Space: A Branded Galaxy

Space. Globally it’s worth $329 billion and in the last four years there has been $4.2 billion dollars in private investment — humankind’s outlook towards space is skyrocketing.

In today’s age of fake news, and global stress levels at a historical high, we are constantly on the search for a better tomorrow. And in such trialling times, space sparks awe, fuels aspiration, and is a symbol of positivity and escapism.

However, space isn’t just “out-there” nor is it a topic of conversation exclusively for scientists, academics, the government or viral Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ — space is the next big race for all. The visionary mindset and provenance of space is an ingredient that brands across different verticals and industries are increasingly tapping into, transforming an intangible, far-out world into a desired experience on earth. The aesthetics, innovation, technology and design of space is rapidly permeating culture, creating exciting opportunities for brands to look up to the sky for storytelling inspiration.

36% of Americans would be more likely to buy a product if it was inspired or created by technology developed for outer space exploration — Sparks & Honey 2017

The resurgence of space is allowing us to take our minds to a place where we can think differently about our future and explore new vantage points of creativity to solve business problems. This week at the projects* we took one giant leap and explored the many industries including tourism, food, fashion and beauty that are all leaning into a topic that unites people and builds communities — recognising that sometimes imagination is more important than the analysis.

SATELLITE VISION

It sounds impossible, but it costs about as much to launch an app as it does to make and launch a satellite. I’m not lying. Space data is the next big thing, with more businesses than ever looking to launch small satellites into space, opening up a vast new world of data.

Take Coca Cola’s investment in small satellite company OneWeb, which has allowed the brand to expand its global footprint and more appropriately manage its remote locations with internet access and supply chain management. Yep, there’s a Coca-Cola satellite looking down on us as we speak.

“We operate in 207 countries as a business. A lot of those countries are beyond what most people would consider a point of access. We go beyond that last mile.” — Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer at Coca-Cola

Retail companies are also gaining unique data sets from satellites. Orbital Insight, a satellite data company that tracks the health of major retailers by analysing images of their parking lots, unveiled that J.C. Penney parking lot car counts were down 5 percent year-over-year in the last quarter of 2016 — a mirror to in-store sales during the same time, which decreased 0.7 percent.

METEORTAINMENT

Hollywood propelled us into space with movies such as “Interstellar,” “Hidden Figures,” “Gravity” and “The Martian,” allowing the outer worlds to become the next aspirational experience for those of us on the ground. Our sci-fi dreams might come true, soon it could be a very possible holiday destination. While the cost may yet be prohibitive for many, suborbital spaceplanes will be the luxury travel option of the future, with projections putting the global space tourism market at more than $34 billion by 2021.

Currently, the race for space tourism includes a number of private ventures such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — all with timelines aiming to send us mere mortals on a space vacation within the next year. Elon Musk even went on to announce in September that his massive rocket that aims to colonise Mars, could also be used to transport passengers to any destination on Earth in less than an hour. In a follow-up Instagram post, Musk said the cost of a rocket hop between cities would be relatively affordable. “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft,” Musk wrote. “Forgot to mention that.” — classic Elon. A lot of it is just talk right now, but the promotional video’s and images the billionaires share every so often, make it feel as if the future of travel is right at our doorstep. Yikes.

However, while we wait for the age of space tourism to really take off, there are brands who are already leaning into the celestial entertainment phenomena. Ordinary, natural events that are firmly rooted on the ground such as the northern lights in Finland, and the solar eclipse, have begun to turn into extraordinary events to be celebrated more than ever before. This year NASA reported that at the midpoint of its eclipse live stream, 4.4 million people were watching, making the eclipse the most viewed event in the agency’s history.

A number of brands embraced the chance to bring the eclipse to life for the citizens of America, as they gazed at the most-observed and most-photographed eclipse in history. Snapchat filters were on offer for the millions who were in the path of the total eclipse, while Google and UC Berkeley solar physicists joined forces to create Eclipse Megamovie project - a crowdsourced video made from images captured by 1,500 volunteers spread out along the path of totality. Airbnb and National Geographic also partnered to create a solar eclipse viewing experience that included sleeping under a geodesic dome, and a flight aboard a private jet that moved directly into the moon’s shadow.

THAT GALAXY AESTHETIC

Rather than focusing on the scientifics of space, the magical aesthetic has become just as mesmerising — if we can’t be in space, we now want to look like we are. From sci-fi silver pantsuits, to beauty products touched by moonlight, space is now a coveted look. NASA has a full time job just for fielding logo requests. In 2013 there were 3–4 requests per month, and today there are now almost 1–2 a day!

On the runway, Gucci released its Fall/Winter 2017 campaign, said to be inspired by classic sci-fi movies in the 1950s and ’60s, as well as the cult TV show, Star Trek. During Paris Fashion week Chanel also launched a line of interstellar fashion — and a custom Chanel Rocket. Fake sparks flew and clouds of “exhaust” filled the stage as the Chanel rocket lifted off from the centre of the runway to the tune of Elton John’s classic hit “Rocket Man.” In ode to “American dreamers and explorers who believe that anything is possible,” Coach also joined in and had a NASA moment, with their 2017 capsule collection.

And if that doesn’t convince you that we’re all going to be wearing space-inspired clothes in 2018, take a moment and appreciate the fact that Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, became the first astronaut to walk down the New York Fashion Week runway this year, debuting designer Nick Graham’s “Life on Mars: Fall-Winter 2035” collection.

Moving off the runway, NASA and private companies are also investing in designs and materials from brands such as Adidas and Reebok. Using Reebok’s Floatride Foam, the space boot received its first update in 50 years. The boots, were “exclusively designed to accompany the final space suit that will shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station in Boeing’s new vessel, the CST-100 Starliner.”

In the beauty world, products that will make you feel like a majestic alien are all the rage. Global beauty powerhouse, GlamGlow, released “Galacticcleanse”, a cleanser that combines ingredients like moonflower oil, charcoal and even meteorite powder to give you a deep clean that’s out of this world. Another brand using fictional-sounding but very real ingredients is Milk Makeup, who released a range of holographic highlighters “made with real meteorite power and twilight pearls for a totally galactic glow.” That summer glow we all hope for is about to get a whole lot more alien chic.

EAT AND DRINK LIKE AN ASTRONAUT

If we’re dressing like we’re from mars, we may as well eat like we’re from mars. Food and beverage brands are now adding outer-worldly taste, designs and aesthetics to our dining experience.

Take Scottish Whiskey producer Ballantine, whom have created a whiskey “space glass” designed for enjoyment in zero gravity. A collaboration between the distillery and the Open Space Agency (a collective of tech connoisseurs, designers and space enthusiasts), the 3D-printed space glass taps into the aspiration of space travel as the norm, complemented by drinks for the journey.

As we all try to optimise our time, we’re also turning to minimalist eating alike our astronaut friends. Silicon Valley startup, Soylent, is one brand who has made lab-made liquid nutrition a realistic menu option for the average joe. Each magical drink provides 20% of our daily recommended nutrition including protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and micronutrients. What was once a niche brand only available online, has now become a 7–11 staple in the US. Futuristic food ain’t that fancy, but it sure is made for that “efficient” millennial lifestyle.

It’s becoming clear that space isn’t just a distant future — it’s your business right now and it’s only just the beginning. Space is rocketing across culture and is giving us the ability to think of life from new perspectives, from the ground above and back. Designing space-inspired experiences, products or stories takes our minds to a place where imagination thrives, making space an aspirational ingredient we can all tap into. Sometimes you can’t just sit there and think is this really going to happen?! Otherwise it’s going to just pass you by. So here at the projects* we challenge you to think a step further and ask, what is your space strategy?

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