• Transform magazine
  • October 25, 2021

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Five minutes with Luisa Murray

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Luisa Murray, executive producer at the global creative company BUCK, speaks to Transform magazine about the next frontier of digital branding. She explores the opportunities for brand managers, defines the must-have skill sets for designers in the metaverse future and details how technology is influencing client-agency relationships.

Where is digital branding heading with the rising expectations of Gen Z and, soon, Alpha?

Gen Z demands authenticity and action. They are doers themselves, who operate and communicate in a radically different way than generations before them. The rising generations are quicker to question the intentions behind your brand, so you have to speak — and more importantly act on — your truth. 

As digital natives, nearly 40% of Gen Z consumers want brands to engage with them where they spend the bulk of their freetime, on social platforms, and there are a multitude of channels in today’s digital environment. We can expect digital consumption trends to increase as Generation Alpha comes of age; this will be the first group who will never remember a time when digital and streaming platforms didn’t exist. 

It’s really important for brands to speak to this, meet them where they are and connect with them in meaningful, authentic ways. That authenticity must be consistently visualized and felt throughout an entire brand experience across owned channels and integrations. That’s a tall order for brand managers and designers. Creating a brand system with enough flex to address the changing trends is essential for connecting with and retaining the interest of this demographic.

How can brands integrate VR/AR and immersive into their consumer experiences?

VR/AR brand integrations are incredibly exciting. I love it because it’s such a unique and intimate way to engage with targeted audiences.  Especially VR, it gives you the full attention of your audience; something extremely rare these days. While for many this still feels far in the future, it’s already here and is going to grow and mature faster than you think.  

At the moment, immersive experiences are still the best use of these mediums. Brands need to imagine what the landscape will look like in the next 5 to 10 years, think beyond face filters and start adapting their approaches to creative brand experience now. As the technology and design capabilities become more sophisticated, there will be more functional uses for augmented reality and virtual reality in our daily lives that go beyond gaming or recreational uses. 

BUCK has been executing in this space for a few years now through our work with Oculus, and we pride ourselves on being able to create worlds that offer new ways for brands to engage with people. The pandemic lockdowns accelerated the potential for VR to connect people for fun and business. While our company has long worked in the commercial design space, we are now expanding into entertainment IP, leveraging our skills with 3D and 2D to develop games and streamable content. 

How can digital artists prepare for the demands of designing for the metaverse? 

The intersection where creativity and technology meet is a sweet spot for BUCK, and I’m constantly impressed by how our teams combine design with creative tech, or 3D animation with immersive. The next generation of digital artists must have a broad understanding of different mediums in the digital ecosystem and be able to transform creative concepts into evolving interactive experiences. As our realities and platforms converge, it will be really important for designers to have a handle on the basics (traditional workflows), but they will also need to work in real time under a new law of physics, if you will, and have an understanding of how code can amplify the work they do. That will be a huge advantage. It drives back to understanding the future of our digital environments. 

What is the next frontier of brand management?

The growing number of surfaces, screens and platforms where brands need to engage their audiences has skyrocketed. Covering all bases can be extremely expensive and time consuming so we’re seeing brands make tough choices: limiting their options by reducing deliverables and even pivoting to growing their in-house capabilities — which we absolutely understand. So we look to solve these challenges by delivering sustainable solutions that will continue to create value for clients. We’re not just creating brand design and guidelines. We’re really emphasising brand systems and developing tools to help further the usability of the work we’ve achieved together.  

At Buck, we see a future where brand managers can tap into high-powered design tools to produce 3D and 2D brand assets faster than ever before. We have a ambitious creative technology team that recently developed a real-time brand style engine using Unreal Engine 4, a design system typically used for gaming, that allows us to set parameters for a variety of different brand packaging and content formats so that clients can truly own their brand creative.

How is technology changing the brand client-agency relationship? 

For better or worse, the pandemic has forced everyone to adapt quickly to technological advancements that otherwise would have taken years to adopt. Real-time communication between client and agency via the many tools out there like Slack, Teams or Messenger means correspondence and collaboration happens very differently and at a faster pace than it used to. 

Beyond client communications, I think technology is becoming the third “person” in the relationship. With new machine-learning and AI tools hitting the market every week, a host of technologies are helping to automate everything from go-to-market strategies to campaign executions. Clients and agencies have to work together to understand what new gaps are being created by these budding technologies while never losing sight of the human element that makes really good creative possible.