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Taking the show on the road: Bringing persona-lity to SXSW

SXSW personas
16 March 2023
Sean Bruce

When it comes to massive multimedia festivals that encompass the arts, technology, and a good old-fashioned cultural bender, few compare to Austin’s South by Southwest.

The festival is a nine-day deluge of music, film, interactive art, and tech. And as a company that values all things creativity and technology, we had to find a way to take part in the festivities. So we cracked out the checkbook and signed up to sponsor the Interactive Opening Party. And boy, did we have a blast.

This year’s lineup included huge names like comedians Eric Andre and Chelsea Handler, music acts like Armani White and Balming Tiger, and impressive sponsors (and favorite customers of ours) Volkswagen and Porsche.

We know, we know—it’s hard to compete with such amazing names. But still, we brought our best selves to the opening night and kicked off the festival in style.

The scene from above.
The scene from above.

To give SXSW festivalgoers a little taste of the research and design world, we built a 15-foot mural of playful personas. Because the host city’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” we thought it would be fun to celebrate the wonderfully offbeat SXSW denizens by bringing them to life with a twist on our usual Dovetail art style.

Our SXSW personas brought to life by our amazing Art Director Tia Alisha.
Our SXSW personas brought to life by our amazing Art Director Tia Alisha.

And because we’re all about empowering people to research in all manner of ways and methods, we brought physical Dovetail tags to life and allowed people to tag themselves.

Ever wondered what a Dovetail tag looks like in real life? Wonder no more.
Ever wondered what a Dovetail tag looks like in real life? Wonder no more.

Of course, the heart of good personas is real customer data—so we sourced ours from quick interviews with Dovetailers who had attended and backed up our assumptions with secondary research we found in and around the old SXSW archives. Though we followed this very rigorous approach, we wouldn’t advise using these personas for anything other than kicking off a party. (Though if you really want to, our brand team set up this tagboard in the Dovetail Community so you can give it a try).

If you were lucky enough to attend, give us a yell and let us know what you thought of our mural. And if you didn’t—never fear, we captured some of the highlights for your viewing pleasure right here.

This fantastic DJ brought the vibes. He did not, however, play Darude Sandstorm, no matter how many times it was requested.

This partygoer showing us how it’s done with some unintentional product placement.

Tag, you’re it. These folks making good use of the IRL Dovetail tags.

To everyone we worked with—thank you for helping bring this to life! We can’t wait to do it again even bigger and better next year.

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