June 12, 2018 / Industry

Why brands should hold festivals

What Design Can Do is a future-focused conference. The thought provoking event is hosted annually in different cities across the globe. Our strategy team headed to Amsterdam to discover how businesses can innovate with thought-provoking design that resonates with challenges of our time.

Conversations were consistently steered towards using creativity as a catalyst to find solutions for the environment, sustainability and inspiring community-living.

‘Festivals as Testing Grounds’ was a workshop hosted by Innovfest. The aim was to consider how festivals can be a catalyst for innovation in design and drive behavioural change. A resounding sentiment surrounding the festival was the idea that creativity can transform the world. This DNA is at the heart of brands. We digest how brands can look to festivals to deliver meaningful experiences with consumers

Communities based on shared value

Founders of ‘Into The Great Wide Open’ believe that festivals cater to people who share the same values through art, music and pop culture. Most specifically, they seek to bring people together who are aligned with their vision of how to shape the future. The non-profit foundation is led by a team of creatives who seek to be a driving force within sustainability. Each part of the festival is designed to inspire people to reflect upon how they can practice a more sustainable way of living. Perhaps most importantly, ‘The Great Wide Open’ is deliberately designed to feel intimate in order to create a real sense of community.

This is interesting to note as Events Company Skiddle published that 68% of people prefer to attend smaller and more intimate music festival in contrast to larger events. With this knowledge, the rise of boutique festivals is an opportunity for brands.

Empathy-driven environments

On the subject of creating intimacy. The ability of festivals to generate change is due to the fact that they rely on soft power. In 2017, The Guardian published that nearly half of the UK population are non-religious. Last year, Pew Research documented the rise of Americans who are ‘spiritual but not religious’ with 35% of millennials considering themselves religiously unaffiliated. With this decline, people have lost the sense of community and connection that is associated with religion.

This brings us to the question, if the world is becoming less religious, how do societies and communities ascertain value?

In order to fill this gap, Sjoerd Boostma, the Cultural Producer and Programme Manager at LabLWD argued that we must create and use art in order to bring value into people’s lives.

Through an art-driven festival format, Boostma achieves this through the creation of Leeuwarden Fryslan. As such, brands have the capacity to use art and culture to foster a wider sense of meaning.

Product Testing

90% of new businesses fail – not because of a lack of ideas or technology, but due to failure to test them with an audience to see if behavioural change can be achieved. A key insight from the What Design Can Do workshop was that people are open for new experiences within a festival setting. True to this knowledge, Innovfest brings businesses into a festival format so entrepreneurs can gain vital feedback in an environment that is fun and engaging.

Moving forward, we can turn to the likes of Lululemon and Lush for inspiration. Both brands have created festivals focused on values that lie at the heart of their philosophy but also connect with their consumers. Most importantly, these experiences focus on empathetic engagement and creating community-driven spaces.

Key Takeaways

Get experiential. Embrace festival formats to serve as a platform for research and development surrounding product ideas and creation.

Consider the role of scale. Bring your tribe together. Foster intimacy by delivering meaningful experiences that are shaped by shared values.

Culture connects. Engage with your audience through creativity and art-inspired content

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