Brand Avatar: Translating Virtual World Branding into Real World Success Review

Brand Avatar: Translating Virtual World Branding into Real World Success
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I'm not sure why this book has not yet received as much attention as some others about virtual worlds because I think it's one of the best -- especially for anyone interested in looking at virtual worlds from a marketing perspective.
What I really liked about it is that, unlike a lot of discussions about marketing in virtual worlds, it goes beyond the superficial level and gets into the nuance. That's important since there is a lot of variation among virtual worlds, among brands, among company objectives, etc. so treating marketing in virtual worlds as a unified phenomenon just doesn't make a lot of sense. In getting down into the details, the author covers a lot of ground in a short book, including:
* A companion guide at the end of the book that lists major virtual worlds (at the time of publication) and provides a useful summary of characteristics of each world such as launch date, target market, and revenue model. This is important since, just like any other media, not all virtual worlds will be a good fit for all brands.
* Discussion of why real companies and brands are experimenting with virtual worlds and what they hope to achieve as a result of doing so.
* One of the more thoughtful discussions I've seen about the issue of measuring results in virtual worlds and the problems associated with commonly used metrics such as traffic.
* Examples of where real brands and companies have been effective in virtual worlds, where they have not, and analysis of why things turned out as they did.
Putting all of that together we see that in virtual worlds, as in any other marketing situation, it's important to start with a clear understanding of your objectives, choose the right media (in this case, whether to try virtual worlds at all and if so, which one(s)), engage with the target audience in a way that resonates with them, and measure your results in a way that is appropriate given your objectives. The book provides a lot of insights and information that marketers can use to work through that process to see if it makes sense to use virtual worlds as part of their overall marketing strategies and tactics, and if so, how. Even those already involved in marketing in virtual worlds are likely to find the companion guide useful as there are now so many virtual worlds it's hard to keep track of them all.

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Brand Avatar is a look at business and branding strategies within the Internet's latest phenomena of virtual worlds. Virtual world web sites such as Second Life and have already garnered millions of users around the world, representing a cross section of ages, ethnicities and purchasing power. Virtual world "residents" use and spend real money within the fictional-turned-real-life economies. Companies as diverse as Adidas, Pontiac, Jean-Paul Gaultier, MTV, and virtual world agencies based on real life ad and web agencies have all plunged into these unchartered waters to give their brands a virtual presence, using varied strategies and tactics.Brand Avatar covers the emergence of virtual world web sites, the culture and psychographic profile of virtual world users, the companies represented and the effectiveness of their business and branding strategies as well as the challenges that have emerged as a result of these worlds such as creating worldwide virtual world standards and intellectual property theft. This is a must read for any business person looking to gain a quick overview of the virtual world landscape and the value virtual worlds hold for companies and their brands.

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