- The shift towards a new age of experience-driven web is unavoidable – and brands need to start thinking about the role they can play in this evolving space.
- Before brands jump into activating in the metaverse, they need to consider why they want to do it and plan an effective strategy.
- This is a chance for brands to get imaginative and have some fun, creating activations and environments that audiences would never be able to experience in a non-digital world.
- The metaverse provides the opportunity to stimulate all senses – use it.
The internet as we know it is changing, and that’s a fact. But the arrival of the metaverse is not simply the introduction of a shiny new piece of technology that will sparkle momentarily before fading into the background. The term itself is yet to be defined. It’s being defined as we speak and will be for years to come.
The metaverse promises to transform how we interface with the internet and therefore what the internet feels like. It can be seen as a merging of virtual, augmented, and physical realities that blurs the line between our online and real-life interactions.
Akin to the take-off of mobile and social media, we find ourselves at an incredibly exciting moment in the evolution of communication and engagement. Brands’ actions now will define their success and future existence in the coming years. So how can brands ensure they make the most of this opportunity and make meaningful connections with audiences in the metaverse era? These guiding principles should help steer:
- Before you figure out ‘what’, you need to answer why
- Let your imagination run wild
- Stimulate as many senses in the metaverse as possible
- Engage your metaverse audience by shifting from storytelling to story-living
Before you figure out ‘what’, you need to answer ‘why’
Strategy. Strategy. Strategy. Why do you feel it’s important for your brand to enter this space? What are your expectations and goals?
Answering these questions and defining your motivations will help determine the best possible technology and experience solutions to achieve success beyond the hype. Aligning metaverse activity with your brand’s values and messaging will ensure its longevity; activating purely for that PR headline is just not cutting it anymore.
View it as a pure evolution of your communications and marketing strategy. For audiences to connect with your brand, they need to relate to it. They need to relate to the lifestyle and values that your brand represents and stands for. Even if our tools in the metaverse era are changing – AR, VR, gamification, 3D, NFTs – the way we conceptualize this new age of the web should be the same.
Coca-Cola’s gaming activation to launch the new ‘pixel-flavored’ Sugar Byte is a great example of a brand cleverly weaving metaverse and product strategy together. Building a gamified custom island within the Creative mode of Fortnite, Coke cleverly connected its brand positioning and product flavor with its chosen marketing medium, speaking directly to the metaverse gaming audience in the process.
The Ad Council’s She Can STEM experience is another inspiring appeal to a young target audience. It encourages girls to flex their STEM skills and take part in challenges in a Minecraft world filled with user-generated content and statues of influential women to promote its message of female empowerment.
Let your imagination run wild
When creating an experience, reimagine. Don’t just recreate.
Why limit yourself to replicating real-life experiences when the laws of physics don’t apply? The metaverse gives us full creative license to create inconceivable and magical worlds at a time when escapism is more welcome than ever. Use it to your advantage by creating experiences that can only be unlocked in the digital realm.
See Intel’s incredible virtual concert with Diplo that transported audiences to a psychedelic desert, surrounded by mountains pulsing to the beat as the super-sized DJ spun the decks. Not your average club night.
The Row is another amazing case of imaginative world-building, mixing surreal concepts with hyper-realistic aesthetics to provide opportunities for an authentic escapism experience.
Worlds that engender a sense of wonder with their participants will be key in setting brands apart in the metaverse.
Stimulate as many senses in the metaverse as possible
The more senses you stimulate in an experience, the more real it feels, and the more emotional and memorable it becomes. Up until now, the web has been mainly driven by visual stimulation, but that’s not enough in this new era of experience-driven design. The metaverse allows us to introduce other senses to create something fully connected and unforgettable.
Audio has always been one of our most powerful tools to evoke emotionally charged memories. Immersive audio in particular will make a huge difference when designing for the metaverse. This technique effectively locks sounds at specific points within a 3D space and mimics audio behavior in the real world, adding an extra dimension to experiences – which can be particularly exciting for AR activations that lay digital assets over our physical environment.
‘From Elvis in Memphis’ was one of the first AR experiences to use immersive audio, adapting sound as users moved around the scene to make them feel like they were in the recording studio with the King of Rock N’ Roll!
Innovation is also allowing us to introduce touch into metaverse experiences. A recent activation for Vodafone at Mighty Hoopla Festival in London saw the use of haptic suits to translate sounds from the stage and crowd into beats that could be felt all over the body.
Imagine combining this haptic technology with stunning visuals and immersive audio. This is the kind of powerful, multi-sensory experience we can now achieve.
Engage your metaverse audience by shifting from storytelling to story-living
While brand strategy over the past few years has focused on storytelling, the metaverse facilitates story-living. It can completely envelop audiences in an experience that they inhabit themselves. Actively involving users as participants, having them create their memories with your brand, and putting them at the heart of the activation allows for far deeper immersion, connection, and engagement.
Technology allows us to make our audiences the heroes of their own stories. Avatar creation tools can provide them with the opportunity to explore and design their very own digital persona without limitation. Just as people come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and orientations in the real world, audiences will be looking for the same freedom to help them develop their identity within the metaverse space.
Experiences that empower self-expression will be winners.
La Liga’s recent activation in collaboration with PortAventura World allows park visitors to live their own story, combining personalization with autonomy. Users can create their avatar counterparts before exploring the park on their terms, unlocking exclusive AR content and games on the go and creating unique memories with La Liga’s brand – all while having loads of fun.
We’re at an incredibly exciting point in time where brand experience as we’ve known it is about to change forever. With careful planning, an effective strategy, and a generous dash of creativity, brands will be able to enter the Metaverse with highly engaging experiences that resonate with their audiences, assuring their success in the new age of the web.
Sofia Papadopoulou, Creative Director at Unit 9, leads its Metaverse Advisory Department (M.A.D). A visual designer for the past 15 years, Sofia blends beautiful design with a spirit of ingenuity, architecting boundary-breaking concepts that flow through the entirety of a brand’s digital communications. Her work has been recognized and awarded by global platforms & organizations such as Awwwards, The Lovies, CSSDΑ, ADCE, and EBGE Awards. It has also been featured in prestigious design blogs like Communication Arts Magazine, The Dieline, Packaging of the World, and Mindsparkle Mag, amongst others. Constantly evolving to work synergistically with new technologies, Sofia is fascinated by the endless possibilities of the Metaverse and is currently pushing those creative and technological boundaries even further with the M.A.D team at UNIT9.
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