Ryan Stoner | Brand Strategist

Virtual reality based on 360-degree video has gone beyond entertainment to become a format for immersive information, and inevitably, business marketing. It’s growing as an advertising medium in part because of sales, now augmented by devices like Google Cardboard. These viewers help make virtual reality an option in smartphone video.

VR gives provides an opportunity to tell your story in the most engaging format there is. Here are five things to consider when you ask yourself if your company should tell its story through VR.

  1. You want a new level of intimacy

VR content means immediate immersion in not just the story, but the experience that your branding is meant to convey. This strikes a much deeper response in your audience than text, infographics, or even video can. You provide a positive, informative, and creative story that users can interact with. Features like zoom, annotation, and branching allow your users to discover additional details on their own, even drilling down through various levels of detail on different topics to gather information on their own terms.

  1. You can involve the senses

Combining sound with visual stimuli only amplifies the effect of your advertising. Imagine merely narrating a film about tigers vs actually seeing one from every angle along with the sounds of its growl, panting breath, or legs swishing through the tall grass – and zooming in to see up close the ripple of its muscles and the texture of its fur. All of these immersive elements can be combined into a vivid realism that audiences will remember long afterward. You wouldn’t think that soft cheese makes for great VR, but when Boursin teamed up with marketing agency BecauseXM and Hammerheadvr, they created a VR experience -called the Sensorium- of a roller-coaster type journey that explores a fridge full of appetising treats. It won a Masters of Marketing Award and has more than 91,598 views on YouTube.

  1. New perspectives

VR allows you to transport audiences to surroundings they would otherwise never experience. A VR tour of your company, for instance, may be far more compelling than ordinary video to a customer thousands of miles away. They get a deeper sensory and emotional experience with your business to build better understanding and appreciation of your brand. For example, Samsung and NCBS paired up to stream over 100 hours of Olympic coverage in VR at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

  1. Inspire customer empathy

The customer becomes immersed in your personal/company story and mission. All the emotions and personal values of your company, such as the challenges, team building, funding, evolution of products, procedures, and organization build empathy for your brand. When a user is more emotionally invested in your brand, they are far more likely to become financially invested. Patron Tequila made a compelling VR experience (Called ‘The Art of Patron’) that takes you through the life-cycle of tequila, from agave field to being poured at a fancy cocktail party. It utilizes a  mix of live action video and computer imagery to make a beautiful and seamless VR experience that is steeped in the passion and attention to detail that it takes to make a high-end product.

  1. Surprise your audience with a new medium

The majority of consumers still have had very little by way of a virtual reality experience. Construct your content headlines and descriptions to invite audiences into the wonderful new immersive experience. VR is the next great storytelling canvas to build relationships and to define a new media category for the future. Utilizing VR now -to delight and entertain- can be the first step toward a long lifespan for customer loyalty to your brand. Merrell launched a new hiking boot by way of VR in what may be the most immersive and interactive branded VR experience to date. Participants take a Virtual Reality hike along a dangerous mountain trail, where there is not just VR video and sound involved, but also a stage built to guide the audience through tactile sensations as well, like a rope bridge with rope handrails to guide you, and wooden planks that shift under your feet.

If you’re already building stories to communicate your brand, start building innovative, immersive stories. VR technology is slowly but surely taking hold with consumers. It will be around for a long time. It could benefit your company to build in into the your branding now, rather than be a follower later.