Building brand experiences in the metaverse: debunking 5 myths
The metaverse is here – but where do you start? Damian Ferrar, senior vice-president, innovation director, global head of Jack X at Jack Morton recently talked with experts from Activision, Unity Technologies, Meta, Friends with Holograms and Journee: The Metaverse Company about what brands should consider when designing metaverse experiences. Here, they debunk a few common myths and misconceptions.
The metaverse is real. It’s also not new. The buzz around it is – including plenty of both hype and skepticism. But, almost six years after the first consumer Oculus Rift shipped, the metaverse is starting to make sense, and brands are shaping their metaverse strategies.
Jack Morton considers the evolution of the metaverse and how brands can get involved
Some brands dip their toes in to test the waters, while others dive in headfirst. Eager audiences are willing to not only experiment but bet the house. Recently a Dolce & Gabbana tiara, exclusive to the metaverse, fetched $300,000 at auction, and metaverse real estate now sells for millions.
Myth #1: the metaverse isn’t real yet
People have been dreaming and building a metaverse since the 1930s.
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In about 30 years, we’ve come from the first humble webpage to the social web, the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and web3. Today when we say metaverse, we’re talking about a shared, persistent, interactive experience in an online virtual world. Typically, it incorporates AR, VR, 3D avatars, video and/or other means of communication. Today, anyone with an internet connection and a device can partake. That could be through gaming, an entry point where many people will have their first experience, or a more robust user-generated communal experience in Decentraland.
The metaverse is real, and it’s evolving to become more hyper-real alternative worlds where people co-exist. Right now, it’s a field of green with limitless possibilities.
Myth #2: metaverse experiences shouldn’t overlap with IRL experiences
This isn’t either/or. There can be interplay between worlds, or extensions from one into another. For example, you purchase a product in the metaverse and get it delivered to your doorstep.
The key is finding ways to connect IRL to the metaverse and add value to the customer. The critical component of any metaverse experience is creating a sense of presence, whether virtual or real. And while metaverse experiences don’t yet mimic real-life multi-sensory interactions (tastes, smells, feels), they don’t need to. That’s the beauty of the metaverse. You can balance what’s known with what’s unknown and play with dimensions such as space and time to create ‘surprise and delight’ moments. You can bring unexpected real-world concepts like scarcity into the space, like queuing for a concert.
Myth #3: one failed metaverse experience will break your brand
Brands are experimenting in the metaverse, and they should. No one is an expert yet. Some are tracking early success. Some haven’t quite figured it out. That’s OK. The first step is taking a step. That could be a full-blown experience or creating a digital twin of your store to get the tooling right in 3D and never release it.
Whatever steps you take, your metaverse experience should be an authentic extension of your brand. It needs to be seamless, and you need to give people a reason to go. Nike’s virtual space in Roblox, Nikeland, is a massive hit because it gets the interactivity right and gives people a reason to be there (besides buying sneakers).
Brands need to accept that metaverse experiences are still a work in progress, but it’s important to get in early and try. Throw things against the wall and see what sticks; be open to expanding and finding new dimensions of expression. The last thing you want is to be left behind – or worse, for someone else to jump in and represent your brand.
Myth #4: the metaverse is just gaming amplified
Sure, many people’s first metaverse experiences will be through gaming – like Roblox or Fortnite. And gaming is influencing the progress and development of the metaverse. But the metaverse isn’t just about gameplay.
Gaming is one aspect that fuels the metaverse along with its community and interactions, but the metaverse has the potential for more, such as commerce and other activities.
Gaming itself isn’t one singular phenomenon; there are hundreds of thousands of separate worlds operating at once, whereas the metaverse concept, which isn’t there yet, is one world of interaction. The metaverse may take a cue from gaming, but it will be something entirely new, and there’s an opportunity to invent new designs and creative around it.
Myth #5: DEI isn’t as important in the metaverse as in the real world
Inclusivity is as important in virtual worlds as it is IRL.
Community is a core part of the metaverse. The foundation of community is shared interests and welcoming environments for all. Inclusivity can start with the basics, such as making avatars that are customizable to reflect gender, race, body size, hair texture and other defining characteristics.
Inclusivity in the metaverse also starts with who is building it: the companies investing in metaverse experiences, developing the technology or just showing up. All need to ensure that diverse teams are part of the creation.
The metaverse is a blank slate. We’re just at the beginning, but it’s filled with potential. There will be a lot more innovation as we go through new phases of transformation. We don’t know what the metaverse will become, but it will continue to grow and change. As it takes shape, it’s critical that brands, as they flesh out a metaverse strategy and start to build experiences, prioritize being flexible, inclusive and purposeful.
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No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience can be. We do that by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in every format — virtual, live or hybrid.Find out more