When Derek Jeter and a team of creatives set out to build The Players’ Tribune, they wanted their content to feel different from what fans could get anywhere else. A huge part of this, of course, was the brand’s visual identity.
The recently retired Yankees shortstop and Creative Director Maureen Cavanagh brought on Nate Gordon, who had worked with Maureen at Sports Illustrated, to help craft the look of The Players’ Tribune. With the brand’s focus on first-person storytelling, they knew their visuals had to be honest, authentic and intimate. Rather than painting the athletes as heroes, they showed them as real people.
“When we hit it right, our content travels far and wide, because it’s not something you find elsewhere,” says Nate.
Watch the video of Nate’s talk from The PhotoShelter Summit for Brands to get a behind the scenes look at TPT’s innovative visual content strategy, and to see how Nate brings the lessons of his mentors to life through the brand’s visual storytelling.
3 Keys to Innovation
The PhotoShelter Summit for Brands was all about the power of a moment, and at the end of his talk, Nate shared how he puts his team in a position to respond when the moment strikes:
“I think the key to innovation is creating safe and nurturing environments for people to seize the moment, challenge themselves, take risks and think big. I like to think that we’ve created that environment at TPT.”
He and his team have been able to build this environment thanks to the lessons of three of his mentors, V.J. Lovero, Brad Mangin, and Maureen Cavanagh. Watch the video and take a look at the lessons below to inspire your own creative strategy.
1. Treat the athletes as partners in the process.
Early in his career, Nate was inspired by celebrated Sports Illustrated photographer V.J. Lovero. V.J.’s love of the game allowed him to make real connections with the players. He treated them as friends rather than celebrities. He captured them as real people, and taught Nate to see them as partners.
No matter who you’re covering – sports stars, college students, artists, healthcare patients – strive to make genuine connections, and your story will be far more authentic and personal.
2. You have to take risks and embrace new things if you want to grow visually.
In 2012, legendary sports photographer Brad Mangin encouraged Nate to launch an Instagram account at Sports Illustrated. Despite significant pushback internally and externally, Nate took the risk, and Sports Illustrated was one of the first brands on Instagram.
Taking creative risks can be scary, but the pros outweigh the cons when you can seize a new opportunity.
3. In this business, you have to swing for the fences.
Maureen Cavanagh taught Nate that when you get the opportunity to do something big, you have to take it. Joining the prototype of The Players’ Tribune was a leap of faith – and a leap worth taking.
“The only way to keep creative people engaged and excited is to constantly put them outside of their comfort zones,” says Nate.
As a creative, seek out opportunities that push you to try something new.
Want to hear more stories of incredible creative people? Check out all of the talks from The PhotoShelter Summit for Brands on-demand. Plus, join our new creative community on Slack to network, share ideas and get inspiration from other creative people!