SXSW 2010 Launches Today: Best-In-Class Lifestyle Brand

in Branding | by Ethan Lyon

“The early adopters among you are likely to notice…” writes SXSW in a blog post dissecting their new iPhone app. Yes, early adopters are taking notice and descending upon the Mecca of Indie Creative Geek festivals, SXSW. The part conference part festival, which starts in Austin, TX today, gathers underground artists and entrepreneurs to explore the latest sounds, reels and business ideas from across the globe. By assembling the most cutting edge artists and entrepreneurs, SXSW has become a destination and a real-life community for emerging artists with a single passion: discovery.

SXSW is a best-in-class example of community immersion: 1) understand users passion and 2) inspire through communications and experience. The red thread that ties SXSW’s music, film, gaming and entrepreneurship festival is undiscovered gems. Although there are over 2,000 artists playing in more than 80 venues around Austin, it’d be tough for your typical music, film or tech joe schmoe to pick out even a handful of artists or companies they recognize.

Like SXSW, Gawker has built a loyal following by connecting with a user mindset. Gawker, the most valuable blog network (valued at $300 million), targets specific psychographics. Specifically, Gawker appeals to the Beta people who thrive on the latest trends from technology to fashion to pop culture. These tech and fashion aficionados live for the latest Alexander McQueen or Gucci fashions, and were the first to get Droid. The blog network leverages its distinct, edgy editorial voice to speak to this audience mindset through multiple channels — from celebrity gossip to a sarcastic look at sports.

Understanding your user’s passion is the easy part. Activating that passion with unique experiences and inspired communications is the way to really stand out. In the case of South by Southwest, they are appealing to urban artists who embrace and express the diversity of their lives in creative ways. The SXSW iPhone app parallels the Creative Geek’s right-brain personality; its clean, Indie design (think hand-drawn robots) is in-line with other Creative Geek platforms, such as Tumblr, Wired and Boing Boing; SXSW’s tag line, “Tomorrow happens here” speaks to the audience’s forward thinking, spirit in music, film and business; its Facebook page has over 50,000 fans and features the festival’s “playlist” in the My LP33 FBML tab — not to mention SXSW typically overloads Twitter.

Successful lifestyle brands, such as SXSW and Gawker, speak not to age, sex or location (the world isn’t like the first chat rooms!); they engage a mindset with authentic personality. Both brands identify a community of users and engage them with memorable experiences across multiple channels: festivals, conferences, blogs, twitter. Gawker is the place for voyeuristic readers and SXSW is the place for Creative Geek fans.