Pixar has been a big part of my life for a long time. I never got hung up on Disney princesses or My Little Pony, instead I was always waiting for the next Disney/Pixar movie to come out. As I grew older, my love for animation and creativity never faded. I am proud to say that I have seen every Pixar film including “Inside Out,” Pixar’s newest film, that was released last Friday.
When I was younger, I was in complete awe with each movie that was debuted. The raw imagination and creativity they bestowed was astounding. As I grew older, I realized that they kept getting better. I’m an emotional person, but the stories and characters Pixar creates leaves me an emotional train wreck (don’t tell me you didn’t cry when Woody and the gang almost burned to death in the incinerator). Being 21, I am still in complete awe with Pixar, specifically how they have marketed themselves as the best storytellers of all time. Being a content marketer myself, I think we can all learn a thing or two from Pixar’s marketing and storytelling.
Never forget where you started.
Pixar is famous for the Easter eggs that they drop in their films. There are even theories that say all of the films take place in one universe, especially when the luxo ball and Pizza Planet truck show up in every film. More importantly, the combination of A113, which is actually the number of the animation classroom at the California Institute of the Arts where many Pixar employees start their animation career. They drop these clues to entertain the audience, but more importantly to remind themselves where they came from.
Be proud of your brand’s history, and remind yourself that you’re lucky to be there. Furthermore, it assures your readers that you take pride in being apart of your company’s culture. You may not be able to hide rubber balls and codes in your writing, but you can tip your hat to the past with a few sentences.
Keep it simple for the viewer, or reader.
Emma Coats, a former storyboard artist at Pixar, tweeted some knowledge that she picked up at Pixar: “Once upon a time there was _. Every day, _. One day _. Because of that, _. Because of that, _. Until finally _.” This is Pixar’s guideline for each film. The movie may be elaborate, but at the end of the day it can be summarized in a couple of sentences.
Use this model for “Up”. Once upon a time there was a couple in love. Every day, they promised they would go on an adventure. One day, the wife died. Because of that, the husband became a grump. Because of that, a chubby boy scout had to befriend him for a badge. Until finally, the husband got to go on the adventure and had a happy heart. It’s simple!
Your writing can be complex, but by using a simple model like the one above, it will ensure that your audience can piece together a very cut and dry summary of what they just read. It means they digested the material and took something away from the information presented to them.
Always write to answer a “What if”.
Following along with the previous tip, make sure you are always answering a question for your readers, instead of writing just to write. Below is a hilarious, but true summary of what Pixar has been doing the past 20 years.
This may be ridiculously oversimplified, but, it has a point. You can read each descriptor above, and know what movie they are talking about. That is incredible. Take a hint from Pixar and keep your writing concise by answering a “what if” question. If you are writing to answer a question, you will leave your readers satisfied instead of feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.
Another piece of advice that Emma Coats had was to know your end before figuring out the middle. This whole-heartedly applies to the content marketing world. What is the purpose for this writing piece or this project, in general? What does my client want as the end goal by the time I finish their content? If you know the end game, filling in the blanks is easy. Each Pixar film has a happy ending, make sure your writing does, too!
Strive to be better, even if you’re already the king of the world.
If I haven’t made it clear, Pixar is the king of storytelling. Other studios wait and see what Pixar will be releasing, then follow in their footsteps. But, even the best strive to make themselves better. When Pixar released Monsters University in 2013, they decided to go with a brand new marketing tactic that was much more interactive than watching a trailer. They created an entire website for the university. It is loaded with campus history, buyable game day gear, and classes that are offered at Monsters U. Side note: It is much more user-friendly than the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s, my university. Pixar took a chance with it, and it was a colossal hit.
Pixar created this website entirely for their audience. They knew marketing and advertising was shifting to the Internet, so they went with it and created something as innovative as their movies.
If you think you are at the top of your game, I promise you there is always room to improve. Think outside of the box, think like Pixar. If your business thinks they can’t do any better, think again. Challenge yourself and wow your audiences. If Pixar can outdo themselves, then you can too!