GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

This is the third of a three-part series about key learnings from this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) 2023 technology conference from our colleagues Becky Cole and Adrienne Schafer. 

At this year’s SXSW, one compelling theme resonated across numerous sessions: the pursuit of genuine content and immersive experiences. The dialogue moved away from simply discussing content creation to delving deeper into how brands can cultivate authenticity and craft tailor-made experiences for their audience. Disney Parks, Experiences & Products Chairman, Josh D’Amaro, eloquently captured the essence of this theme by asserting that authenticity is anchored in three fundamental pillars: masterful storytelling, unbridled creativity, and the heartfelt pursuit of spreading joy. 

The Key to Authentic Storytelling 

To authentically tell a story, the story must come alive from the very start. There must be an element of surprise that includes an immersive and shared experience. Authentic storytelling lets the end user forget about everything else going on and disconnect from the outside noise. Brands must think about sight, sound, texture and smell, etc. Upon entering a Disney park, most users can describe the same experience. The 3D sight, the smell of churros, the texture of the walkway to the castle. Every little part is authentic to the experience.  

Enrich Immersive Brand Experiences with Technology 

The fusion of science and art holds immense potential for driving creativity. AI, rather than replacing reality, offers a remarkable avenue to enrich it. Disneyland, for instance, is not designed to be enjoyed through a VR headset at home; instead, technology presents a unique opportunity to elevate the in-person experience. Disney employs cutting-edge innovations for personalized interactions with characters, robots soaring 50 feet above the ground and the breathtaking visual effects of wielding a lightsaber in real life. By seamlessly integrating technology with authentic, creative experiences, Disney weaves a story that many consider nothing short of magical. 

Create Happiness: The Cornerstone of Strong Brand Relationships 

Research indicates that your brain remembers happy memories more clearly. People want more happiness in their lives and brands need to create a connection with customers that creates that happiness. Brands need to show up with a customer-first approach and stop trying to “just sell.” 

So how can brands leverage authenticity and show up for their customers? Tap into imagination, optimization and inspiration. Look for opportunities in plain sight to be authentic. Doing one thing really well is never a bad strategy; so, stop trying to be everything to everyone. Attention is a finite resource in today’s fast-paced world, it is crucial to capitalize on each interaction as a chance to reinforce the public’s affection for your brand. Pursuing authenticity through these principles will enable your brand to create lasting, meaningful connections with your audience. 

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