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July 21, 2021

Why The Future Of Virtual And Augmented Reality Matters To Brands

By NOW Marketing Group

There’s no doubt that virtual and augmented reality is taking off faster than ever before.

While some brands might think that it’s a fad, the truth is that these technologies are not only powerful today, but here to stay.

The near future of advertising agencies, even the far distant future for local mom and pop shops, looks like having internal metaverse teams that handle gamification, digital currencies, collaborations with influencers, and more. 

In order to better understand what the metaverse is and what it means for brands, we sat down with our friend Cathy Hackl

 

Cathy Hackl is a globally recognized tech futurist. She’s a business executive, keynote speaker & strategist with deep expertise in AR, VR, spatial computing, virtual goods, virtual worlds & the Metaverse. One of the most influential women in tech, Hackl is considered a leading management thinker by Thinkers50 & a top technology voice on LinkedIn. She founded the Futures Intelligence Group & has worked for some of the biggest names in tech including Amazon Web Services, Magic Leap & HTC VIVE.

What Is The Metaverse:

Cathy got into the metaverse years ago after having her first virtual reality experience at a conference.

“It was at this moment where I realized that virtual reality is the future of storytelling, and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Cathy shared.

The fun thing about the metaverse is that it’s an ever-evolving concept that everyone in the industry, including Cathy, is actively building.
hands working on a laptop-1

The metaverse is essentially what comes next after the internet. There’s the internet, which is essentially web 1.0.

Then social media was introduced, which was essentially web 2.0 because it’s what connected people to each other through specific networks.

The metaverse is like web 3.0. 

“The metaverse connects people, places, and things; it is augmented and virtual reality. It’s a convergence of our physical and digital lives.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet)

People and brands often hear about virtual and augmented reality and think Ready Player One or The Matrix, but Cathy inspired us to think of it more like Pokemon Go

woman working on laptop-1The metaverse is a spectrum of experiences centered around enhancing our digital world and/or our physical reality with digital content. 

Given how much time we all spent on our devices in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear that this isn’t a trend.

We all took to our laptops and phones to stay connected last year, and digital games are where kids are hanging out and spending their time with friends.

“Just because it’s in a virtual space doesn’t make the experience feel less real to people.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet) 

Mic drop. Seriously. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s not a real experience, and virtual reality is one of the closest things to real life than we’ve ever seen! 

Virtual reality is completely transformative; it triggers something in the brain, which is exactly why it’s such a powerful concept and tool for brands to wrap their heads around.

Why Brands Should Care: 

Today’s world is all about creating unique pieces of content, and exceptional experiences, that educate, inform, and/or entertain people.

“We all know that brands are trying to do more to get attention, which is why customer loyalty programs are so big. We need to think about how we can use virtual reality and use these tools to care more and tell your story more” @jessikaphillips (click to tweet)

Virtual and augmented reality are exceptional ways of entertaining people and tapping into their emotions. 

Because of their power, these technologies have the ability to capture people’s attention in ways we have never seen before. This lets us tell our story AND create more meaningful conversations with our audience. 

“I think we’ve moved out of the space where it’s looked at as a toy because now we can see that virtual reality and augmented reality are tools.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet) 

The reality is, your brand might not be ready to use these tools today and that's totally okay! 

virtual reality headsetWhile you don't need to jump in immediately, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in this world so you aren’t left behind.

These technologies evolve quickly and staying on top of the evolution of the industry is how to best recognize opportunities.

The quicker you can spot a chance to leverage these tools to create exceptional experiences for your brand, the faster you can wow your customers. That's going to create conversations about your brand and drive loyalty.

Looking Ahead:

Eventually, brands will need metaverse teams; there is a fundamental shift happening in the industry right now. 

“It’s important for brands to figure out what they want to do in the VR/AR space because a lot of brands thought #SocialMedia and #Ecommerce was a fad. But this is the future of business.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet) 

Whether you’re adding gamification aspects to your business to capture customer’s attention, incorporating augmented reality into your app, your job is to pay attention to the trends in order to figure out the possibilities for your business.

It doesn’t mean you need to jump into the world of AR/VR yet, but you want to keep tabs on what’s happening. 

“The future is uncertain; we can’t predict it, but there are signs that show us where things are going and we can use that to guide us.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet) 

While we don’t know exactly how these technologies will transform, we can safely predict that it’s going to involve the creation of more immersive, customized experiences for individuals. 

Two people looking at content on their phone-1This is where brands - especially small businesses - really have an opportunity! Small brands can win because they can leverage the power of relationships and partner with micro-influencers to bring people into their world. 

It’s all about thinking about how we can allow our community to create with us. 

Putting It All Together:

The brands that win in the future will be the brands that lean into their relationships, understand the power of personal brands, and leverage technologies to strengthen them.

virtual reality 1In today’s world, everyone has a built-in audience. 

In today’s world, we’re actively building our own digital world. 

“We’re builders of worlds and we can monetize these worlds, and that’s a shift for how brands engage with newer generations and creators.” @cathyhackl (click to tweet) 

While many brands shy away from supporting their employees' personal brands, it’s only a matter of time before that backfires. 

“You can’t control the narrative of your employees! You can’t control the message. You need to hire people that believe what you believe instead!” @jessikaphillips (click to tweet) 

Brands that lean into and embrace the power of personal brands have an amazing opportunity to build relationships. They also have the chance to create memorable and immersive experiences that allow people to try, test, and design things. 

While it can be a little overwhelming to keep up with this constantly changing world, it’s all about staying in the know. 

“This space is powerful, so it’s just a matter of WHEN it takes off. You want to pay attention so that you know when to jump into these technologies as a brand.” @jessikaphillips (click to tweet) 

Here are a few ways to stay on top of the constantly changing metaverse world:
  1. Read Metaverse Weekly, Cathy’s weekly column in Forbes
  2. Buy Cathy’s Book: Augmented Workforce

By staying on top of this world, you’ll be able to recognize and spot opportunities for your brand to leverage these technologies to build relationships and create rich experiences for your customers! 

What do you think? Has your brand dipped its toes into the world of virtual or augmented reality yet? We’d love to hear about your experience! 

Get the C.A.R.E. and Brand Manifesto Workbook NOW Marketing Group

Tags: augmented reality, metaverse, Cathy Hackl, virtual reality, digital technologies

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