George Lois made his name as an “agent provocateur,” creating and selling “big ideas” that changed the way we looked at advertising— and the world. Best remembered for his provocative covers for Esquire Magazine, he was also the creative heart and soul behind such groundbreaking campaigns as VW, MTV and the Four Seasons Restaurant. Herewith, some tips from his new book, Damn Good Advice, on how to “unleash your creative potential.”
– The word comes first, then the visual. (As a writer, I totally agree!) Great ideas start with words that “bristle with visual possibilities…and lead to words and images working in perfect synergy.”
– Think long, write short. Edit ruthlessly. “It’s not how short you make it; it’s how you make it short.”
– A trend is a trap. Don’t be derivative. Re-invent, re-imagine, re-new.
– A big idea can perform a marketing miracle. Even today, with social media yammering in our ears, it’s the idea that drives awareness and action.
– Teamwork does not create the big idea. Nor does research. You can’t focus-group yourself into creativity. It comes from within. Teamwork comes later—when you’re refining and producing what you’ve created…alone.
– To create great work, you need 1% inspiration, 9% perspiration, 90% justification. In short, you’ve got to sell the idea.
– A brand name can be a brilliant idea. (But it must be strategic.)
– Make your surroundings a metaphor of who you are. Where you work is as important as what you create. Let your workspace inspire you.
– If you don’t believe that advertising can be icon rather than con, you’ll never understand the potential of great creativity…” to move the world as well as sales.
George Lois has been called (derivatively) one of the original Mad Men. You’ll call him enlightening, bracing, a genius.