4 tips for using virtual reality in branding

DesignStudio's Paul Stafford offers designers advice on harnessing this exciting new technology.

You can't really get away from the speculation and on-going coverage surrounding virtual reality at the moment. Since Facebook's acquisition of Oculus Rift last year there has been a whole host of players vying for attention in the virtual reality market.

From virtual reality headsets including Sony's Morpheus, TOTEM and Google's Cardboard to immersive reality products such as Avegant Glyph and Google backed Magic Leap, these products have the potential to develop completely new platforms for communications over the next few years.

Brands are always on the look out to find new and exciting ways to engage consumers and are already beginning to explore how virtual reality experiences can be best leveraged to immerse consumers.

However agencies and brands must overcome the teething problems which often come with embracing a new technology, when ensuring that they are effectively engaging and communicating with audiences.

Paul Stafford, CEO and co-founder of DesignStudio explores the top ways in which creatives can make the most of virtual reality in this early stage.

01. Consider your audience

Sony's headset is titled Morpheus... but how far will people want to go down the rabbit hole?

It's important not to just jump on the bandwagon and use technology for technology's sake. Novelty is not a reason to embrace VR, you should always consider if it is right for your target audience.

Creatives need to think why it should be used to engage a specific audience, rather than primarily considering how it could be done. Any platform or channel chosen for any brand communication should be based on the audience and the best method to tell a brand story.

02. Amazing content is key

Tech like the Google-backed Magic Leap is amazing – but you'll need the right content to connect with consumers

No matter how amazing the technology is, great content needs to be created for this to truly take off. There is certainly a huge opportunity for brands to tell the story behind a their vision. Virtual reality calls for completely new content – pre-existing content simply won't do it justice.

That said, creating engaging, tailored content doesn't need to be a huge undertaking. A simple, inexpensive idea can be a great idea. For example, Go-pro have released 360º Hero, allowing people to create 360º content at a much lower cost, and it's likely that we will see much more VR content being produced like this.

03. Connect with consumers

Kickstarter-funded VR headset Totem

Creatives need to tell stories in an authentic and engaging way. Brands must connect emotionally with their audience to create a lasting impact, otherwise they will quickly lose interest in quick gimmicks once virtual reality becomes more widely used.

04. Consider the adoption factor

How many will actually buy headsets like the Avengant?

While there is much hype, very little of this tech is currently available for consumers on the open market. All eyes are on the unconfirmed release dates of the Oculus Rift, Sony Morpheus and only time will tell how quickly this is adopted by mass audiences.

Words: Paul Stafford

Paul Stafford is CEO and co-founder at creative design and branding strategy agency DesignStudio.

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