Celebrations Marketing/PR

10 Companies’ SXSW Event Branding Features

March 24, 2015

Phew! SXSW 2015 has come and gone. Did you make it through?! One of my favorite things about SXSW is seeing all the ways companies present their brand. There were a lot of great, eye-catching ideas throughout the festival and I decided to compile some here. These ideas are good to keep in mind when you’re planning your next company event or any social event where you want a cohesive look and feel. Some of these ideas are not only pretty to look at but they are engaging, which to me is a step up from being Instagram-able. Take a look!

1. Hulu: logo, inspiration
At Hulu’s event, they made sure to have an attractive, picture-worthy set-up. Though I was a little confused why this pretty feature was tucked away behind a bar instead of in a prime spot for photos.


To put emphasis on their brand, Hulu used posters featuring popular shows and had TVs with a constant promo reel showing clips of shows and flashes of their name.

SXSW Hulu Posters

Attendees are bound to take photos of the live music and Hulu created an interesting and inspiring backdrop for the band.

SXSW Hulu Inspiration

2. Ipsos Girls’ Lounge: hashtag
In addition to a classy pink and white lounge set-up, Ipsos Girls’ Lounge featured their hashtag prominently around their lounge. If you want people to share the experience, this is the way to go. It’s great for attendees to connect with each other and for the brand to engage in the conversation also.

SXSW Ipsos Lounge

3. Whistle, DogVacay and iFetch; Mophie: cute live animals
For the first three companies above where the main focus is the dog, it makes obvious sense that pups would be the star of the show at the Beers and Barks party. This event had Internet-famous Tuna the Dog available for photos and puppies and dogs from local animal adoption groups available for play-time and photos. Also, a variety of brightly colored doghouses were scattered throughout the outside of the venue, which was a cute tie-in.

SXSW Puppy Party

SXSW DogVacay Whistle iFetch

Cute pups were also the draw for Mophie, a phone battery company that used St. Bernards as their mascot. At the Mophie Rescue event, there was a long line to take photos with this cute St. Bernard puppy and adult pups also roamed the streets with reps for photos and to provide batteries.

SXSW Mophie Rescue

4. McDonald’s: engaging and fun display, free food
McDonald’s got a lot of backlash before SXSW began for not offering to pay their musicians and during SXSW by other food trucks and attendees who don’t like their food or their corporate presence. Visiting their gigantic tent and display, I enjoyed the experience. The life-size, selfie-encouraging Ronald statues scattered throughout the area were fun and I watched many participate in the selfie contest.

SXSW McDonalds

5. IBM: cool design
While most of their tent was not engaging, IBM’s colorful ceiling and photo booth backdrop were wins. In fact, that’s the reason why I ended up there: I saw a photo of the ceiling on Instagram and wanted to see what it was about. (And I’m obsessed with that cool backdrop!)


6. Piquora: partner call-out
A smart feature at the Piquora Photo Factory was the partner wall. The creative and cute display was clear and colorful.

SXSW Piquora

7. NASA: photo-worthy props
Astronauts have always had a cool factor. It made absolute sense for NASA to have an astronaut prop in their expo booth and many took the opportunity to take a photo with it.


8. General Electric: live demos
At General Electrics’ Barbecue Research Center, demos were a big part of their event. In one area, scientists explained how to make the best barbecue sauce and in another area, Spun, Austin’s soon-to-be-opened liquid nitrogen ice cream shop, gave demos of how they use liquid nitrogen to make their ice cream, which ended in a taste of their barbecue combination. (The ice cream was buttermilk, the toppings were barbecue-related.)

SXSW Spun Ice Cream

9. Expo: engaging games
I didn’t catch the name of this exhibitor but their game was engaging and a fun way to get people to stop and interact with their booth.

SXSW Interactive Expo

10. SquirrelBooks: mascot
I didn’t get a photo of this but three squirrel mascots (people in costumes) with branded bright orange SquirrelBooks t-shirts roamed the SXSW area to take photos and share their brand.

Want to read more about SXSW? Check out this AdWeek article about ’10 Intriguing Things That Helped SXSW Rock Again.’

What cool branding caught your eye at SXSW?

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