Be the brand. Featured event: “Self-branding and Marketing” forum by Xavier Thiebaud of The A List! at Model’s Workshop

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

When: 2016/08/02 5PM SLT (PDT)

Destination: Model’s Workshop @ Second Life

We’re attending: Model’s Workshop and The A List! present: “Self-branding and Marketing” forum with Xavier Thiebaud

More information: Model’s Workshop in-world group: secondlife:///app/group/0b48687e-b400-6d60-5547-48b114c49c8c/about (copy the link to the local chat in Second Life and press Enter to get the URL to the group profile) | Model’s Workshop website | The A List! in-world group: secondlife:///app/group/c39e50d0-257e-dc11-b31e-14570cadab1a/about

Business is a crucial part of Second Life – we, the residents, either produce content or use it. Therefore it is reasonable to have a conversation about business practices so we all can enjoy and benefit from the growth of certain brands. However, such conversation requires adjustments to the virtual world, which lives by the laws that differ quite significantly from the ones the real world lives by. In some cases of our second lives, we enjoy more freedom than in the physical world, and in some cases, there is less. The Grid also undergoes changes at a much higher rate than the physical world… With all the tools available to residents in the second world, how does one create a brand that lasts?

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

Xavier Thiebaud has taken it upon himself to answer this question. This resident is most known within the Second Life fine crafts industry as the founder of The A List!, the group where selected content creators and event organizers announce the best events one can possibly find on the Grid. He is approaching the 10 years milestone in Second Life, and during most of these years he has been building a brand of himself, his name, along with the brand of The A List!, in the higher society of Second Life. This Tuesday, he has hosted a forum on self-branding and marketing at the Model’s Workshop, a foundation dedicated to assist models of Second Life in a whole variety of ways, and I suggest checking out the “About” page on the Model’s Workshop website for more information about these awesome people.

We have gathered in the Model’s Workshop auditorium and took some time to get acquainted with each other, before Suki of Model’s Workshow went up on the stage where Mr. Thiebaud was already gazing at the audience next to the photography of Steve Jobs along with his famous quote – “Think different”. Ms Rexen took a few minutes to introduce the venue where we have gathered, and then the forum itself has commenced.

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

Starbucks. Versace. Chanel. McDonalds. Mr. Thiebaud included the presentation which began with the logos of these and other companies, asking us whether we can recognize those. Some we could, some we could not. This is unrelated to Second Life, but personally, when I saw the Versace logo, I thought of Perseus, a fictional brand from the Grand Theft Auto universe – I could not recall the name of Versace, the real life brand with Medusa on its logo, but I knew that Rockstar Games, the developers of the GTA universe, mocked Versace that way, by making a brand with the name of Perseus, the Greek mythological hero who defeated Medusa.

Then Mr. Thiebaud has made a remark that branding a company and an individual requires different approach, and then has flipped through the photographs of real life celebrities. Most of the participants have recognized almost all of them. I recognized none of the real ones, but that’s another story. The only one I had recognized was… the avatar of Xavier Thiebaud himself.

Stopping at that one, Mr. Thiebaud said that even though many people on Second Life (higher society in particular, I imagine) know The A List!, not many have heard of Mr. Thiebaud himself prior to actually diving into The A List! – he could “make his name an SL house hold name”, but that was not his focus. However, those who consider branding their name and/or image (for Second Life models, this is all too relevant) have to be ready to put some significant work into it. One of the models asked Mr. Thiebaud about branding name vs. branding image, to which his answer was that “branding a name in SL is easier than an image, particularly because our image changes constantly”. But he has a suggestion to those who still consider to gain recognition by image – and that is adding something to our appearance that separates us from other residents. Cindy Crawford, one of the real life celebrities I did not recognize, has a mole on her face, which has become her trademark. Mr. Thiebaud suggested to cam in to his eyes – supposedly they were electric, and I would be able to say for sure, had he not wear glasses. He sticks to electric eyes, “because [his] personality is electric”, but allows himself the freedom in altering the rest of his appearance. One of the models had recalled that freckles was her brand back when she had started her modeling career in Second Life. All in all, while for models always staying fresh is part of the second routine, they can choose something in their appearance that will not be changed next time they get a new look – and make it their brand!

The second part of the presentation began with Mr. Thiebaud asking the audience about the size of their friends lists and the amount of groups in which they can post. After hearing the answers, he has shared with us his infamous story about the April Fools Day prank he has pulled on The A List! members by sending out a notice which went like “Steve Jobs will be on the Apple Sim in SL and first 5 get a free iPad.”. In his words, “In one minute flat it spread all over the grid, because all our members have groups of their own”. That is when he has realized how powerful the right kind of networking can possibly be. Another story from Mr. Thiebaud on the subject of the power of networking: “I told Suki one year I got all the DJ’s to do a mix of a sample from an old movie called The Warriors and the one message being played all over in all the clubs was 20,000 HARDCORE MEMBERS”. But Mr. Thiebaud suggests finding the right balance between advertising not enough and advertising too much. The A List! does not ever see the same notice appearing more frequently than once a day (and therefore is one of a few entertainment groups for which I myself have not turned the notices off). Ideally, one has to find their own way of balanced advertisement, and that includes the outreach to the public with the message you have got – for Mr. Thiebaud, it had been uniting all the finest of Second Life regardless of the field, with an exception of the adult industry, in one group, so people of all trades had the opportunity to explore the industries of Second Life other than the ones they work in, and “that’s where [they’re] different than the groups in SL”.

Suki Rexen asked a question about picking the right logo – once upon a time, she picked a butterfly as her personal logo and got criticized for that choice, since, supposedly, it has nothing to do with modeling. To which Mr. Thiebaud responded that logo can be anything, and if Ms. Rexen wants to go with a butterfly, that’s exactly what she’s got to do. The point is to assert the ownership of the name, or the image, or the word and let everybody know that it is yours and it will stay yours, however one should choose any of the above wisely, for it is going to stay with one for a long, long time. Mr. Thiebaud reminded the participants once more that one should send a message to the public with their brand, therefore being different, unique, rather than bluntly copying the existing, is the right approach to it. (I can relate to that. The Digitized was started in exactly that spirit – “to cover everything that deserves the coverage, but has not received it”.)

In conclusion, Mr. Thiebaud has summarized the ideas of the controlled marketing. First, he listed the ways one can give the opportunity to others to follow one – basically, all the known social media, an in-world group, and a blog do it. Second, he suggested that one should not neglect the opportunity to help other brands of Second Life, because most of them will help one in return – “it becomes less daunting when people help one another”. Third, he reminded us to watch ourselves and what we share with other users, because reputation plays a tremendous role in how people perceive you and your business. (Anshe Chung, with all her millions, had got a bad reputation not only thanks to the failed CNET in-world interview 10 years ago – all over the Web I can read the stories of the atrocious customer service and the unfair tactics she uses to keep the profits going up. I have never rented from any of the AnsheX lands, and I sure as hell will think a lot before ever renting from them. But that is another story.)

That is where we have ended, now ready to let the world know [insert the forum participant name here] is coming around and it’s better be ready for this. Big thanks to The A List! and Model’s Workshop for organizing this forum and allowing everybody in – there was a lot of information relevant specifically to Second Life (and perhaps even other virtual worlds) on branding, and I myself cannot wait to try out some of the strategies. I hope this summary has been helpful to those who consider branding themselves, but have missed the forum. Thank Xavier Thiebaud if some of the advises turn out useful to you too. I am only re-translating them.


SL13B. Fantastic Finds: Beguile

"10 Years of Sailing" exhibit at SL13B

Finally we are getting to the best part of SL13B – the discoveries made at the exhibits of places to visit and activities to partake in all year round. While many exhibitors have made their exhibits the standalone installations with a certain statement (usually dedicating their exhibit to Shared Adventure, the theme of this year’s community celebration), many exhibitors have allowed themselves to represent something existing on the big Grid – places, communities, activities. You have already seen the first article of the series, dedicated to performing arts of Second Life, and here, we are moving on to what SL13B exhibitors can offer us. Let us see what we have discovered!

We begin with the Beguile region, rich on various Second Life communities exhibits.

Visiting to get acquainted with the place or the community is the obvious option, but I have also added the “Involvement level” meter to give you an idea of how much time you may expect to invest in the community or activity to really experience it. The levels are going like this:

  • Seasonal – you’ve got a shot in it when the time comes, don’t miss it;
  • Short-term – come anytime for a visit, no obligations;
  • Long-term – stay for a while, there will be certain expectations;
  • Second lifetime – change your second life forever;
  • Voluntary – any of the above will work fine.

Note: I have not thoroughly explored and researched every one of them, but merely listed them as objects of interest in Second Life, therefore do not expect elaborate descriptions. If you are inclined, you are most encouraged to go to each of the listed locations and communities and explore them by yourself!

Note 2: This list will be short on arts, because there is a little less than 50% chance that you have encountered an art exhibit or an exhibit that represents an art gallery or some other art-related venue. Next most popular category, Second Life Communities, has clocked about 15% of total exhibits. With all my respect to all existing forms of art, I firmly believe that a virtual world is first and foremost about interactivity, and seeing it becoming a platform for passive observation breaks my heart. There are a number of bloggers who will promote art installations in Second Life. I will not be one of them. Not this time at least.

Note 3: Many of the “finds” are going to be well-known locations, activities and communities. May this series of listings serve as a reminder of their existence and awesomeness.

Note 4: Sorry folks, no pictures, at least this time. Take my word – all of the finds are either eye-pleasing or engaging.

SL13B Volunteers (Exhibit: SL13B Volunteers Welcome You!)

Website | In-world group

Our list for Beguile kicks off, of course, with something related to SL13B itself, and that will be the Community Celebration volunteers, those that ensure that everything runs smoothly at the Celebration while expecting nothing in return, and the least we can give them is our endless gratitude, respect and appreciation. The exhibit took a form of a friendly hippie shack for visitors to take a break at. Unfortunately, the exhibit did not happen to have any group joiner or any information stand, and therefore one can only guess that the visitor inclined to learn more would somehow discover the way to join the official SLB Community Celebration group.

Involvement level: Seasonal, about couple of months

Cystic Fibrosis University (Exhibit: CF University)

Website | In-world location

The place that aims to educate the public about the fatal generic disorder known as cystic fibrosis has made its appearance at SL13B. Provided by Boomer Esiason Foundation, the campus features the main area with info stands (primarily Web-based), the library with a variety of resources on the issue, the administration building with information about the Team Boomer, the art gallery, the student union, the gift shop and a memorial fountain.

Involvement level: Voluntary

Second Life sailing (Exhibit: 10 Years of Sailing)

Search in-world for “sailing” in Places and Groups

Maiti Yenni (maitiyenni)’s exhibit at SL13B one, in my opinion, was one of the most remarkable ones – her exhibit promoted the activity she is passionate about, Second Life sailing, by presenting the volume and richness of this activity. “10 Years of Sailing” took the resident on a journey through time, from the very first Second Life boat to the growth of multiple sailing communities, as well as honouring the memory of some significant figures who, unfortunately, happen to be no longer with us… Communities, events, races – Second Life sailing includes so much more than just riding a boat across Blake Sea over and over. But reading about it is one thing, and experiencing it is a completely another one.

Involvement level: Voluntary – from an occasional trip to a lifestyle

Aero Pines Park

In-world location

Very well-known recreational area on the grid, Aero Pines Park has rightfully earned a reputation of “a place where there is always something to do”. Horseback riding, log flume rides, hiking through forest areas of the three regions, frequent live events – whenever one feels like experiencing a day in the natural reservation, one is most welcome at Aero Pines. Both individuals and groups of friends will have a way to have fun there.

Involvement level: Short-term

Sanctuary CCS Dark Role Play Community

Website | In-world location

Here comes the first roleplay community find. Sanctuary is an adult oriental-themed (looks like it at least) roleplay which actively uses the Community Combat System (or CCS), providing starter weapons as well as areas dedicated for the in-world combat. Traditional text roleplay also takes place, evidently. When I grabbed the Welcome Pack and the CCS Info pack, I got about a dozen notecards with information, which tells me that this is a pretty complex combat system, therefore I am going to leave exploring it to those who are inclined.

Involvement level: Long-term

Second Life Kids (Exhibit: SL Goonies Dungeons & Knightmares)

Try kids-related search queries, for example “kids friendly” or “kids roleplay”

Residents choose to live their second lives as kids for a variety of reasons – to get a kid’s perspective of Second Life, to avoid unsolicited attention, to rediscover a child in themselves. Loki Eliot, who happens to be one of the pillars of Second Life Kids’ community, has brought our attention to their existence through an interactive installation which is dedicated to the real life kids’ show popular in the… 80s? Taking advantage of the Experiences, he has installed an entire quest similar to the one the participants of the actual Knightmare have to get through. Residents had to work in teams of at least two, which happened to be a disadvantage for me, for I like experiencing things in Second Life on my own. But that is my personal preference. All in all, Second Life Kids are a big community, and one can learn more about them by looking up the groups.

Involvement level: Long-term to second lifetime

Elf Circle (Exhibit: A Touch of Elf Circle)

In-world location

All evidence suggests that this 7-region territory is a home to the Second Life fantasy community – while bearing the word Elf in the name, it is comprised of all the imaginable fantasy creatures living together. One can rent oneself a nice spot at Elf Circle, engage in the fantasy community lifestyle, participate in events and Second Life residents’ favourite pastime – shopping at the local fantasy market, practice in archery and overall have a lovely time in a company of peers.

Involvement level: Short-term to long-term

Spanish with Eugenia

In-world location

Eugenia Calderon, the founder of Spanish with Eugenia, had been teaching Spanish in Second Life for quite a long time, and at SL13B, residents got an opportunity to get acquainted with her school not only at the SL13B Auditorium presentation, but also at her exhibit. She uses Second Life interactive options for helping the students better understand and appreciate Spanish both as a language and as a cultural bridge, bringing them to virtual authentic Mexican locations and studying the language at those through lots of live communication. The classes are not free, but considering that they are meant to be a complete alternative to real life classes, this fact should not repel those who take learning Spanish seriously.

Involvement level: Voluntary, long-term recommended

The Dirty Grind (Exhibit: Radio Grind presents…The Dirty Grind Independent Artist Comm.)

In-world location

Independent artists can be found all over the Grid, as well as some dedicated communities where they can show off and exchange their talent – which The Dirty Grind happens to be. Along with the venue where live music is heard on a regular basis, there is also the radio station, Radio Grind, running 24/7, which any resident can add to their own land – an artistic soul will have no problem finding its retreat on the murky streets of The Dirty Grind.

Involvement level: Voluntary

Weltenville (Exhibit: Weltenville Dream your Adventure Live your Adventure)

In-world location

Anybody who is having a hard time deciding on the roleplay theme they would like to get themselves involved in may look no further – at Weltenville one can participate in several of them at the same time. From medieval to mermaid to biker or pirate, there seems to be no limit in being who you want to be at Weltenville. The place also supports all the popular combat and roleplay systems, is open to all the most popular breedables, supports all the most popular forms of mainland traveling, provides the new user orientation, and overall seems to strive to be everything at once.

Involvement level: Voluntary

Willowdale (Exhibit: Willow Scouts of Second Life)

In-world location

Through the Willow Scouts exhibit we can learn about Willowdale, the home community to this Second Life scouts organization. Willowdale is a vibrant family roleplay community which finds its home at the 7 region area, where Second Life residents can enjoy the peaceful modern lifestyle roleplay all together, in case real life is not fulfilling enough. One can be a school student, school teacher, firefighter, policeman or garbage collector – whichever modern role is your dream role!

Involvement level: Long-term

SL Harbor La Luna Bay City

In-world location

No, this one is not associated with the Mainland Bay City community, but is located at the bay as well, hence the name. From what I have observed, this community is teenage avatars-oriented (but not limited to) and is about cutesy and having all the fun in the world while one is young! Visitors will find the traditional Second Life activities out there – the live events venue, the shopping district, as well as several activities venues, and even a street train line across the entire place.

Involvement level: Voluntary

Olde Lapara Town (Exhibit: Lapara’s “The Big City”)

In-world location

Thanks to Levi Clownski (israel.schnute)’s exhibit at SL13B, we have managed to discover his Olde Lapara Towne, a small town somewhere on Heterosera, connected to the Second Life Railroad, which has been built in the image of an arbitrary American city in the early 20th century. Evidently, the place has been built as a tourist attraction, where a resident or a group of residents can take a stroll across the city and take pictures, or take a tram ride. One can even stay for a week in the Grand Lapara Hotel – but just a warning, it is G-rated.

Involvement level: Short-term


Website | In-world location

Hunts are an in-world activity one can learn more about at [insert URL here], and do residents love them – they are challenging, they give residents an opportunity to obtain quality and unique items at a bargain price (or even for free!), they introduce residents to stores and places, and they are just plain fun! HUNT SL is an organization which tracks hunts and promotes them for potential participants – both hunters and store owners can take a look at the website or the in-world location at any time and choose their next adventure.

Involvement level: Short-term

Stay digitized and have fun exploring! Wonderous region coming up next!

Hair Fair 2016. Brands to consider

Tameless at Hair Fair 2016

As a follow-up of the “Hair Fair 2016 in numbers” article, I give you the list of the stores that happen to be on the higher end in donations or on the lower end in prices. This is not meant to be finger pointing – I base these lists on raw numbers that are actually out there and one can verify them if one is inclined. Just a warning, it takes several hours.

6 brands that donate the biggest percentage:

  1. Zibska – 100%. Booth at Platinum
  2. Gumi’s Bad Box – 90%. Booth at Iridium
  3. lock&tuft (male hair available) – 75%. Booth at Rhodium
  4. Alli&Ali (male hair available) – 50%. Booth at Platinum
  5. *TUKINOWAGUMA* – 50%. Booth at Platinum
  6. [kik] – 50%. Booth at Iridium

Brands that donate the smallest percentage:
About half of them. I do not have to list those – next booth you visit has an almost 50% chance to be one of them.

10 brands with the cheapest small packs:

  1. Gumi’s Bad Box – L$30 per single colour. Booth at Iridium
  2. Tomboi (male only) – L$169 per pack (event only price). Booth at Osmium
  3. Alli&Ali (male hair available) – L$175 per single colour. Booth at Platinum
  4. adoness – L$180 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  5. The Stringer Mausoleum (male hair available) – L$199 per pack (event only price). Booth at Osmium
  6. [kik] – L$200 per pack. Booth at Iridium
  7. ASO! & Soothe – L$200 per pack (event only price). Booth at Iridium
  8. Hair Studio One (male hair available) – L$200 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  9. no.match_ (male hair available) – L$200 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  10. TABOU – L$210 per pack (event only price). Booth at Iridium

10 brands with the cheapest middle packs:

  1. Bizarre Hair – L$199 per pack (sale price). Booth at Iridium
  2. Zibska – L$200 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  3. Tameless – L$249 per pack. Booth at Osmium
  4. lock&tuft (male hair available) – L$250 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  5. Letituier – L$250 per pack. Booth at Iridium
  6. Mello – L$250 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  7. Lovey Dovey – L$260 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  8. adoness – L$280 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  9. Exile (male hair available) – L$280 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  10. KoKoLoReS – L$299 per pack. Booth at Platinum

11 brands with the cheapest fat packs:

  1. Zalea – L$280 per pack. Booth at Iridium
  2. Tameless – L$499 per pack. Booth at Osmium
  3. lock&tuft (male hair available) – L$600 per pack. Booth at Rhodium
  4. booN – L$640 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  5. Speakeasy (male hair only) – L$675 per pack (event only price). Booth at Osmium
  6. *TUKINOWAGUMA* – L$750 per pack. Booth at Platinum
  7. Vallani – L$750 per pack (event only price). Booth at Iridium
  8. The Stringer Mausoleum (male hair available) – L$799 per pack. Booth at Osmium
  9. [kik] – L$800 per pack. Booth at Iridium
  10. Wasabi Pills – L$800 per pack (event only price, almost 50% off!). Booth at Osmium
  11. [Decoy Hair] – L$800 per pack. Booth at Iridium

Also, here is the list of my personal high-quality-for-low-price picks. This one is not ordered – do not assume the last to be the least! I am not associated with any of these brands, just would like to spread a word about the good bargain.

Tameless. Donates 25%, middle packs for L$249 per pack, fat packs for L$499 per pack. Booth at Osmium

Since I have discovered Tameless back in 2012, they have not disappointed once with their hairstyles, both mesh and flexi. This year at Hair Fair, Tameless has brought several short hairstyles and a couple of tails – check them out!

Speakeasy. Donates 20%, small packs for L$225, fat packs for L$675. Booth at Osmium

Undercuts are still in, so boys, if that happens to be your thing, you must visit the Speakeasy booth at Hair Fair!

lock&tuft. Donates 75%, middle packs for L$249, fat packs for L$499 per pack. Booth at Rhodium

Boys and girls, are you looking for an original hairstyle with an attitude? Look no further. Discovered by me only this year, lock&tuft offers Hair Fair visitors several hairstyles that make a statement, including those with funky swirls on the back of the head. Have a look!

adoness. Donates 15%, small packs for L$180, middle packs for L$280, fat packs for L$850. Booth at Rhodium

adoness offers several original hairstyles, each of whose evidently requires litres of hairspray, that ladies with an attitude are going to love!

*TUKINOWAGUMA*. Donates 50%, small packs for L$250, middle packs for L$400, fat packs for L$750. Booth at Platinum

Ladies may be interested in the original hairstyles offered by this Japanese brand at Hair Fair, each of whose just screams “summer!” – from cute long ponytails with an optional hairbow, to a gorgeous updo with a hair accessory, to a long flouncy style.

no.match_. Donates 30%, small packs for L$200, natural colours packs for L$650. Booth at Platinum

Ever considered dreadlocks? no.match_ will make you! These beautiful unisex Carribean hairstyles with inbraided accessories will sure make other residents turn heads next time you come to the beach.

Mello. Donates 15%, middle packs for L$250. Booth at Platinum

Great quality hairstyles which can be worn both as the everyday ones and as a part of the fantasy costume, from your regular long hairstyle to cute double buns, all modeled by creepy girls. Check those out, why not!

Exile. Donates 15%, small packs for L$250, middle packs for L$280, fat packs for L$1250. Booth at Platinum

Exile sure has secured its name among Second Life hair creators as a brand that always offers a quality product, and at Hair Fair, offers a pretty sweet deal for its middle packs – both guys and girls can get a hairstyle at this booth that will look good even with the ever-changing quality standards!

That will be it for now. You have got until the end of this week to get yourself some new wigs – hurry up!

Stay digitized and enjoy!