by Charles Stanton, CMO at Web3 and metaverse company Forj
Thursday October 28 2021 isn’t a day remembered for many things. In fact, as days go, it was surprisingly uneventful by recent standards, bar an innocuous name change for social media goliath Facebook, whose parent company were to henceforth be rebranded as Meta.
It’s an event you may well be recalling to younger generations as it marked the advent of a new age for online experience, freedom of expression, and workplace efficiency (if Meta is to be believed). A new age of the metaverse had begun.
Earlier this year Goldman Sachs estimated the metaverse as an $8 trillion opportunity, Citi sees this as far too low, with a belief that the sector could top $13 trillion by 2030. For context, the global music industry in 2021 was worth $26 billion.
If your eyebrows aren’t raised yet then they should be because the next generation of the internet isn’t something to be ignored, and now is the time to be getting ahead of the wave by building a successful brand in the metaverse.
Yes, it’s very early, and even the most successful Metaverse platforms out there like The Sandbox and Decentraland are a long way from being fully functional. There’s a lack of commerce infrastructure, meaning it’s difficult to sell your products there. Interoperability is a far-off dream, meaning you won’t be able to easily replicate your brand across multiple platforms.
As for a huge and highly engaged brand audience, they aren’t there… yet. With that said online games like Fortnite and Roblox, who have certainly laid claim to being a metaverse of sorts, have seen headline-grabbing activations such as Ariana Grande’s Rift Tour in Fortnite which are paving the way for realising the value of brand presence in a virtual world.
This is exactly the time for brands to consider their metaverse strategy, in the safety and security of ‘experimental’ branding and with the guarantee of enthusiastic press coverage as everyone cranes their neck to see just what this metaverse thing is all about.
Being first is not the objective, it’s simply being there. Learning, optimising, experimenting, and ultimately realising how your brand will embrace a future where geographical borders and social interactions aren’t limited, and expression of brand purpose and values is key. Why would someone visit one of your stores in a virtual setting that’s identical to the IRL (in real life) version?
Brands in a virtual world will be challenged to immerse participants in ways that previously were unimaginable.
What if that popular fast food franchise restaurant was floating above the sea, shaped like their signature burger, and through ordering a ‘virtual’ meal your actual meal was delivered (courtesy of Deliveroo) while you get to see your virtual avatar transform into that chain’s brand mascot for a short time by ‘eating’ the virtual meal.
What if that mascot could fly and, before you know it, you’re soaring above the sea, collecting delicious French fries that can be converted into a virtual currency that can be added to your NFT loyalty card, to be spent later that day at a real-life restaurant. It sounds so unrealistic as to be almost farcical, but experiences and opportunities like these aren’t as far away as you think, so understanding how and where your brand will participate is key.
If it all seems a bit daunting, that’s because it is. So here are some of the important things to bear in mind:
Go deep into your brand values
With limitless opportunities to represent your brand values one of the greatest challenges can be deciding where to start. If your brand is a popular fizzy drink and centred around ‘Joy’, for example, think carefully about how that might be best conveyed in a virtual world. It’s unlikely to be through virtual drinks machines, and more likely through gamification or incentivised music and entertainment experiences exclusive to your customers. Don’t tie yourself to the physical limitations of your product, this is the time to bring your brand to (virtual) life.
Learn by doing
Now is the time to be experimenting with all that metaverse experiences have to offer. Even if current functional limitations reduce the options available to you there is simply no substitute for experience. Just look at Samsung’s recent S22 handset launch in the metaverse for a great example of experimenting with reproducing a brand experience in a meaningful way.
Building early allows you to not only reserve prime locations and increase visibility, but fundamentally you’ll have the understanding of the ecosystem and how your brand can capitalise best within it. That will become a superpower when adoption accelerates, and other brands are struggling to carve their niche.
Don’t do it alone
There’s been a boom in available metaverse building services, brand experience designers, and metaverse strategy experts ready to support your journey into the virtual world, and you’ll need their help.
Platform technical requirements can be highly complex and vary greatly from metaverse to metaverse so trust me, you won’t want to find out the hard way.
The good news is that currently metaverse platforms are very open to personally supporting brand collaborations and will often work directly with these brands to support their requirements, just another reason why being early pays off.
Whenever you decide the time is right for your brand to jump in (and it is a matter of when, not if), be sure to say hello. I’ll be flying above you, collecting fast food.