Reflecting on the Future of Brand Engagement at SXSW Sydney

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to be a panellist at the debut of SXSW Sydney. Joined by an inspiring line-up that included Gareth Leeding from Livewire and Mick Carr from Grub Labs, we dived deep into the evolution of interactive game entertainment and its impact on brand engagement. The week was electrifying, with senior management from No Standing, Arthaos, and Reale connecting with some of the brightest minds across sectors like music, tech, gaming, and innovation.

Making Brands Playable

Gareth Leeding of Livewire made a statement that perfectly encapsulates where we’re heading: “the goal is to make brands playable.” This resonates deeply with the projects we’ve been tackling at No Standing, where the focus has increasingly been on infusing playability into brand experiences. In today’s highly interactive digital landscape, merely presenting a brand isn’t sufficient. We need to make them interactive, customisable, and even gamified to truly engage with a younger, tech-savvy audience.

Enhancing Family Experience Through AR

Mick Carr’s work at Grub Labs aims at augmenting family experiences in restaurants through AR designed for kids. Rather than having children disengaged, scrolling on their phones, Mick sees an opportunity to use AR to make the family dining experience interactive and memorable. This perspective mirrors the multi-generational engagement strategies we’ve been advocating for, leveraging emerging tech to transform mundane experiences into shared family memories.

Key Takeaways

  1. Rewards and Loyalty Programs: Brands have an untapped potential to use game mechanics to incentivise community interaction. At No Standing, we’ve begun to explore blockchain and NFTs as tools for unique and verifiable rewards.
  2. Community Platforms: Discord began as a gaming platform and has morphed into a vital channel for brand-to-consumer communication. We recently launched and now manage FC Barcelona’s Discord server, proving that a gamer-first platform can be an excellent community platform for brands.
  3. Music x Gaming: Emerging tech like AR is allowing brands to combine music and gaming in unprecedented ways, increasing ticket sales and creating a richer, multi-sensory experience for fans.

SXSW Sydney’s debut has set a new standard for what industry conferences can and should be—dynamic, insightful, and future-focused. As we move forward, the imperative is clear: we must keep pushing the boundaries, continue exploring the vast potential of new technologies, and keep the dialogue going. The future of brand engagement is interactive, and the game has only just begun.

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