Brand Consultant & Coach, Published Business Writer, Brand Author & Speaker, Harpist, Composer, Mom & Wife, Spiritual Student, Educator ... and that's just on Monday. A blog about brand leadership, innovation and anything else I want to write about.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

GlobalShop 2009 & Virtual Branding Trends

I have to say, today was a fun day in more ways than one. My new book Brand Avatar, Translating Virtual World Branding Into Real World Success just launched in Feb in the UK and is due out in the US and the rest of the world on Mar 31.

This morning I gave a key-note presentation in Las Vegas to attendees of GlobalShop 2009 (produced by Nielsen Business Media) about the brands within virtual worlds and how vw's also fit into the overall social media and traditional Internet landscape for retail brands - or what I collectively refer to as virtual branding.

Where Internet branding used to mean more or less traditional web sites and ecommerce, virtual branding is the landscape of branding within traditional Internet/e-commerce sites, blogging, social media and virtual worlds. For brands large and small alike, harnessing this brave virtual realm can be challenging, but one of the key points to remember is that whether we're talking Facebook, Twitter or Second Life - none are isolated entities but rather work together in the bigger picture of things. Each of these realms: social media, virtual worlds, Internet sites/e-commerce, even email campaigns require more focus by companies as a collective plan - spokes in the wheel that feed the center of brand building - versus regarded as individual components that exist on their own and in isolation. With the convergence and evolution of these realms becoming more mainstream, knowing your target audience's virtual habits are just as important as knowing your target audience's (traditional) media habits. It's a larger topic I'll cover more in future posts.

But back today. I had the luxury of walking around the exhibitor displays today for GlobalShop and saw a vast array of retail products, displays, shelving - you name it. What caught my eye, however, were two different companies offering a new twist on the branded experience. iDisplay is one company based out of the UK that offers up branded and sometimes larger than life digital displays that can run everything from a product demo (as is the case of the uber-sized Samsung phone with fully functioning, interactive display of phone features) to specially-produced commericals and trailers.

Aside from the giant Samsung fun and other over-sized screens mimicing hand-held products, another innovative product iDisplay offers is a branded product display that incorporates these same digital screens and also has a video camera to capture who walks up and a built-in sensor to detect gender: male triggers male-oriented content, female triggers female-oriented. (Because you know, men are from Mars and yada yada...)

Finally, Fogscreen out of Finland has the projected image experience amped up a hundred fold by projecting images onto finally misted fog (i.e., water) in place of the traditional screen, creating a sci fi-inspired misty effect that is both vivid and etheric. The photo below captures a Fogscreen used for a Playboy event.

Thanks again to DDI retail design magazine and the folks at Nielsen Business Media for a great event.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Virtual Banking Turns Real In Entropia

Virtual Goods News ran a story last week about real life banking now set-up in Entropia Universe, a massively multiplayer online virtual game (MMORPG) designed by Swedish software company MindArk. The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority has given its blessing (and more officially a license) for MindArk's subsidiary Mind Bank AB to conduct legal banking activities within Entropia. Available on each of its "planets," terminals abound said to offer everything from checking and savings products to loans. The new bank ties in with Entropia's in-game currency, which like Second Life, has an economic correlation to the US dollar and can be cashed in for real-life money. The PED is as of March 18, 2009 valued at a rate of 10 PED to 1 US Dollar. According to Jan Welter Timkrans, CEO of MindArk, "this creates a situation where in-world banking can add greater security and convenience to Entropia Universe's transactions."
Read the entire story here and ponder the meaning of real-world consumer bank confidence along the way. Virtual bailouts anyone?