//Branded VR Experiences: Why Consumer Brands Are Creating VR

Branded VR Experiences: Why Consumer Brands Are Creating VR

Branded VR Experiences have picked up some serious momentum in 2017. In a crowded marketing landscape, where garnering focused attention is harder than ever, VR offers companies a way to connect with fans and consumers in a unique and memorable way. But what is a branded VR experience and how should consumer-facing companies best leverage the technology?

Much talk has been made about how Enterprises will truly start embracing the benefits of VR in 2018. The ROI is pretty clear in many use cases, such as VR for Training. But for consumer brands, there’s both perceptual and tangible benefits in adopting VR today. For instance, in an oft quoted report from last year, Greenlight VR found that 71% of survey respondents felt that VR makes brands seem “forward-thinking and modern. That perceptual benefit is joined by the actual tangible benefit of having consumers notice your brand, and depending on your VR experience, find something interesting about your company, leading to greater product recall.

In a world with 1000 television channels and an infinite number of web sites, traditional TV ads and web banner ads are easily tuned out. We’ve seen that with Twitter, whose stock price has been battered in part because people’s eyes gloss over sponsored posts with hardly a notice. But when Guardian UK gave out 100,000 Google Cardboards to readers this past weekend, you better believe that readers took notice. And almost every trade show I attend has a booth with a VR experience that’s so great, it generates a waiting line to try it out.

But what is it that makes a branded VR experience work? First and foremost, the company has to have a reason for distributing the experience in immersive 360. If it can play as a traditional 2D low-res YouTube video, then it doesn’t demand to be experienced in VR, and won’t result in much brand lift. And the experience should be engaging, getting the user to explore and interact. And finally, there has to be a narrative to the VR and a “takeaway” for the user.

We explore each of these key pieces of branded VR experiences more in depth below.


Branded VR Has to Have a Reason to be in “VR” in the First Place

Yes, we already stated above that simply using VR gives brands a tech-forward perceptual bump. But if your VR isn’t good, all that goodwill goes away. Look at 3D movies — when they first launched with Avatar, they were hailed as the next big thing in movies. And Avatar did make great use of the technology to immerse you in the world of Pandora. But so many subsequent 3D movies failed at the box office in part because they had no business being in 3D. In some cases, the 3D was even added in post-production on the movie just so it could be shown in 3D theaters! Consumers are pretty smart… if you hype a technology and then under deliver, your brand will take a hit.

For an example on why something demands to be done in VR, check our latest Customer Success Story with TUI Group. Their Destination Services team was trying to sell tickets to an Excursion that is hard to describe in words, but easy to convey the value of through VR. The result were happy visitors, who got to see the potential attraction before purchasing tickets for it. VR transcends language — so if you capture some stunning visuals, you’ll get global appreciation for your VR experience.

Check Out: Red Bull always stages some cool events in cool locations. Ones that visitors would want to explore, if they had the money to buy tickets and travel to them. The Red Bull VR team has been very good at using high end cameras to capture and distribute their events to those who can’t make it. Check out the Red Bull VR Hub here.


Branded VR Experiences Should Be Engaging

Once you’ve gotten a user to invest in downloading your application and strapping on a headset, you want to keep their attention. A brand never wants to be described as “boring”. That’s why creating engaging, memorable VR experiences is important. A passive VR experience defeats the purpose of VR, which is to empower the viewer to look where they want to look, and potentially be transported to new locations.

One of the key ways to make VR engaging is to add Hotspots. We’ve talked before about how Hotspots make VR interactive, giving the users a more memorable experience. So if a user wants to get a closer view or learn how something is made, toss on a Hotspot to augment the 360 world with 2D images or videos. Not only can you educate the consumer about the Brand, but the interaction will make the experience “stickier”, giving your brand a greater chance of recall in the consumer’s mind.

Check Out: Burt’s Bees isn’t exactly in the sexiest of industries. And a VR Tour of the late founder’s home doesn’t necessarily get people running for their headsets. But the resulting app that they created has some cool educational components about the eccentric Burt Shavitz, and the shack where he spent a lot of time. And what do they use to augment and deliver their interesting tidbits on the home — Hotspots!


Branded VR Experiences Should be “On Brand”

Much is made of narrative in VR storytelling. And for good reason… if you don’t go in with a plan while authoring your VR application, there’s a good chance the result will be underwhelming. So when you set out to created a branded VR experience, you want to make sure that the VR narrative ties in with the brand somehow.

For instance, this summer’s most overperforming box office hit, IT, seems like a great fit for VR. So it’s no surprise that Warner Bros rolled out a short VR experience tied to the movie, called IT: Floats. If you’ve seen the movie, you know a key scene takes place in the town sewers. So it’s no surprise that the VR short largely takes place in the sewer, with the the viewer being freaked out and looking around in 360 for the impending dangers. The short is scary just like the movie is! The short makes you want to spend more time in that universe, and buy a movie ticket! The goals of the VR experience — to scare you, to get you excited for the movie, to remember IT — were all accomplished by crafting a narrative experience that fits in with the brand it’s associated with.

Check Out: When the Golden State Warriors, the team closest to tech’s Silicon Valley epicenter, courted Kevin Durant to join the team prior to the 2016 season, they of course used Virtual Reality. They used requisite shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Coach Kerr getting his players pumped in the locker room, but they set it all to the soundtrack of Drake’s song, “Big Rings.” And what was Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to win? A championship ring. That’s some great synergy of team, brand, and VR!



Branded VR provides companies a perceptual lift in consumer eyes. But it’s also used to create memorable, engaging experiences that lead to actual sales. Branded VR is not something that will be coming in the future… it’s hear now! The space will only get more crowded, so sophisticated companies and their marketing agencies are already creating and distributing branded VR experiences.

InstaVR makes this process simple. Marketers don’t need to engage with engineers or VR experts. They just need a camera, a narrative, and the desire to create something that will be appreciated by fans. If you have a reason to create VR, you should be creating! Waiting will only allow other companies to enter the crowded marketing space with their own engaging VR experience.

Sign up for a free account today and you can start building branded VR experiences immediately!

2017-10-11T13:39:54+00:00 October 11th, 2017|General|