Main Feature Marketing APAC

Don’t believe the hype–rethink brand experience

In today’s world, change is a constant. Transformation is happening all over, in every sector, at top speed. Yet established rules, myths and formulas remain and are held tight, especially around brand experience and customer journeys. With the pressure on to catch up and keep up, however, yesterday’s frictionless approaches shouldn’t just be challenged by those wanting to succeed but, where appropriate, ignored.

And for brands, this means rethinking experience and the role it plays in creating meaningful customer moments that build deeper loyalty. Let me explain.

What’s changing

With the journey towards digitisation and connectivity accelerated by rapid advances – made both by tech giants in terms of roll-out, and consumers in terms of behaviour – how we now live is now vastly different and constantly evolving.

More of us now live in cities than not, for example. And cities are transforming, developing, and expanding at amazing rates thanks to high-tech materials, sensor networks, and better data which are letting architects, designers, and planners work smarter and more precisely to make it all more environmentally sound, more fun, and more beautiful.

How we shop and buy is unrecognisable from just a few years ago. Technology has changed the everyday way we buy things: NFCs, contactless, predictive data, the list of innovations goes on. Being creative, and what this looks like, is also being contested with AI, and emerging technologies are constantly redefining what creativity looks like. 

Even the concept of identity is changing. But it’s not just male, female, gender neutral, or fluid – even self-identifying as non-human, like an avatar, is becoming more commonplace. And we all have different versions of our own identity according to context – for example, we could have a professional identity on LinkedIn but a social one on Kakao Talk or Instagram.

This reappraisal and redefining of gender and how self-identity is recognised is being driven by Gen Z and Gen Alpha. And with these two groups now numbering close to 2.5 billion, this is not something you can ignore.

What this means for brands

In the light of all this, it is inevitable that top-down traditional linear techniques, to establish or build brands, aren’t going to work as they used to. The reason’s simple: how people experience a brand is no longer a straight path. The gap between physical and digital is converging, with a hybrid present now upon us.

So modern brands now need to be created or refreshed in vastly different ways. Across channels and media, and from physical retail to the metaverse, consumers now face a continuous barrage of choices and noise, making a brand’s job of standing out even harder.

Yesterday’s rules that were once best-practice are fast becoming obsolete, pressuring the C-suite to re-align their organisational structures and cultures to new modern world realities. But companies also need brands that can scale, while at the same time be agile, fluid and stretch across marketing, product and employee cultures as consumers’ behaviours tear down silos.

The old ways that fell out of step, and recent developments are shaping new ways

When the world pivoted from analogue to digital, our industry became obsessed with speed. But in many recent cases, this obsession has been to the detriment of brands.

We’ve become obsessed with being frictionless and seamless, for example. This was important a few years ago as we digitally transformed our businesses, of course, but today, technology is more ubiquitous and equally distributed and this means speed isn’t the primary factor to make consumers love you anymore.

UX experts have become over-obsessed with the ‘cult of 3 clicks’, too, and have frantically pushed this – making it their agenda despite the changing behaviours we now experience. As a result, lots of brands have ended up narrow or ‘bland’.

Recent experience also provides important lessons for how brands’ approach must evolve from here. The global pandemic reformed how we see ourselves, for example.

COVID reminded us of the 300,000 years of DNA that make us human. And it taught us both that we want to be closer and more human than ever, and that a critical way to be so is through the storytelling and human interaction that has for so long underpinned human history. We are hard-wired as pattern thinkers to look and seek out meaning and connections.

3 ways to re-think brand experience

How, then, to re-think brand experience for a modern world? There are many different ways this can be done. Here are three:

First, make friction your friend.

Since the earliest days of digital, received wisdom has been that success depends on eliminating friction. But this demonstrates a misunderstanding of friction and how it can be valuable to humans – and is.

The rock brand Queen was told ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ being six minutes long wouldn’t work as a music single because traditional singles were three minutes long, so audiences wouldn’t listen. But, of course, the experts were wrong – that track is now the world’s most popular single track streamed. Why? Because of the power of its story. It played with emotions, senses, and challenged our everyday to be new, interesting and engaging. Its length – the friction – isn’t bad, it’s a tool to create narrative and emotion.

The lesson from this for brands is that building meaningful storytelling into a brand is an incredibly powerful tool to engage and to create relevancy in a world losing personality. Move beyond frictionless to use friction in a positive and meaningful way to help give your brand more meaning.

Second, don’t obsess about speed on your journey

Speed can be overrated. Obviously, it is important in some contexts. But generally, if someone is interested in your brand, speed is a long way down the list.

For brands, the journey is a powerful tool.

Think of a kid’s playground slide. Travelling from A to B on the ground is one experience, but travel the same distance by slide from top to bottom and your experience becomes more interesting – and fun. And, with the added post ripple effect of remembered enjoyment once the experience is over, you are more likely to want to share your experience with others or remember it after.

For brands, speed might be important for low-interest behaviours but, if you want to create a lasting bond that connects with people’s values, speed isn’t the driving factor.

Third, be more Kardashian, be more ‘composable’

In other words, be more open as a brand – let people be part of your brand and let them feel more part of your everyday interactions.

Consider atomic design. Just as all matter is made from atoms that combine to form molecules, which in turn make up more complex organisms, atomic design involves breaking a digital design down into its basic components and then working up from there to create a site or product.

This principle is relevant for how we should build brands as a brand today must be a living breathing ecosystem of parts. This means being flexible and adaptive – more ‘composable’.

Some of today’s most successful brands allow users to influence or personalise their interactions and connections with a brand. Even Apple, known for its rigid design system, has dropped its walled garden and now lets users personalise more in its new iOS.

Brands also need to cater for people’s increased desire to be more expressive – as demonstrated by the rise of social emojis, stickers and other ways to add personal touches to how they share or express themselves. Think of your brand as an invitation to join your values and purpose and provide your employees and your customers with a toolkit to help them join you.

Navigating the new brand experience world

Once, the establishment said the earth was flat. But early pioneers redrew the map and profited from their findings. In the same way, those that today challenge yesterday’s received brand marketing wisdom around experience and the customer journey – businesses that lead rather than simply follow – have much to gain as they steer their course in the new consumer world.

This article is written by Wayne Deakin, global principal for design at Wolff Olins.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Fintech ValueChampion launches Metaverse finance world in Singapore

Singapore – In an aim to bring innovation and knowledge sharing to a new level in the finance space, the Asia-focused fintech company ValueChampion will be launching a new immersive Metaverse finance world with HSBC, Allianz Insurance Singapore/Allianz Partners, and Advisors Alliance Group (Representing AIA Financial Advisers Pte Ltd), as well as Funding Societies, and IG.

To enrich and gamify the learning process, ValueChampion has partnered up with Our World Is Flat (OWF) to build an entirely new virtual world for people to explore. OWF is creating a new Web 3.0 experience with the use of immersive technologies through ValueChampion’s platform.

Called the ‘#VCWorld’, the new Metaverse virtual world is developed to engage and connect with personal finance enthusiasts. It aims to bring all players’ financial wellness to the next level, with the goal to make financial knowledge accessible and inclusive.

Official brands will embed their own virtual characters and brand experiences into the Metaverse to interact with the players, guiding them along the road to financial success and safety. Players will get to learn about the six verticals of financial products in a bite-sized and fun manner in the game.

According to ValueChampion, this is an exciting next step for them who is always on the lookout for different ways to provide more creative and effective content for its audience.

“Financial literacy is essential to everyone, especially in these uncertain economic times with unprecedented inflation and price hikes in daily necessities. People are increasingly aware of investing and growing their money, protecting themselves financially from unanticipated situations and educating themselves on financial products. While the internet is a treasure trove of information, consumers have to be cautious about the accuracy of the information they obtain online,” said the fintech company.

Marketing Featured APAC

Superunion launches new creative tech service

Singapore – WPP creative company Superunion has unveiled its proprietary design technology which enables brands to create innovative digital experiences and build meaningful connections with their audiences. This new offering includes generative design and metaverse experiences, in addition to established motion design expertise.

The new creative technology service was developed by the Superunion Asia team across APAC and China studios, led by Jessica Tan, Superunion’s digital director for Asia, and Paola Demichelis, Superunion’s digital designer. By applying technology and digital art, and connected to data, the tools enable brand owners to generate limitless creative assets in record time, within the parameters of their brand identity, giving them creative control, and a platform to express their creativity, over their own brand.

Moreover, the tool has been put to use by multiple Superunion clients to ensure brand innovation and coherence after the creation of brand guidelines. After defining the brand rules with the client, Superunion codifies what makes the design unique, creating a set of design rules. These are then built into a series of algorithms and codes to build bespoke software, along with the UI and UX interfaces integrated into the final tool.

The generative design tool is also complemented by the launch of the Superunion metaverse offer for clients looking at the next generation of digital experiences to engage their employees and external audiences through gamification and creative possibilities of Web 3.0.

With Superunion expanding its portfolio of services, the company will be able to act as a creative partner for the world’s biggest businesses across multiple sectors and geographies.

Tan shared that creative technology is a core aspect of their Superunion proposition, along with digital-first brand creation and the exploration of the opportunities of the next generation of internet experiences. 

“We believe in handing power to our clients and their creative teams, and our creation of these expansive systems enables this. Clients can use the design rules of their brand and create an almost never-ending suite of assets to suit any need over time and let their own creativity free. This is where Superunion has come into its own and where we see the opportunity for growth, globally,” said Tan.

Meanwhile, Ambrish Chaudhry, Superunion’s managing strategy director for Asia, said that their creative technology offer has already changed the way they think of branding and design at Superunion. 

“It’s helped us to think screen -first, be agile around [the] adoption of our work and to play an even more consultative and partnering role for our clients. The opportunities are truly boundless and if client response is something to go by; then we are well poised to write the next chapter of brand and product identities for some of the largest businesses globally and in Asia,” said Chaudhry.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC Reels: Marketing in the Metaverse

With the metaverse industry expanding at a rapid pace much like existing digital trends nowadays, brands and marketers are utilising this new digital realm to create and improve their relationships with their customers–both new and existing. For the third and final instalment of MARKETECH APAC Reels: The Metaverse series, the third episode titled ‘Marketing in the Metaverse‘ discusses features within the metaverse that brands can use to their advantage to upscale business or find new channels to communicate with their customers.

The three-part series first opened with a discussion on the general overview of the metaverse–including the origins and birth of the metaverse space, existing foundations such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), blockchain technology, and cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the second episode tackled the fundamentals of the metaverse scene, including what is new in the platform, the various opportunities and endeavours brands can expect, and how to utilise them.

As mentioned previously, it is no stranger to us that the metaverse is rapidly growing, thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars invested by entities to create their own metaverse offering or launch campaigns and retention strategies in the metaverse. But what exactly do brands and marketers should expect from the metaverse? And how exactly can they utilise this new space to their advantage? This is what episode three, the last of this series, will tackle.

In this last episode, we’ve sat down with experts and experienced leaders belonging to the marketing, and metaverse spaces to learn more about how to market your brand to the right audience in the metaverse. Furthermore, the latest episode tackles the type of environment and narrative that consumers and/or brands want in their metaverse experience, the challenges that marketers may face throughout their metaverse journey, as well as the potential possibilities brands can use to improve the branded metaverse experience, ranging from diverse avatar usage to gamification.

To sum up, no sky’s the limit for brands and marketers to let their creative methodologies be applied in the metaverse.

To learn more about the marketing opportunities and challenges in the metaverse, head on to the video to learn more.

Hear from Joe Peng, APAC chief digital officer of BCW Global; Zoe Cocker, head of innovation and Creative Studio at Yahoo; and Cheelip Ong, regional chief creative officer and chief product officer at Lion & Lion.

Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC Reels: Pillars of The Metaverse

In a bid to better shape up the understanding of the highly immersive digital reality that we’re witnessing now, that is, the metaverse, MARKETECH APAC began a series that dives deep into this futuristic space, and how the marketing community can best harness its powers and capabilities to the brim to make building groundbreaking experiences and engagement possible for their brand and business.

The three-part series first covers the basic understanding of the metaverse, then moves into identifying its most important pillars, and finally, for the big gun – how marketing fits into the overall ecosystem. 

Episode 2 – which talks about the building blocks of this omniscient space – has now been launched. 

In episode 1 in ‘The Birth of the Metaverse’, we talked about how we got from Web 1.0 to now Web 3.0 and what makes up this new iteration of the world wide web and the experiences and engagements this decentralised and open digital ecosystem promises us. 

We know that while the metaverse is invigorating and its brilliance is keeping us at the edge of our seats – it too can intimidate us into its larger-than-life reality. But what if we take it apiece, and break it down into just its most vital elements? This is what episode 2 of the Metaverse Series is all about. 

We’ve roped in experts and experienced leaders belonging to the marketing, NFT, and virtual reality spaces to help shed light on what makes up the metaverse world and the opportunities and experiences that it ought to offer; how we as the stakeholders, so to speak, of the free digital environment, is able to make the best out of it – either as consumers or producers in the space. 

In a nutshell, expect to see in the metaverse ‘New Humans, ‘New Space or Events’, and ‘New Objects’. 

To learn more about these indispensable entities in the metaverse, head on to the video to learn more.

Hear the expert insights of Joe Peng, APAC chief digital officer of BCW Global; Madhav Khandelwal, founder and CEO of DeMons, and Bell Beh, co-founder and CEO of BuzzAR

Watch our space as we release the final episode of the series – ‘Marketing in The Metaverse’

Marketing Featured Global

Wunderman Thompson launches beach metaverse activation to mark the start of Cannes

USA Wunderman Thompson has launched the WT Inspiration Beach, an immersive metaverse activation to celebrate the start of advertising’s biggest festival in Cannes together with the metaverse platform, Odyssey. The virtual beach would allow people from all over the world to experience the agency’s unique take on creativity, content, and connectivity. 

The WT Inspiration Beach has been custom-built from the ground up in partnership with Odyssey. The virtual beach features collaboration spaces, a networking lounge area, as well as a creative showcase of Wunderman Thompson’s most inspiring pieces of work. Later this week additional features including an interactive shopping space and a DJ booth will also launch to keep visitors engaged in new ways.

‘Inspiration Kiosks’ have been placed throughout the beach to present Wunderman Thompson’s take on key industry themes including Sustainability; IE&D; Data and Technology; Brand Creativity and Effectiveness; Talent; and Business Transformation. 

Gareth Jones, SVP of global marketing at Wunderman Thompson, said, “At Wunderman Thompson we’re always looking for innovative ways to create a more inclusive customer experience. This is why we’re excited to launch the WT Inspiration Beach, a virtual activation in the metaverse to allow our clients and colleagues around the world to experience our take on creativity in a unique and highly immersive environment.” 

Reid Santabarbara, CEO of Odyssey, commented, “As brands seek to enter the metaverse, many are looking to Wunderman Thompson who are thought leaders in this space. Through our collaboration, we’re able to provide these ambitious brands the most accessible, highest-visual-fidelity streaming metaverse platform on the market today. In creating the WT Inspiration Beach, our product team, led by Odyssey CTO Maxime Long, has captured the creativity and inspiration of advertising’s biggest festival and delivered an experience that demonstrates the limitless opportunities of the metaverse.” 

Wunderman Thompson was one of the first agencies to launch their own metaverse, debuting the space at CES 2022. The global network has published two original reports about the rise of this new frontier of customer experience: ‘Into the Metaverse’, launched in September 2021 and the follow-up report, ‘New Realities: Into the Metaverse and Beyond’, launched in May 2022, which found that awareness of the metaverse has more than doubled in less than a year.

Marketing Featured Global

Meet Leon: Publicis’ newly-appointed chief metaverse officer

Paris, France – In a bid to further educate its clients about the inner workings of the metaverse and Web3 technology, global advertising agency company Publicis Groupe has unveiled its new avatar interface named Leon, and appointed him as its chief metaverse officer.

Leon, who resembles the lion evident in the Publicis logo, was unveiled at this year’s Viva Technology. The appointment of Leon builds on the expansive set of existing capabilities, skillsets and talent that currently resides within Publicis Groupe, with a focus on deep Web3 expertise in both blockchain use cases – inclusive of NFTs, smart contracts and decentralised applications – as well as metaversal technologies like VR/AR and artificial intelligence.

During the announcement video, Leon showcased its expertise as a Web3 native, and he has strong grounding across communication disciplines and is a metaverse expert.

Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said, “The metaverse isn’t a destination, it’s a real-time learning moment for all. It requires interrogation, education and experimentation. We are committed to being on that journey with our clients, to help them understand what it means for their business and to bring them the existing Web3 capabilities in the Groupe across data, media and technology. Leon embodies that as an avatar and will help our clients navigate this new channel and progress every step of the way.”

Meanwhile, Marco Venturelli, chief creative officer of Publicis France, commented, “The metaverse is an endless, unknown territory to explore with creativity. To truly innovate we have to experiment and learn as we go. Leon’s mission is to motivate all of us to be brave and progressive; because the earlier we move, the further we can go.”

Agathe Bousquet, president of Publicis Groupe in France, said, “We want to support our clients, innovate with them and showcase the best achievements. In terms of the metaverse our clients have questions about creative, production, rights, commitments… We needed an expert to answer that. That will be Leon’s role.”

Platforms Global

Adobe advances Metaverse with new 3D and immersive experiences updates

Singapore  Adobe today announced major updates to Adobe Substance 3D, a suite of tools and services that support 3D content creation from the beginning to the end of a project, expanding on the tools’ extensibility and performance. 

Adobe announced multiple updates across the Substance 3D Collection, including:

Native Apple M-series chips support, Substance 3D Materials SDK, Substance 3D Automation Toolkit, Substance Materials Plugin in Photoshop, and its later release of the Substance 3D Modeler.

Adobe Research, an organisation with research scientists, engineers, artists, and designers who shape experimental ideas into innovative technologies, today previewed research projects designed to power future Metaverse experiences. 

The growing importance of 3D and immersive content has contributed to strong demand for Substance 3D tools across gaming, entertainment, and e-commerce industries. 3D content creation also continues to grow into a core skill for creative professionals as more brands prepare for the metaverse and other immersive experiences. Substance tools have seen a strong 100 percent year-over-year growth, with now hundreds of thousands of monthly active users.

“Smart brands are getting “metaverse-ready” by growing their 3D and immersive content creation capabilities. That means that creative artists with expertise in 3D have a wealth of opportunities,” said Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive vice president of Adobe Creative Cloud speaking at a customer event in Paris. “These innovations provide new superpowers to the rapidly growing number of creative people using Substance 3D.”

Adobe previewed a new intelligent method for optimising load time while maintaining visual fidelity for optimal AR customer experiences. The new AI-powered approach allows brands to deliver a high-quality AR experience in a fraction of the time it would normally require by prioritising AR content that is most likely to be relevant to the viewer first based on their movements within the physical space. This will help brands alleviate the common challenges stemming from slow load times on large AR scenes. This technology will be integrated into Adobe Aero later this year.

Starting this summer, Adobe will expand free access to Substance 3D applications to teachers and students worldwide. Universities subscribing to the Creative Cloud All Apps plan already have free access to Adobe Substance 3D applications.

Additionally, Adobe is partnering with schools on 3D and immersive curricula including RUBIKA DESIGN Valenciennes Design School in France and the ArtCenter in Pasadena, California.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Bizverse World garners global investments to support Metaverse expansion

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Bizverse World officially launched a strategic partnership with some of the leading global partners in finance, investment, education, and infrastructures, such as GotBit, Defi Asia Capital (Subsidiary of SoftBank Group), Linkcube Ventures, Depro Labs, Udemy, and Agora. 

This cooperation will focus on accelerating Bizverse’s steadfast growth rate by supporting the expansion of the entire metaverse ecosystem and upgrading the blockchain infrastructure.

In May of 2022, Bizverse had the opportunity to partner with GotBit, one of the leading investment funds, blockchain startup advisors, and a market maker today. GotBit operates as Bizverse’s ‘top backer’ in this relationship. The company acts as a catalyst for Bizverse’s growth by investing in and sharing knowledge about how to run brand-new crypto projects. Furthermore, GotBit has a blockchain startup incubator that has supported over 1500 successful projects. 

The relationship with GotBit ensures that the project has a launchpad, allowing Bizverse’s members to get early access to promising new crypto tokens from diverse projects before they are publicly revealed.

Bizverse has attracted the attention of some of the industry’s most prominent investment funds, including ‘giant’ SoftBank, which showed interest to join the Metaverse. Meanwhile, Defi Asia Capital (Subsidiary of SoftBank Group), Linkcube Ventures, and Depro Labs invested 1.5 million dollars in a strategic round (for augmented reality alone). At the same time, these three companies merged to become Bizverse’s VC (Venture Capital). This investment will help Bizverse improve the innovation of 3D, VR/AR, and Digital Twin technologies expanding into the ecosystem and solving real-world problems.

Without stopping there, to pursue the direction of developing technology for people and establishing a worldwide knowledge community, Bizverse has partnered with Udemy, an online learning platform to create breakthrough learning on Metaverse. Udemy will make approximately 200,000 courses available for free on Metaverse, covering almost every field. Bizverse’s E-Class system has these courses built-in.

To improve the user experiences when interacting in real-time in the digital environment. By integrating natural interactive features, the user’s experiences when using platforms to perform on Bizverse (LiveShow, Karaoke Online, Bizverse Meet, etc.) will become more vivid and authentic. Bizverse also established a relationship with Agora, the world’s top video, voice, and interaction live streaming technology, which has been used at the Grammy Awards (USA).

These collaborations will allow them to work together to establish a complete Metaverse that connects the actual and virtual worlds and fully meets users’ needs in terms of work, study, and entertainment.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Thai food company CP throws fan meeting in the metaverse

Thailand – CP, Thailand-based food company, has launched a new metaverse campaign in March for its product Sausage. CP Sausage used to have a fandom strategy every year in order to reach a new generation of consumers, this time, metaverse is making an entry. 

According to CP, they didn’t open the free verse in the hope of gaining traffic and selling their products, but instead, they used the power of fandom to acquire fans in the verse by using their product as a ticket to attend a Metaverse event. They predicted that more than 10,000 people would attend their Metaverse event on the day. 

The company said Asian fans are passionately devoted to their idols, as seen by the group’s long history of success. Because of the exclusivity of their product or event, especially if it is a limited edition. With this campaign, CP is looking for fans not just from Thailand, but also from China, Korea, Japan, and other ASEAN countries.

This year’s plan was the same as last year’s. One of Thailand’s best-known male idols, with more than a million Facebook fans, Mew Suppasit, has been tapped as a presenter. Gather, the 2D Metaverse platform was used to create his Metaverse world. Because Gather is the most practical platform, with over 10 million users worldwide.

The company said, “Apart from choosing a presenter with a strong fan base, building relationship with them is also delicate.”

“It’s not about marketing or advertising, it’s about telling the details that fans want to know, helping to solve the problem, answering their questions clearly and listen to the needs of the fans. Because they are people who have most influenced in campaign success,” CP added.