April 2024

The future of augmented reality in branding

6 minutes

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the tech and branding world, you’ve likely noticed the rising tide of Augmented Reality (AR). But just how is AR revolutionising branding? Hold onto your (virtual) hats, because we’re about to journey into the future of AR in branding!
Augmented reality: A quick refresher

Before we dive in, let’s level set. Augmented Reality overlays digital content onto the real world, typically through a smartphone or AR glasses. Unlike Virtual Reality, which immerses you in a completely digital environment, AR enhances your current environment. Think Snapchat filters or Pokémon Go. Now, imagine this technology combined with branding opportunities. Exciting, right?

Bridging digital and physical worlds

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Abraham LincolnAR gives brands the tool to do just that! It blends the tangibility of physical products with interactive digital experiences. For example, IKEA’s AR app allows users to visualise how furniture would look in their home before making a purchase.

Enhanced customer experiences

Ever wished you could try on clothes without the fitting room hassle? Or see how a new car model looks in your driveway? AR makes this possible. By 2022, experts estimate that the AR market will reach £62.5 Billion by 2030. Much of this growth is powered by brands leveraging AR for unique customer experiences.

AR in advertising

Remember the days of static billboards? They’re rapidly giving way to interactive ad experiences. With AR, potential customers can interact with products, get additional information, or even make purchases, all within the augmented space. Brands like Pepsi and Lacoste have already dabbled in AR-enhanced campaigns with resounding success.

Product visualisation and customisation

"AR is the next major shift for brands." - Jason Yim, CEO of Trigger Global.

Indeed, AR offers a peek into how products can be personalised. Brands like Vans let users customise shoe designs in real-time, while car companies let potential buyers tweak car features, witnessing changes in live AR.

Bringing packaging to life

Imagine a cereal box that entertains your kids during breakfast with animated stories or a wine bottle that shares its rich history when scanned. AR blurs the lines between product and marketing, making every part of the brand experience potentially interactive.

Improving brand loyalty and engagement

Loyalty isn’t just about quality products or services. It's about engagement and connection. AR gamifies the branding experience, encouraging users to interact, share, and return for more. Brands that offer value through AR experiences find customers spending more time with their content, leading to deeper brand relationships.

Remote AR experiences

The recent global events have highlighted the need for remote experiences. AR fills this gap, enabling brands to host product launches, tours, or events virtually. For instance, musicians can release AR-enhanced album covers, offering fans exclusive content or experiences.

The data goldmine

Every AR interaction offers brands insights into user behaviour, preferences, and engagement patterns. By analysing this data, brands can refine marketing strategies, and product designs, or even predict emerging trends.

Challenges and considerations

While the future of AR in branding shines brightly, it’s not without challenges. Privacy concerns, tech limitations, and creating genuinely valuable AR experiences are areas brands must navigate carefully. Moreover, as Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, states, "Augmented Reality will take some time to get right, but I do think that it's profound." Brands should invest thoughtfully, ensuring AR aligns with their core values and offers genuine value to users.

Augmented shopping and retail

Imagine walking into a store, and with the help of AR glasses or your smartphone, instantly seeing product reviews, alternative color options, or even virtual try-ons. Augmented shopping can make this a reality. With AR, the retail experience is no longer just about picking up products off the shelf; it's about immersive, personalised shopping adventures.

Enhancing user training and onboarding

Brands that sell complex products, from tech gadgets to machinery, can harness AR to offer real-time user training. Picture an AR manual that visually guides users through setup or troubleshooting, transforming potentially confusing processes into interactive learning moments.

Bridging cultural gaps

One of the underexplored potentials of AR is its ability to adapt branding content based on the cultural or linguistic background of the user. Imagine a product label that, when scanned, provides information in the user's native language, or offers culturally relevant branding narratives.

Environmentally conscious AR

As brands become more eco-conscious, AR offers a path to reduce physical marketing materials. Instead of printing brochures or catalogues, brands can create AR experiences where customers access the same information through interactive digital overlays.

Real-time feedback and engagement

AR could pave the way for real-time customer feedback. Imagine an AR experience where users can instantly leave reviews, feedback, or even suggestions for the brand, creating a dynamic two-way interaction channel.

Ethical implications of AR

It's not all roses. As with any technology, there's the risk of misuse. Brands need to ponder the ethical boundaries of AR. When does personalisation become intrusive? How do brands ensure they don't blur the lines of reality too much, potentially leading to misconceptions or even deception?

AR - A new branding frontier

Augmented Reality isn't just a tech buzzword; it’s reshaping the branding landscape. As we hurtle towards an increasingly digital future, AR stands out as a beacon, guiding brands towards richer interactions, deeper customer connections, and boundless creative opportunities. So, whether you're a startup or an established brand, it's time to ponder: How will AR shape your brand's future?

How can an animation agency leverage augmented reality in branding?

Animation agencies are uniquely positioned to bring stories to life through AR. By integrating 3D animations and interactive elements into AR experiences, they can create exciting narratives that enhance brand identity and engagement. Imagine animated characters guiding you through a product's features or history, making the brand more relatable and memorable.

What role does a design agency in London play in AR branding?

Design agencies, especially those based in London—a hub for creativity and innovation—play a crucial role in creating the visual and interactive elements of AR experiences. Their expertise in aesthetic appeal, user experience design, and technological integration ensures that AR branding initiatives are visually stunning, user-friendly, and aligned with the brand's identity. They bridge the gap between traditional branding and futuristic AR applications.

Can a creative agency drive innovation in AR for branding?

Absolutely. Creative agencies are at the forefront of conceptualising and implementing innovative AR experiences that push the boundaries of branding. They can ideate unique AR campaigns that engage customers in unprecedented ways, from immersive product demonstrations to interactive brand stories. Their creative vision helps brands stand out in a crowded market by offering memorable and engaging AR experiences that resonate with audiences.

How do AR experiences created by animation, design, and creative agencies impact consumer engagement?

AR experiences created by these agencies significantly boost consumer engagement by making interactions with the brand more immersive and interactive. For instance, animation agencies can create captivating AR characters or stories that entertain as well as inform, while design agencies ensure these experiences are visually appealing and aligned with the brand's aesthetic. Creative agencies tie everything together with innovative concepts that challenge the norm. This multidisciplinary approach to AR in branding fosters a deeper connection between consumers and brands, encouraging loyalty and driving conversion through innovative engagement strategies.

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