Photo of live mural in progress at SXSW 2018

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6 key takeaways from SXSW 2018


Published on March 19, 2018

Over the past week at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, we’ve had the chance to hear experts weigh in on topics ranging from brand innovation to the future of work to evolving business models and next generation customers.

We also got to watch creative energy and collaboration in action, as teams of artists co-created live murals, each one spotlighting a different cause. Here are a few highlights and takeaways from our week in Austin.

1. Mind-blowing murals can be created in only 9 hours

For three straight days, we witnessed these gifted duos join forces to showcase their activism through art. They began and finished their co-creations in nine-hour painting marathons, each in service of a different cause-driven theme. Shawna X and Rachell Sumpter reimagined the future. Ben Sanders and Maxwell McMaster explored environmentalism. And Stacey Rozich and Matt Leines took inspiration from the fight for human rights. Check out this video to see how it all came together.  

2. Dropbox Paper helped make those collaborations faster and easier

In her Brand Innovators interview, Shane Steele, our Head of Global Brand Marketing at Dropbox, explained how we’re using the live mural activation as an opportunity to tell the story of creative energy. “We're here at SXSW because you all in this room are the superusers of Dropbox. It's the people who are the creators, the inventors, the collaborators that work cross functionally,” said Shane. “We want to tell that story of creative energy at SXSW. One component of that story is this idea of co-creation, bringing together unexpected collaborators to create something.” “Everything that's coming to life on these murals actually started in Dropbox Paper,” said Shane. “These artists were doing early sketches, collaborating back and forth. There was a conversation happening in Paper leading up to what's happening right now.”

Create and share early ideas with your team in Dropbox Paper

3. There’s growing interest in collaboration tools that reduce “work about work.”

When asked about the rationale for our recent rebranding campaign, Shane said, “The company has gone through a massive evolution over the past 10 years. It used to be this idea of your files in sync. Now it's all about this idea of teams in sync. In addition to the new look and feel of the brand, we also had a new story to tell. We wanted to provoke a conversation and plant a seed around this new idea of creative energy.”

“So much about work these days sort of drains us. Our mission is to unleash more creative energy by facilitating work, so it's easier, so we can stay in flow.”—Shane Steele, Head of Global Brand Marketing at Dropbox

4. Visible representation matters

Taking part in the panel on Supporting Women in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Through Public Policy, Angela Roseboro, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Dropbox, spoke about the need for emerging companies to create opportunities and develop a culture of diversity that candidates can see. “As you’re building your company, you have an opportunity to make diversity and inclusion a part of your DNA. It becomes the way you do business and not a separate initiative,” said Angela. “If I’m going to go to a company, seeing someone like me says, ‘Okay, I can be here.’ ”

“As you’re hiring leaders, visible representation matters.”—Angela Roseboro, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Dropbox

5. The buying power of Gen Z is expected to quickly outpace Millennials

Liz Armistead, Head of Brand and Influencer Partnerships at Dropbox, joined the panel on Evolving Business Models: Finding Next Gen Customers to discuss how brands are evolving their digital strategies to earn and keep the loyalty of Gen Z customers. Commenting on the way Dropbox plans to inspire a market of future customers, Liz said, “We’re lucky because we have a ton of amazing non-profit customers that are saving lives and changing the world with the help of our products. We make it a priority to share those stories and bring awareness to their missions.”

“One of the things I really admire about Gen Z (and millennials) is their demand for brands to be socially responsible. 79% said they would engage with a brand that could help them make a difference.”—Liz Armistead, Head of Brand and Influencer Partnerships at Dropbox

6. All new ideas evolve out of the old

You may have heard the old adage that “there’s no such thing as an original idea.” At the session titled Runaway Species: How Creativity Remakes the World, our Head of Brand Marketing, Jessica English learned why. Author and neuroscientist David Eagleman and composer Anthony Brandt noted that ideas evolve by bending (e.g. variations on original creations), breaking (e.g. digital pixelation), and blending (e.g. music mash-ups). “I thought it was interesting that the science and technology innovation or evolution examples used were all defined as ‘creativity.’ This reinforces our larger application of 'creative energy,' ” said Jessica.

“Creative energy is not just for creatives. It’s innate in all of us, given this insatiable need to evolve the original. The human instinct is to ‘tune-out’ sameness and repetition.”—Jessica English, Head of Brand Marketing at Dropbox

Being surrounded by cause-driven artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, and creative problem solvers makes us feel re-energized and re-committed to the causes brought to life in the murals. And we plan to keep it flowing in the weeks and months to come. To see where we’re headed next, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The easiest way to create and share early ideas, together | Check out Dropbox Paper
The easiest way to create and share early ideas, together | Check out Dropbox Paper