Remember when you heard that all new action movies would have to be 3D to succeed? Then along came Deadpool, crushing all of the competition with a $300 Million opening weekend that broke several box office records. The “Merc With A Mouth” did it without one single 3D frame. Deadpool has proved that a movie can succeed without anyone needing to put on glasses to join in on the R rated fun. There is a valuable lesson here.
Just as 3D was the next big thing some years ago, VR has re-emerged as a game changer when it comes to moviemaking, game development…and marketing. As a marketer, you may be asking yourself how you can successfully use VR in your business. First off, you need to ask yourself about the differences it can make to your business, rather than sticking with your current marketing activities. What impact will it have on the brand? How will it change how you engage customers? How will it be different to how you currently deliver the brand experience? And how do you ensure that what you deliver differs from what other marketers are planning to offer?
The Good, The Bad And The Headless Copies
There are already some great examples of how VR is being used for marketing purposes. I could name a few, but honestly, all you need to do is Google “VR Marketing”, and you’ll find a fresh overview of what is going on right now. It is unavoidable that the best ideas will provide inspiration for others, or will simply be copied. In the best-case scenario these concepts will evolve. But in the worst-case, we’ll see poor copies that feel out of place, or simply inappropriate. And this second scenario is not uncommon in our world, especially when marketing ideas aren’t based on the DNA of the brand it represents, but on a trend in media, popular culture or technology. So how can we move forward?
Creating Native VR Marketing Concepts
Please allow me to share an insight with you from my own work. I'm lucky enough to be collaborating on projects that I believe will deliver something really special using VR. The reason for my confidence is that the projects' working mantra, which is as simple as it is profound. “Why VR?” I encourage you and your teams to do the same. This mindset will help eradicate any superfluous ideas, and come up with a concept that is truly special, because it’s a native VR concept. The best ideas will always come from your ability to answer the question “why?”
One opportunity would be to develop native VR concepts that respond to our ability to create new realities, rather than get caught up in trying to create new copies of the real world. No matter how well it’s made, it will always be a copy. Why abide by the laws of physics, time and space when we don’t have to? Let’s go beyond Virtual Reality. Let us create Virtual Super Reality that will allow people to float in space or go through walls to get a better view, or if they want, paint the sky with purple crayons. For decades we’ve used advertising to present consumers with something to aspire to and dream about. If we apply that mindset to VR, we will eventually get to a place where we will look back on copying reality in the same way we now think of some of the early attempts at reflecting the world online. The rules of design for the web evolved, and so the design rules for VR.
Using Your Brand Experience To Crack The Code
Do you want to know how to crack the code and create great VR experiences? First, we need to stop thinking about the gadget sitting on the users’ heads, and start exploring what you want them to see and do. If you want to create great VR experiences, you need to think less like an author, and more like an architect or an experience designer. To truly create immersive brand experiences, we also need to stop thinking in terms of screens, and start thinking in spaces. When you place users at the centre of the action, you will rarely have room for complicated narratives. Instead, you will need to develop themes that encourage exploration and engagement and drive audience participation.
You will also need to consider how to frame your business in a VR world and identify the right scenarios to represent your company, services and products. And if this is the key to unlocking success in it's simplest form, what does the brand experience look like? Once you’ve found the answer, you can then start to translate it into the feelings and emotions you want to evoke when people immerse themselves in your branded VR experience.
Settle For No Less Than Transformation
Great VR marketing concepts won’t be based on technology or cinematography, even though both disciplines are highly significant. The best VR marketing will evolve from experiential marketing - that means finding new ways to let your audience experience your brand, experience your message, and experience your brand values. If done well it has the power to be transformative. We have an opportunity to deliver an experience that is not only powerful enough to make us think and act in a certain way, but more importantly, share it with others. As a VR marketer you should settle for no less.