5 Marketing lessons I picked up from Pixar’s Inside Out

5 Marketing lessons I picked up from Pixar’s Inside Out

  • Spoiler Alert: this articles contains spoilers if you haven't seen the movie Inside Out yet.

​Last weekend I finally went to the movies with my girlfriend to watch Pixar’s Inside Out. I’ve been a big Pixar fan ever since Monster’s Inc. came out, so I was really looking forward to see it. We sit down, the lights dim and the projector start playing: Meet Riley...

With my best movie voice:

"Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school."Storyline Inside Out on IMDb

During my ride on the roller coaster that’s called Riley’s life I picked up 5 marketing lessons l that you should think about when you’re working on your (re)brand.​

The 5 marketing lessons:

  1. Always give something extra
  2. Clients have emotions —know them, sooth them and connect with them.
  3. Islands of Personality —find out about the different aspects of your clients’ personality.
  4. Imagination Land —go there and go there often. It’s where your ideas come from.
  5. Try new things and make mistakes to learn.


Pixar always gives us something extra. With Inside Out they gave us the short film Lava —a love story of two volcanoes. It’s always something unexpected that adds value to the experience.

In your own business, is there something you can give to your clients? Something that’s unexpected? Something they’ll find interesting and valuable?


"Do you ever look at someone and wonder,
what is going on inside their head?"

Riley is guided by her emotions —Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, and so are we. To be able to make a connection with your clients, you need to get to know them. Find out what keeps them up at night and empathise with them. Show them you know what they’re going through and build that connection.

Do you know what you’re clients struggle with? And do you understand and share their feelings?


|Atelier Pan| Inside Out |

Image: Behind-the-Scenes First Look at 'Inside Out,' INSIDE Pixar Headquarters!

The Islands of Personality are locations in Inside Out inside Riley’s Mind. They represent the different aspects of Riley’s personality that define her as a person. Each island is connected to a core memory —each came from a super important time in Riley’s life.

​If you think about it, can you find out about 5 Islands of Personality of your clients? Can you think of 5 different aspects that make up their personality?


In Riley’s mind this looks like a theme park with all kinds of attractions. This is where all the magic happens. There’s French Fry Forest, Trophy Town and even an Imaginary Boyfriend Generator that can generate different models of ‘ideal’ boys. We all have our own Imagination Land —at least we used to as kids. When we get older we tend to forget about this wonderful and inspirational place.

Try to find your Imagination Land again. Then go there and go there often. It’s where your ideas come from.


Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong, Joy and Sadness are about to walk in Abstract Thought. The door says: “Danger: Keep out!” They decide to go in anyway and things get ugly really fast. In a matter of minutes their 3D form is made 2D and they’re about to be completely deconstructed. Sadness, however, takes advantage of their new 2D state and sees things from another perspective that helps them escape, just in the nick of time.

Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective. Just get out there and try new things. Make mistakes. Fall on your face and get up again (very important)! It’s how you learn and move forward.



|Atelier Pan| Inside Out|

Image: The Psychology of Inside Out: A Beautiful Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

After escaping Abstract Thought Bing Bong is sad. He screwed up the shortcut to the Train of Thought and Riley has forgotten him. Joy tried to lift his spirit by telling him happy stories, but that only made him more sad. Then something happened. Sadness approached him and listened to him. He talks about all the things that make him sad and starts to feel better. He just needed a shoulder to cry on and someone who was willing to listen. “How did you do that?” asks Joy with disbelief. And Sadness replies —“Well he seemed kind of sad, so I listened.”

​Sometimes all we need is a listening ear. Your clients as well. There’s so much they’d like to share, but they’re afraid to. Let them open up and listen —without judgement. How well do you listen to your clients?

With pleasure,


Atelier Pan | Visual Identities for Change makers

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