10 things ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ teaches about work in a creative agency

What creative agencies can learn from movies like Star Wars
Obi-Wan has taught you well.

For someone who grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy, that galaxy far far away still remains a treasure trove of inspiration.  

While you might not get to handle the PR of a mining startup in the clouds or have a bald android assistant, there’s a lot someone in a creative agency can learn from the Star Wars saga. Here are some great takeaways from Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

1. Create prototypes and test

Much like Chewbacca and his reassembly of C3PO, a lot of trial and error goes into putting a minimum viable product together – let alone a fully realized concept. Especially creatives and developers need to keep testing their ideas and thinking of alternatives to make them work. 

2. Roll with the punches

Sudden changes in client briefs and project scopes are frustrating, but sometimes all you can do is try and make the best of it. Clients might alter the deal. Pray, they don’t alter it any further. 

3. Get into your audience’s mindset

Thinking outside the box is as much of a prerequisite to a creative in an agency as it is to a bounty hunter chasing after traitors to the Empire. To succeed, you need to understand how your target audience works and thinks. Sometimes this means a deep dive into analytics, other times hiding away in a flood of space garbage. 

4. Trust your instincts

The odds of successfully navigating through an asteroid field aren’t that great. But while you should always be able to support your ideas with concrete data, sometimes going by your gut can give you a leg up on the competition. No amount of stats help if the campaign doesn’t resonate on an emotional level. Search your feelings.

5. Hiring a freelancer can pay off

Client leads often dislike extra costs, like hiring freelancers to do the work in-house staff should do. However, a fresh pair of eyes can help in taking a project to the next level (see #3 and space garbage). Just prepare to dish out proper compensation. 

6. Take your time

Luke Skywalker can’t handle the pitch.

Anyone working in a creative agency knows how hectic it can get. But getting burnout due to busy schedules, pitches falling through or conflicts within the team just isn’t worth it. Know when to remove yourself from a bad situation and take your time to process feedback. But if you’re planning to jump down a chute 100 stories below you, aim carefully. 

7. Work with the latest innovations

From carbon-freezing to AR, keeping track of trends and the latest innovations is key to maintaining your image as an expert. And whenever you have the chance to include probe droids drones in your campaign, DO IT. 

8. The importance of transparency

Obi-Wan had a great influence on Luke from the start. But it wasn’t until he appeared on Hoth with instructions to find Yoda that Skywalker truly started his Jedi training. While clients or bosses probably don’t know how to appear as mirages, they should strive to be more transparent in order to communicate effectively.

9. Enjoy any ride

Let’s face it – sometimes a project just stinks. But just like a smelly Tauntaun, even that not-so-favorite client can take you places and even save your business. Avoid slicing their guts out, though.

10. Know your strengths

Of course, no Star Wars list would be complete without a lesson from Yoda. But there’s more than just “do or do not” to his teachings. Others might judge you without knowing what you’re actually capable of. Remember to focus your energy and use your strengths to pull off incredible feats. 

And of course, never forget that no matter if you’re a creative or an HR specialist, luminous beings are we.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse

Happy Star Wars Day!

You’ll find plenty of Star Wars tributes on this website, but they are all in Finnish. I’m currently looking for a protocol droid to get everything translated.

Until then, here’s my proposal on the optimal viewing order for the live-action Star Wars films.

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