How to successfully translate brand experiences into the metaverse.
In recent weeks and months, I have often been asked questions such as "What is the metaverse actually?", "What does it mean for my company?" or "How does the metaverse change our society?". These questions are not easy to answer, because we are still at the very beginning. Where the journey will lead remains to be seen. In this article, I will shed light on the topic of "metaverse" from the perspective of a designer and brand expert, because how a brand presents itself in the metaverse should be well thought out and not just guided by technological possibilities.
Written by Dominik Gasser
What is THE metaverse?The metaverse is the vision of a shared online world and refers to the next evolutionary stage of the internet. Virtual and augmented reality and the real physical world are merging into a digital space that can be experienced interactively. The development has only just begun, but many elements of this vision are already a reality. Horizon, for example, is Meta's (formerly Facebook's) platform that can be explored with VR goggles. It's an ever-expanding social universe where you can meet friends, meet new people, participate in events, play games, or do workshops. There are numerous platforms such as Decentraland, the Sandbox, Roblox, Glue or Spatial with which the most diverse applications and experiences can be created. These platforms are not connected to each other, nor are there any standards. The one metaverse does not (yet) exist.
Branding in times of digital transformationThe goals of branding are primarily to differentiate a company from its competitors and to win loyal customers. However, this can only happen if both brand and image are etched in consumers' minds and they prefer to choose products or services from the brand because they associate them with quality and certain emotions, images or messages - such as a certain attitude or lifestyle. As soon as consumers get in touch with the brand, all these elements of branding should be called up immediately. Through successful branding, customers develop an emotional bond with the brand. But good branding also raises certain expectations. When you buy a can of Red Bull, for example, you buy (and pay for) the familiar branding at the same time, even if the product is not that much different from its cheaper competitor. Simply put, it's about creating positive experiences and emotions.
Digitalization has made brand management more complex: it is faster, more transparent, and less plannable and controllable due to the momentum of social networks. Brand management today means much more than the one-sided sender-receiver relationship between brand and customer that has been practiced over the past decades. Agility and adaptability are crucial for brand success. Today's customers want to be involved in a genuine dialog on a level playing field and be convinced that a brand creates value (purpose) for them. Whereas in the past the brand was determined solely by the company, today consumers are becoming protagonists who actively influence brand development.
A consistent experienceToday, more than ever, the focus is on the brand experience. A brand experience that should be consistent across all channels and media. But how is it achieved? Target audiences, expectations and opportunities can be quite different depending on the channel. And when the metaverse is added to the mix, it doesn't get any easier, because the aesthetics in these virtual (parallel) worlds are quite unique. Classic brand management tools with strict guidelines reaches its limits here. Brand design must therefore no longer be a rigid concept. A brand should always evolve, be reinterpreted and adapted to the tone of voice of the various channels – without being arbitrary.
Fig. Brand design as a constantly evolving concept
Aesthetics in the metaverseSince the metaverse as a virtual reality represents an immaterial and digital world, its aesthetics is primarily dependent on the technologies and design tools used. Not only do the different platforms offer different possibilities or lend themselves to different applications, they also come across differently from an aesthetic point of view.
Different platforms, different aesthetics
The aesthetics in the metaverse vary in character. It can range from minimalistic designs to highly detailed, realistic recreations of objects and environments. The design of avatars, landscapes, buildings, vehicles and other objects can be influenced by the use of textures, lighting effects and movement to create a certain look and feel.
Another important element of aesthetics in the metaverse is the immersive experience enabled by the use of VR goggles. Careful design of visual and audio stimuli can help users feel like they are actually in the virtual world, which can lead to a stronger emotional connection to the world and to other users.
The brand experience in the metaverseThe metaverse offers a variety of opportunities for brands to engage with their audience and bring the brand to life. Here are some points to consider when designing the brand experience in the Metaverse:
- Integration: The brand experience in the metaverse should be integrated into the overall marketing strategy. The design of brand experiences in the metaverse should be aligned with the brand's objectives and fit into the overall context of activities.
- Consistency: The brand experience in the metaverse should be consistent with the brand image and message conveyed in the real world. The design of avatars, objects and spaces should be based on the core elements of the brand design to create a consistent experience. However, a 1:1 adaptation works in very few cases. Creativity and sensitivity are needed.
- Interactivity: The metaverse offers the opportunity to interact with users and create shared experiences. Brands should focus on creating interactive and entertaining experiences that immerse users in the brand's world and engage them emotionally.
- Innovation: Brands should create innovative and unique experiences in the metaverse to differentiate themselves from other brands. Creative and unusual concepts can help users remember the brand experience for a long time and speak positively about the brand.