Creating Physical Experiences for Digital Brands

Back in February we were lucky enough to participate in the Transmission Summit - a global creative content and technology conference held in British Columbia. During the conference, one of the sessions I found most interesting involved Nora Young (CBC technology journalist) interviewing Angel Gambino (Wired Top 100) on her experiences building physical and digital spaces. 
During the interview Gambino stated that, "the physical retail space is now the marketing window for the online purchase experience." 

That got me thinking about the future of digital branding. While digital brands have become an essential part of life, we remain physical creatures in a physical world. To bridge this divide, could the next big trend in digital branding involve physical experience?

Digital Brands creating Physical Experiences

According to a recent article published in Forbes, the online giants Amazon, eBay, Google and PayPal are all in the process of creating concept stores that would help them extend their reach into the physical world.

While all these brands have built strength through digital delivery, there's a growing belief that "establishing a physical presence may well be the last frontier... engaging all the senses in ways that sophisticated algorithms can’t."

The recent opening of Angry Birds Land is another example of a digital brand attempting to create a physical experience. Whether this marks a serious diversification from online gaming is yet to be determined, but it has been suggested in the media "that Rovio is planning a series of Angry Birds parks around the globe."

Physical Brands creating Digital Experiences

Alternatively, an emerging trend amongst traditional retailers involves creating hybrid digital experiences. According to the BBC, the retail giant Tesco has been experimenting with virtual subway stores as a way of overcoming the need for retail space (see below).    

Bridging the Digital-Physical Divide

Bridging the digital-physical divide is an interesting opportunity for those in branding. A lot of money has been invested in improving physical experiences with digital innovation; like the way UrbanSpoon improves dining, or Expensify improves expenses. 

Could improving digital experiences with physical innovation be the next frontier?