Case Study: Graphics and marketing

One of the great advantages of graphics are their use in a multitude of disciplines. This week we’re talking to Yekemi Otaru of YO! Marketing about how she uses graphics in her work with oil and gas companies.

Yekemi started YO! Marketing®, a strategic marketing consultancy, in July 2016, a time when the oil and gas industry faced major challenges.

At about that time, she came across the Secrets of Simple Graphics course in Edinburgh. Yekemi felt simple graphics were the ideal way to convey her business solution and the benefits to her target customers in a fresh, fun way.

Yekemi says, ‘I never thought of myself as an artist, graphic designer or illustrator so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course. Emer’s laidback and engaging style really got me immersed in the training. She shared several uses of graphics such as facilitation and storytelling.’

As the training progressed, Yekemi started to see more ways she could use graphics with her existing clients and on her business blog. She found that graphical illustrations, when used to communicate ideas could be very powerful. And to her relief, it wasn’t about being an artist. As she says, ‘My objective is not to recreate the Mona Lisa. It is to communicate an idea through engaging visuals.’

Yekemi’s graphic illustrations have helped her to stand out with clients. She illustrates their market landscape, or how her solution could alleviate a current business challenge. It is a break from PowerPoint and she finds her clients appreciate the effort she puts in. ‘Clients love the drawings with some commenting that they’d like to frame my drawings. It’s a quick, visual reminder of our work together.’

Yekemi Otaru is a marketing strategist and published author. Based in Aberdeen, she owns YO! Marketing, a marketing and strategy consultancy that supports Technology SMEs and start-ups to attain their business growth goals through marketing.

Keen to follow in Yekemi’s footsteps? There are just a couple of places remaining for this month’s course in Bristol. Book your place now  for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019 >>

P.S. Are you using graphics in your work? Would you like to be featured in a case study? Get in touch.

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

I’d like to introduce you to Jenni Inglis, MDes, MSc, FRSA. Jenni is Director of VIE (for Life) Ltd. VIE enables social purpose organisations to better involve their stakeholders in design and evaluation of initiatives in order to create more positive change. Jenni attended Secrets of Simple of Graphics back in January 2017.  Read about her experience – her reasons for attending the training, how she’s using graphics in her work now and what she has to say to people who are thinking about learning this skill.


Before Jenni attended Secrets of Simple Graphics in January 2017 she already used some graphics in her work as a facilitator. However she only used graphics she had prepared beforehand. Jenni felt this was limiting what she was doing. She has recently found herself working more and more with groups of people who might not get the most from spoken and written English. She felt that an increased use of graphics would help in these settings. The introduction session in the training helped Jenni to realise that she actually wanted to become more fluent in graphics, so that she could use them more spontaneously and draw graphics live in front of people.


Jenni found the training to be great practice in drawing graphics live in front of people. She thought it very well structured and full of tips and tools to improve the way she uses graphics. It enabled her to explore the use of graphics in different ways that she had not previously thought of (e.g. the difference between graphic recording and graphic facilitation) and to identify stretch targets for herself.


As Jenni says, ‘At the end of the course I had really caught the bug, in a good way!’. Jenni decided that she wanted to use graphics all the time in all her work – in presentations, in templates for individuals and groups, in capturing what people say, and when training – so that she could really become fluent, just like learning any language.  She gets a lot of positive feedback and the individuals and groups she works with are more engaged. To someone who is considering going on the training, Jenni says, ‘Do it! You’ll have a great day and learn a lot about how you can make your work more engaging through graphics.’ See below for a sample of Jenni’s work!              

Keen to catch the bug yourself? Book your place now for Secrets of Simple Graphics April 26th 2019

Top tips for lettering on flip charts

Top tips for lettering on flip charts

Have you ever written a list on a flipchart only to discover that, despite best efforts, your writing makes a downward curve?

Here are my top tips for lettering:

  • Write your title in advance where possible. Figure out how many letters you can fit across the page before you run out of space.


  • When writing live, add a little mark to the opposite side of the page (where your sentence will end). Glance over at the mark from time to time – this acts as a guide to help keep your writing straight.


  • Stick out your pinky! Use it to anchor your hand on the page. This works whether you are right or left-handed.


  • Using a ruler, draw lines on your flipchart in pencil beforehand.


  • Use a piece of flipchart paper with thick lines and place it behind the page you are working on. (This always reminds me of my Mum sitting down to write a letter to my aunt using Basildon Bond stationery.)


  • On that note it’s also possible to buy flipchart paper that features lines or guides to help your writing.

Remember to use plain lettering with no serifs (small lines added to the stroke of a letter like this for example) and avoid fancy calligraphic strokes. They may look pretty but they are often inaccessible to your audience.

I hope you enjoyed these tips on lettering – if you have any of your own do let me know and I’ll share them in a future edition.

For more tips and hands on practice to boot why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019? More information and booking here >>

Explaining the power of simple graphics

Explaining the power of simple graphics

They say a picture paints a thousands words and naturally, I agree. As such I have created a one page graphic to explain what graphics are all about. I hope you like it. Feel free to print it out and/or share it with colleagues and associates who may be interested.

I also have a version in Spanish. Let me know if you’d like it and I’ll email you a copy.

Interested in creating your own one page graphic to explain your work? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019.

The course can also be delivered in house. The exercise around creating a one page graphic is particularly powerful for building connection and understanding across teams. Do get in touch if you’d like more information.

Icebreakers with a twist

Icebreakers are sometimes overlooked as a non essential, flippant or even embarrassing way to kick off a training session.

If these thoughts ever pop into my mind I soon recall the one or two training events I ran where I decided not to use an icebreaker, and how disastrous they were.

Used correctly, icebreakers are a great way for a group to get to know one another, to relax and to get into an optimum mindset for learning.

Here are some of my favourite icebreakers; all with a graphic twist.

1. Truth or Lie
A classic icebreaker. Each person calls out two statements about themselves, one is true, one is false. The group have to guess which is which.
Add a graphic twist by asking for a volunteer to draw the first person’s two statements on a flip chart. (Once they have finished someone else gets up to draw their two statements, and so on.)
The volunteer has absolutely no idea what the person is going to say, and although at first the thought of drawing on the spot may seem horrifying, in my experience everyone really enjoys this game. The drawings make it a hilarious and memorable experience for everyone.

2. Animal Alphabet Game
Start by drawing an animal beginning with the letter A. Whoever is first to guess what the animal is gets up to draw an animal beginning with B and so on. I have used this with groups of children and adults alike and everyone loves it, despite often getting stuck on N, Y, W…

3. Pictionary
Who doesn’t love Pictionary? Not just for Christmas, it’s also a fun and engaging way to open a session. People take turns drawings words, sayings or topic specific phrases whilst others guess at what is being depicted. What could possibly go wrong?!

Despite some initial resistance, once the games get started everyone will want to have a go. These icebreakers also serve as a reminder that graphics are not about art, they are about getting a message across, and that’s something we can all do.

Have you used any of these icebreakers? Have you got any more ideas for graphic icebreakers? I’d love to hear from you. Share your comments in the box below.

And if you want to take your learning to the next level and experience some of these icebreakers in person, why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics? Check out April and September dates for 2020. More info >>