A Guide to Using CGI to Create New Brand Experiences

Posted by: Chris Heeley - 16.01.23


They say it’s the little things that make a difference. And this is never more true than when it comes to marketing.

That’s why we developed Ride in 5: a series of bite-sized, five-minute reads that break down industry challenges, insights and trends providing oodles of inspiration for new ways of thinking and doing – helping ambitious marketers make their life easier.

What you need to know

As competition heats up in the online world, it’s vital for brands to use every tool in the box to help them to stand out.

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has been around in films for decades, but it’s now increasingly popping up in advertising and marketing too. Furniture giants like IKEA, Dunelm and John Lewis use CGI across over 50% of their sites. They’re not alone. A growing number of businesses across almost every sector are embracing CGI to tempt content-hungry customers and generate extra revenue.

Customers have an increased appetite for enriched experiences and personalised products. And this hunger is set to continue in the ever-immersive digital world.

CGI render of living room with lux iinterior design

How does it work?

In the world of CGI, anything is possible. 10-mile long set? Your product in 100 different colours? You got it. But how does it work? Here’s our step-by-step guide:

  • Step One
    Products are measured and modelled to create 3D product files from scratch. No product? No problem. Simply supply an image of the product or concept with basic measurements for scale. This could be anything from a fully rendered CAD/CAM design to a drawing on a napkin.
  • Step Two
    The photo-realistic 3D drawing is created, with any finish you could imagine from glass and metal, to wood and fabric. Lighting, backdrops and anything else you desire can be added to make it feel real. The possibilities are endless.
  • Step Three
    Once you’re totally happy, the final image is saved out in any format and resolution you need, ready to use on your e-commerce platform.
CGI technical product explosion mattress
AR at home

Completely customised

  • Totally tailored. Product customisation isn’t new to the retail industry, but a growing number of brands are using personalisation and configurators to illustrate entire ranges and finishing options with just a few clicks of a button.
  • Augmented Reality (AR). Whether it’s ‘trying on’ makeup to find the perfect shade, visualising paint on walls, or seeing how furniture fits in a room, AR provides a sense of product scale and design. An immersive experience where products can be overlaid in a real-world environment is a surefire way to boost confidence and sales.
  • In demand. AR is already high on consumers’ expectations. In fact, 46% of customers say they are interested in using AR to see how products look in their homes.


sofa configurator customisation
  • Creative freedom. Configurators give your customers creative control, allowing them to personally select every detail of their product – no matter how big or small the purchase.
  • 360 from every angle. Configurators with interactive 3D models take this a step further and give customers a 360° feel for exactly how their product will look in physical form.
  • Quality and consistency.  CGI makes it much easier to scale up production with large-volume image renders and generate countless combinations for configurators. Multiple product launches are consistent. Quality is guaranteed every time.

Why CGI?

There’s certainly a lot for marketers to be excited about with CGI. Transform your marketing, future-proof your business and engage prospects and existing customers in ways you never could before. Sounds good? Here are six reasons why you should consider using CGI.

1. Bring USPs to Life. Build credibility, break down complex information and boost purchasing confidence with 3D CGI animations.

Anything with hidden value can benefit: mattresses, trainers, hair styling tools, headphones and more. Drilling into product USPs help audiences buy into the tech, expertise, green credentials and ease of installation of your product.

2. More Sustainable. Of course, there will always be a place for traditional photography- and in many cases that is simply the better option. But there’s no escaping the challenges of sourcing, transporting and handling product samples, so where that becomes an issue, CGI is the route to go.

3. Easier Testing. Not sure how a new product will fare with your audience? Test customer engagement, build PR and gain feedback pre-manufacturing with CGI product visuals. No sales? No problem. Move on to the next idea.

4. No Waiting Around. Thanks to CGI, photorealistic 3D images can be created from a design file. Maybe your products are still being shipped. Or perhaps they haven’t even reached manufacturing yet. No problem – you can still create and launch your product using CGI visuals and hit the ground running.

5. Easily Updatable. Once CGI assets are created, they can be archived, revised and updated whenever required, as changes are made to models and products. Need to change a colour scheme or tweak a label? No problem. Thanks to CGI, this can be done quickly and cheaply rather than physically re-creating and reshooting a set or products.

6. Seamless Sales. Today’s shoppers hop around between social media, physical stores, messaging apps and e-commerce websites. Create seamless discovery and purchasing experiences by meeting consumers with consistently quality CGI assets on the channels they use.

Get Inspired

John Lewis

Long known for their CGI Christmas ads, John Lewis  have also embraced CGI production techniques for their kitchen brochures.

Click to view. 


Amazingly, the home retail king has reportedly been using CGI in 75% of their brochures since 2014. 

Click to view.


Back in 2020, Sofology invested £22m into their CGI ad campaign and has a dedicated in-house CGI studio team.

Click to view.

Need a hand?

Our talented and experienced CGI team works alongside a range of big brand name clients to produce stunning visual content at speed and always on  budget. 

Our CGI specialists are also supported by the rest of the Ride Shotgun team to offer  fully joined up brand journeys with in-house experts at every step. From strategy and insight, design and copy through to digital specialists, set builders, stylists, photographers and film makers.


Let’s chat about how we can help hello@rideshotgun.co.uk