Five lessons creatives can take from the Olympics

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dimitri Soloviev competing in the ice dance competition

Dancing with the stars
Getty Images

The party in Sochi may be over but the lessons and memories linger on—for creatives, no less than athletes. Herewith, some inspiration to take from the 2014 Winter Games.

1. Learn from the best. Study not just the best brands (and programs), but the creative teams (and performers) that bring them to life. Deconstruct their work and see how they think and what you can adopt, build on and make your own.

2. Perfect your craft. Sounds obvious but you don’t become an Olympian contender overnight. Push yourself to go further and do more. Refine your skills and never think you’ve reached the end of your training because you haven’t. Take advantage of webinars, read the trades and creative annuals, attend conferences. You’ll meet people and expand your horizons, all of which makes you more receptive to new thinking—and creating.

3. Dig deep. We live and die on the creative brief. But that’s just the beginning of the creative journey. Whatever you’re working on, become an expert. Study the product, the category, the marketing landscape. Get to know the target on a first-name basis—their hopes, fears, dreams, pain. Muscle memory is not just for athletes. When you know something in your bones and in your heart, you escape the conventional and open your work to new and better ways to communicate and engage.

4. Don’t settle. There’s more to creative exploration than online photo research. Get out there and exercise your right brain. Art, like chance, favors the prepared mind so give yourself regular cultural workouts and see how they can enrich your storytelling and the emotional connections you build between your brand and your audience.

5. Be a good sport. The creative director shot down your idea? The client hates it? Get up. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Citius, altius, fortius. Or as they say in Sochi: “Hot. Cool. Yours.”


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