Pixar's Toy Story 3 – A Lesson in Creating Authentic Brand Heritage

Heritage is great thing for a brand to have, it endows the brand with a believability and reality that’s nearly impossible to fake. When creating a brand we always try to create a brand story, it’s the first step in generating a heritage. A good brand story doesn’t have to be real, but it does have to be authentic, what’s the difference you may ask?

Lots-o'-Hugging BEAR

A brand, at a fundamental level, is an emotional response, it relies on an audience’s positive emotional response to be successful. Reality isn’t the issue here, believability is. Craft your brand story well and the audience will go along for the ride, knowing full well it’s not real, but happy, because they have faith in the brand.

Here’s a great practical example I came across during the week: Pixar has created a viral campaign using 80’s style toy ads for a new character from Toy Story 3. Now Lots-0′-Huggin’ Bear never existed in the 80’s, it’s not real. But that doesn’t matter because it rings true, it feels right, looks right, smells right, so what if it’s not real. Because of the intelligent and playful way it’s being used we give the brand permission to make it up. It plays with our memories of real 80’s toy ads, and creates an authentic heritage for us to believe in. It’s an instant authentic brand heritage for a new Pixar character.

Here’s the ad:

and a Japanese version:

Authenticity is a keystone of brand building. If you’d like to hear our ideas of creating an authentic heritage for you brand give us a call.

Derek Carroll
Director of Design


  1. Nice Post. Brands like Apple and the big film studios are becoming masters at creating brandticipation – an excited level of anticipation prior to the release of a new product or film. This is a great example of how when it’s done well, brandticipation can go viral. Very cool.

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