If you’ve read any of our interviews with filmmakers from Sundance, watched any of the videos from The Way We Work TED series, or seen an influencer endorsing Dropbox on social media channels, it’s in large part thanks to our Influencer Partnerships team at Dropbox. Comprised of a small but mighty team of two, Liz Armistead and Mariko Funai’s work focuses on getting the Dropbox brand message out through large scale brand partnerships and the voices of our most influential users in music, film, fashion, science, business, art, design (and more). Not only do these partnerships help highlight creative work, they also help build community. We talked to Armistead and Funai about the process behind forming these partnerships, the impact of these partnerships on the various creative communities, and the new website that showcases all this work.
Q: Your team started with an experiment based on a hypothesis about filmmakers. Tell me more about that.
A: We’ve been a formal team for about three-and-a-half years, but our first brand sponsorship was executed in 2015 at the Toronto Film Festival. That program was based on the hypothesis that filmmakers who work on distributed teams with very large files have strong stories to tell about using Dropbox. Reception was overwhelmingly positive, so we began looking at sponsorships and activations that engaged other influential users in film as well as music, fashion, art, and design. This quickly turned into a formal influencer marketing program aimed at working with important external voices to tell our story and also as a byproduct, it formed a community for creatives to come together.
Q: What is the process for forming these partnerships? Are there specific criteria or qualities you look for?
A: The process varies greatly as we custom-build every program. Some influencers and brands reach out to us proactively, while others we seek out. Some (like Sundance and TED) have been partners for many years and we continue to work with them, building on what we’ve learned and improving on our programs year after year. We have specific criteria for selecting the people and teams we work with, and we have a significant focus on diversity. We’re curating public advocates for Dropbox, and we need to ensure that the people we highlight are representative of our diverse user base and our values as a company.
Q: Do you have a favorite group or individual you’ve worked with?
A: That’s a difficult question. There are so many! The Solange Getty project was really cool because of its scale. Bringing together a multi-talented artist like Solange and a world-renowned cultural institution like the Getty was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Lux Prima video was a really amazing piece of content because it was so beautifully shot, and I love the story behind that project. And the TED content is always really strong and closely aligned to what our brand stands for. They’re all incredible projects to be a part of, because you get to work with people who are genuinely excited to be working with Dropbox. You get to tell an authentic story of how Dropbox enables them to collaborate and do great work, while also supporting their work and cause.
Q: What’s something most people don’t know about your job?
A: I think a lot of people assume the content we create is very scripted, when in fact it’s really the influencer’s vision. We’ll review to make sure the Dropbox product is described accurately, but the collaboration stories and the narrative are conceived and executed by the influencers themselves. These are true accounts of how they’re leveraging Dropbox in their work.
Q: Tell us about the new Brand Partners website that just launched. Why did we create it and what will people be able to see on it?
A: We wanted to give people a sense of the work we do and the types of partnerships we engage in, but we also wanted to highlight and show appreciation for the incredible work of our brand partners. This site serves as a hub for customer stories about our most influential users. By bringing all this work together, we’re hoping people can see connections between how a very diverse group of creatives do their work. Check it out!
Q: It’s very visually exciting. What work went into building it?
A: It really took a village. Over the course of several months, we worked closely with our in-house Brand Studio team to come up with the design and IT services on the execution. We had a lot of creative freedom to make each project come to life in a unique way on the site and we’re really happy with the way it turned out.
Q: What do you hope is the impact of the work your team does on both Dropbox and the larger community?
A: For the company, our goal is to build a group of advocates for Dropbox and help those influencers show their own communities how they use our product. These people already use and love Dropbox and their enthusiasm is infectious. When we help partners better leverage our products, they are able to work and collaborate more effectively and spend more of their time making amazing work. But at a broader level, our goal is to bridge the gap between tech and the creative, science, and entrepreneurial industries. We want to highlight and support the work that our partners do and help create a broader community where people can share ideas and be inspired by each other.