By: Lisa Slagle, Founder & Creative Director
Hi! Lisa here from Wheelie Creative, giving you industry insights from an agency owner who lives in the space where creativity meets the wild.
I’ve actually been thinking about creativity a lot. On June 23 at 9:30am MST, I’m hosting a free webinar about leveraging creativity in the outdoor industry, and you can register for that HERE. As I’ve been sitting on the porch of my cabin in the woods of Montana, writing the content and designing the visuals for this webinar, I realized two things:
1. Creativity is a reaction— it exists when a challenge occurs and someone needs to invent their way into a solution. Neurologically, creativity is sparked from pandemonium within the brain, i.e. You are forced to think of something in a new way. Creativity is born to solve problems. It exists out of necessity.
2. As an outdoor industry enthusiast, wholeheartedly dedicated to this amazing culture, I can call it out. I’m going to go there, and say something bold: The outdoor industry is a celebration of the completely unnecessary.
There, I said it. The outdoor industry is not a hospital or a farm or a ranch. We’re not saving lives. But we are living them.
For some groups, it is necessary to travel through extreme conditions, but for the recreationalist, everything we do outside is actually— from a practical standpoint—completely unnecessary. You don’t have to ride your bike to the top of that mountain. You don’t have to jump off that cliff on your skis. You and your buddies don’t have to float that river. But you do these things because they’re fun, and life would be uneventful without them. This always seems to come up when our friends die in avalanches. There’s always a curmudgeon who painfully points out that, “He didn’t need to die. He didn’t have to be in that situation to begin with.” And we stare at that person incredulously with whitening knuckles and reddening faces because part of them is right, but the other part of them clearly doesn’t get it: The outdoor industry gives us something to live for. We love the unnecessary. The outdoor industry allows us to celebrate it.
Therefore, outdoor brands encounter a really interesting dynamic:
If creativity is born from necessity, and the outdoor industry exists to celebrate the unnecessary, how can brands bring these two worlds together in a way that makes sense?
Attend my upcoming webinar to join a more detailed conversation around this topic, but for now, I’ll leave you with this teaser:
1. First, outdoor brands should realize that we exist as a form of celebrating what makes us feel alive. This perspective should be remembered and carried through everything from our marketing to our adventures. We don’t save lives, but we live them. And there is honor in that.
Therefore, as a community, we have to stop taking ourselves so seriously. We have to stop competing for what’s not cool enough and what’s too cool and the ridiculousness of social media attention with shorter and shorter shelf lives.
2. We can use creativity to explore our brands on a bigger level. We have to understand how people interact with our products and our imagery every day, and what that means to their lives and the values they will instill in their kids’ lives. We don’t need to make our brands seem more intense or important than they actually are. We are allowed to let them play. That’s what we are all doing with gear anyway— playing. So I say, we don't just do what everyone else is doing because it worked for them. We analyze our individuality as a brand and let it go wild. We break rules. We ride our own lines. We embrace our ridiculousness and celebrate it.