank all the staffers I've worked with over the years. Though the donors may fund the operations, and the executive boards may make the final decisions, it's the staffers that get it done. So to all my fellow cogs out there, here is a small glib salute to you!

The Secrets You Never See: How a Photo Becomes an Ad

Lilly in autumn dress

To most people, a photo is just a photo: you shoot it and it’s done. But to an art director, a photo is just a beginning: raw material to be transformed, in ways big and small, on the way to a finished design. A recent ad we did for our client Passionfish (a great restaurant in Pacific Grove,California) shows what I mean. We're lucky that Passionfish co-owner Cindy Walter is a lovely photographer, and she’s always sending us impossibly cute photos for use in their ads. She sent us one such photo (below), and I spent the afternoon seeing if I could incorporate it into a seasonal ad.

How We Used Animation to Help the Feds Help Veterans

Still image of two people from animationIt's a message from the federal government. About taxes. And labor rules.

How would you explain it?

"It" was the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC "Watt-see"). WOTC could help veterans and other deserving people get a job -- if only they, and their potential employers, could learn about it in a way that didn't sound impossibly complicated.

Working with our client Social Policy Research Associates for the US Department of Labor, we at Boots Road decided to use animation and video to help make that happen.

Here's a one-minute animation we created. The goal was to motivate employers to take advantage of WOTC, while reassuring them that applying wouldn't be a big pile of paperwork:

The Social Impact Movement: Designing Nonprofits to Succeed

Also published at the Huffington Post. Recently, I raised an awkward question: "Are Nonprofits Designed to Fail?"

As I wrote, for all the good work a nonprofit may do, it's often hard to tell if a it's really making a difference: fixing the underlying problem, rather than forever treating symptoms.

Now almost by definition, the challenges that nonprofits tackle are hard ones. After all, the rest of society has failed to meet them. And some non-profits do of course succeed.

But like an increasing number of other observers, I suspect that much of the nonprofit sector suffers from structural flaws that can make success much harder than it needs to be.

Here I discuss two of the biggest such flaws, and explore ideas for fixing them. These ideas come from a growing movement towards social impact, which seeks to reinvent our models of how nonprofits can work.

Anatomy of a Logo

I love logo design, everything about it, but especially the thought that goes on behind the process - the 'why' of how a new logo comes to be. When our client Global Majority came to us to update their branding and message, this was a great opportunity to explore the connection between an organization and their goals, values, and promise.

Global Majority's current logo was about a decade old. Our job was to take the same values that had supported this logo and create a modern, forward-facing logo that would be effective across international and cultural lines.


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