Build Your Brand In The Metaverse In 2022
taking your brand into the metaverse in 2022? This article takes you through all you need to know about a metaverse branding service.
An alternative to The Big Bang theory states that in the beginning the earth was without form and void, that there was darkness upon the face of the deep. I must admit that when I first sat down to write this article about the metaverse I could not help but think about those opening words from the book of Genesis and it is for that reason that the Metaverse at present does slightly also feel as though it is without form and void. There isn't too much light on the subject except for some Ted talks and a video by Mark Zuckerberg in which he holds fourth on what the metaverse could become.
Understandably, many brands are now angling to get in on the metaverse virtual real estate but not everyone quite understands what it is. Let us begin with a definition. The word metaverse is a portmanteau of two words “meta” and “universe” the prefix “meta” has the idea of something being beyond. It is often combined to create words like metaphysics, metacognition and closer home to computing metadata. However the word metaverse takes on a restricted sense to mean a virtual world created through the Internet. The metaverse puts people at the center compared to traditional brand building methods. It is a platform that truly empowers the consumer. This is because the metaverse originated in gaming, which was really about community, play, fun, and value creation. It has since retained this DNA. Brands that want to succeed in this space need to bear this in mind. It, therefore, requires much more creativity and innovation than was required of brands up until this point.
The Pandemic Catalyst
The obvious question that would arise is why would anyone need a virtual universe or metaverse when the real thing seems to work just fine? In brief, it has to do with what technology has enabled us to see we cannot do just yet. With the growth of technology and especially the Internet it is now possible for us to share photos and videos at the click of a button increasingly however that doesn't go far enough as it once did. Perhaps the key driver that has accelerated the move toward the metaverse is the lived experience that many of us have gone through during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first when lock downs and shelter in place orders were given around the world many people were really excited at the possibility of working from home and perhaps even working in pajamas. As the month wore on however the flurry of online meetings started to leave us a tad fatigued. And that is because much as we can see our workmates and others via zoom, and other video conferencing technology it still does not replace the feeling we get during an in person meeting.
The pandemic has also diminished the difference between traditional ecommerce distinctions such as B2B and B2C. This means that brands have to be less overt in creating calls to action specific to either B2B or B2C. The metaverse requires that your brand be able to walk in between B2B & B2C work and play. It needs to have a crossover appeal that effectively caters to both groups and needs. There are about eight different features that builders of brands will need to take into account as they build their brands online. These are presence, avatars, home space, teleporting, interoperability, privacy & safety, virtual goods, and natural interface. I will discuss each of these at a time.
All About Presence
Would it not be great if we could create a technology that can allow us to complete experience that comes with interacting with others fully albeit virtually? This is one of the things that the metaverse wants to bring to life. One of its goals is to ensure the feeling of presence in the virtual experience rather than just consuming media from a screen. It is also about enabling us to get a sense of haptic gratification through a virtual medium. Brands that understand this basic need will stand to gain from the new worlds that are now being created. Throughout much of marketing brands have always wanted their customers to not only read, see or hear their marketing efforts but also be able to smell, taste, and feel their products and services. There is the often quoted statement attributed to the late Maya Angelou who once said that
“people will often forget what you said but will never forget how you made them feel”.
The metaverse provides brands with that opportunity to make people feel at scales not possible through other traditional media. So how to do it? It is still early days in the metaverse nonetheless, some opportunities are beginning to emerge on how to go about establishing your brand in the metaverse. One of the key goals to remember as your brand evolves into this space is to make it not just engaging but also immersive. Well, what is the difference? Engagement indicates active involvement in trying to solve a challenge or a problem. Many movies provide this in their storylines wherein they present their protagonist with a challenge and then progressively through the development of the plot show the character solving the problem after which the storyline comes to an end. Immersive experiences on the other hand indicate a degree of passive involvement in which you find yourself present in the experience. It did not require active work in trying to solve a challenge or a problem. For brains to succeed in the metaverse and to solve the problems of presence, in which current 2D technology is woefully lacking there is a need to do both. There's a need degree experiences that are both engaging and also immersive it matters not what the activity is it could be gaming learning augmented reality or some other kind of activity that gets the audience to come back again and again.
So what technology exists to help brands do this? At present about six technologies are emerging as clear frontrunners. They are: virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), blockchain, 3D reconstruction, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IOT) virtual and augmented reality check the two boxes they are both potentially engaging and immersive. The two work differently. Virtual reality works by producing a virtual environment that is entirely computer generated. To experience it users would need to use headsets gloves and sensors. On the other hand augmented reality uses everyday tools such as phones and cameras and directly morphs into the real world. These gadgets can be configured to consume augmented reality content right off the bat ideally this would be a low barrier entry point for most brands. One company ROAR has pioneered this. ROAR enables a consumer to download an app from the play store and use it with a mobile phone camera to consume content. The possibilities are exciting. Product packaging could be redesigned to bring to life AR content while shopping. The value to advertising and brand positioning is immense. For example a customer inside a supermarket could be enticed to get product offers simply by pointing the phone camera and consuming AR content right off the shelf. This is important since surveys show that about 70% of shopping decisions are made inside the store. Key to enabling this virtual economy, the third technology under discussion will increasingly play an important role. That technology is blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency, notably Bitcoin, has increasingly taken on a more prominent role as a significant investment digital asset. However in the metaverse other types of digital assets called NFTs are becoming more and more commonplace, and these are also recorded on the blockchain. NFT stands for non-fungible token, which represents a claim of ownership for unique non entertain changeable digital assets that are recorded on the blockchain one popular use case for the NFT is virtual real estate. how does virtual real estate work as an NFT?
We could perhaps understand it better by looking at the example of The Sandbox. the sandbox is a virtual space where players can play, build, own and monetize their virtual experiences period to enable players to do this the sandbox would create digital assets that enable all of these virtual experiences to come together. Recently they approached legendary rapper Snoop Dogg collaborating on The Sandbox. The rapper went on to recreate his California mansion in the sandbox. And just like in the real world a vacant lot that was next to Snoop dogs in the sandbox Close to 71,000 sand. Approximately U.S. $ 450,000 at the time. You can read about it here. It is mind bending to think about what all this means. It does however highlight just what is possible. The other technology that will enable the metaverse is virtual construction. This technology is not new. Already, virtual construction is in use in real world construction today. Many property developers prefer to use virtual construction especially for busy clients who often do not have the time to visit construction sites they may send renders of the property or what is sometimes known as virtual tours. This trend has only accelerated as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, in which many clients were unable to visit sites due to movement restrictions. Already many companies are creating these building blocks that will enhance the power of these technologies in the metaverse. As these new inventions become more ubiquitous, they may present opportunities for brands that want to capitalize on their presence in the metaverse. So what should a brand manager be doing right now to enhance their virtual presence? I would suggest starting with augmented reality. It would probably be a metaverse light if you like that can enable you to wet your feet in the virtual world before plunging into creating content for headsets and other sensors. As you begin to see what is possible it would then be the next Natural step for those who now want to get in on the action.
Building Your Avatar
As used in computing, the word avatar represents a virtual computer generated representation of a user in a virtual world where whether 2D or 3D. Avatars are often used in chat messages, gaming, training videos, and sales where they are used to assist clients via text audio or even video links. The fashion industry has been a pioneer in the use of avatars. Many of these avatars look sleek and are dressed in the latest fashion items made by the fashion houses for example as reported in Vogue Prada launched candy for their summer spring collection of 2021. It is new territory. Many brands are still trying to figure out how to go about this but there is an opportunity going by the market response. There is now an online space virtualhumans.org that tracks avatars. For a brand to manage to pull this off, there is a need to put some thoughtfulness into what or how the avatar will look like. There will also be a need for authenticity. The temptation would be for a brand to create an either perfect or near perfect avatar. But is that what would sell? As humans we tend to be drawn to characters who are more like us in other words who are relatable. Brands have learned how to put that to good use humans want avatars who have biases, flaws, and preferences, all of which go to make them more real.
So how do you go about building brand authenticity in the metaverse? It is a deliberate process that involves at least four things, consistency, walking the talk, being real, and conversing with your customers. Brand consistency refers to how you go about doing your messaging in a way that is in tandem with your brand identity and values. This is important. It is not just about creating or recreating logos. It is ensuring that however you do it, your message has to be put out consistently and as little as possible is open to different interpretations. Inconsistency in brand development leads to mistrust as it becomes difficult to determine which face exactly is the brand's true identity. Coupled with this is the need to be real.
You need to be clear about what the brand stands for. What does it resonate with, really? Are there any causes that your brand takes up either in the real or virtual world? And lastly, on this subject and more germane to the bottom line, why should your customers care? So how do you accomplish this in the virtual world of the metaverse? Remember that, as we said earlier, brands in the metaverse need to be, above all else, customer centric. In addition brands must enable as much interaction as possible between customers and with other worlds in the metaverse. Content produced for the brand must also be on point. Content creators must begin with the end in mind, and that is to produce information that adheres to brand values participate in forums and spaces that would enhance your brand in this regard getting the right virtual real estate would also come in handy to enable your brand presence and visibility. It is also necessary that every interaction even the metaverse must signal that your brand is dependent. It is also vital that your brand walks the talk.
The band aid solution that may sometimes be very tempting to business building it’s brand is to get a PR firm to handle all the publicity. Customers are discerning and will be pretty quick at seeing through the fluff. It is critical to remain honest in the study discussed in the Harvard Business Review entitled “ the brands that make customers feel respected “ , it was established that there was a direct correlation between growth and profitability on the one hand, and brands that were perceived as being open, relevant, empathetic, experienced and that also came across as emotionally present and engaged.
It can be expected that the results of this study would apply just as well in the metaverse. Lastly on maintaining brand authenticity, keep the conversation going and do all you can to make it two way. What would that look like? Share what you are doing with your audience and keep it relevant to their needs, understand their pain points, ask questions, answer questions, listen and show by word and deed that you truly value what they have to say. In the metaverse, brands have so many ways and tools to be able to do this. Augmented reality or virtual reality could be employed to share content in various forms. You could create virtual open houses where you invite your brands audience to experience what your brand has to offer.
Using A Metaverse Branding Service
Still there is a place for you to use a metaverse branding service. What does a metaverse branding service look like? A Google search yielded one company that has already begun building its branding service. In December of 2021 Smart Digital Payments announced that they would launch Meta-Builders One of the few if not the first metaverse branding service. On the Meta-Builders website they described themselves as having
“everything you need to keep your content afloat in this ever changing digital world. With our team of professionals that include skilled artists, promoters, virtual builders, and even NFT specialists. We will always be there for any meta needs you have for you and your brand”
Their goal is to help companies in the metaverse. This includes everything involved in creating art to building on digital real estate. They also enable brands to accept cryptocurrency in their digital places. From this we can deduce that the metaverse branding service can add real value to your brand. Many of the services offered by Meta-Builders and other metaverse branding services would be incredibly expensive to do on your own. Using such services would provide you with the necessary handholding to build your brand in the metaverse.
So what should you lookout for when selecting a metaverse branding service?
In the real world, there are several things to look for when selecting a brand for your business. One of the first things to look for is the diversity of their portfolio. This would be thin in the beginning since the metaverse is still in it’s early iterations. However as the virtual space continues to grow, there will be clear leaders that will emerge. A diverse portfolio is a good indicator of breadth and depth. It is important to ask about the kind of past projects that a metaverse branding service you are about to engage has already done. Already meta-builders, have been busy developing their portfolio and we invite you to visit their gallery available on the Meta-Builders website.
Closely related to this, also from the real world, is to find out what kind of reputation the brand has built for itself. It is important to know whether the brand has a reputation for timely project delivery and whether, in general, previous customers are happy with the output provided previously. So please pay close attention to what other brands are saying about the metaverse branding service you choose to employ for your project. As part of your discovery, you may realize that the service you intend to use has plenty of experience in a niche area but may probably not understand your business as much. Would you hire them simply because they have done well somewhere else? That may not always be a good idea. Before either engaging or turning them away, it would be good to consider whether their basic skill set would handle the demands of your brand building. Interestingly, one of the packages that meta builders have on their website is the project development package. On their website, Meta Builders say that it is a package in which they make a plan for your NFT project... This package includes a detailed document with notes taken during the consultation and project portfolio. The second question that you might want to consider is whether they can bring the power of their expertise to bear for your brand. If the answer to this question is less than satisfactory for you, then it may indicate that you should keep on searching. The third thing you should look for is whether the branding service communicates regularly. Communication comes in many forms. It could be through phone calls emails or even through the metaverse branding services own home space. Communication channel should be really good right from the time they pitched their idea and right through the development and onto the production point and beyond. There should be a clear explanation of both the long term and short term goals and how they plan on achieving them.
Sense of time
When all the metaverse’s building blocks have been brought together and are working as intended, it will be possible for a metaverse branding service to deploy the full communication possibilities of the metaverse to manage brand building projects. Fourthly on how to select admitted verse branding service, trust the process. It has become cliché to say this. However a branding service with a reputable, repeatable provable methodology will give you better chances of success. A branding service without one will only succeed on a hit and miss basis, which may not always lead to the outcomes you desire period. To identify a metaverse branding service with the proper process for your brand ask the question, how would this branding service help differentiate me from my competitors? It is a question that the team at meta builders can readily answer. The branding service may not always do as you ask them, and that stands to reason since you are paying them to give you results, built on the strength of their strategy and the effectiveness with which they execute that Strategy. If your brand building gets this right, you will likely accelerate your brand building in this new medium. A word on cost. Meta-Builders packages range between $250 and $30,000 with custom cooperate options, Meta-Builders does not come cheap. However in business as in many other things cheap is indeed expensive. Still, you may not want to splurge on your brand building in the metaverse often due to budgetary constraints. So how do you get more bang for your buck? Avoid the temptation to only look at the cost element. Look for a metaverse branding service that understands your needs and has the expertise to deliver on them. Doing this will provide your brand with a much greater chance of success in the longer term. Lastly, upon selecting a metaverse branding service pay attention to how the branding service plans to engage with you over the long haul. For most of us the metaverse is still new territory. We all hope for success as we build our brands in the metaverse. So look for a metaverse branding service that can become a reliable business partner over the long haul. The team at Meta-Builders is busy developing the processes that can help you do this. When combined with the competence, process, value for money, Meta-Builders becomes an indispensable ally in building your brand in the metaverse.
I would probably dub this the natural successor of the good old website in the metaverse. In the early days of the web, the mantra repeated quite often was: build it, and they will come. We may yet have come to another iteration of that statement. I suspect that just like what happened to the web, home spaces will eventually become so many that there will be a need to sell them both in and off the metaverse. In the Metaverse, a home space, much like a web homepage, is a place where one can invite others to share, collaborate and discuss some activity.
Picture this: you are seated watching the rerun of your favorite mini series, Jenny, your daughter, who's studying halfway around the world, has just texted asking how you are doing. You respond, “nothing much. Just watching designated survivor” Jenny responds: “oh dad that is so cool. Can I join you?” You respond “sure. But when is the next flight back home?” Jenny responds “no, dad I'll just teleport.” And using a futuristic device Jenny projects a hologram at the exact GPS location of her father's living room. Sounds too good to be true? Until now, this scenario has been the staple of sci-fi. I could think of the first time I saw a series with teleporting was in a show that used to run on a local TV station years back called TimeTrax. It was always fascinating when the main character Damien Lambert would say “visual mode” and a hologram would appear. Heady stuff back then. With the metaverse, we may soon be teleporting ourselves into meetings. What opportunities exist for brands in teleporting? I can already think of one, for example, I would like to make a pitch to a client. I could teleport myself into a client's virtual space and make the sales presentation. A training company could provide all of its course content in the metaverse and teleport a facilitator to lead the learning. Board meetings will no longer always require physical presence. You will be able to teleport yourself to them soon. So with this becoming a part of the new reality, whatever that means in the metaverse, how can brands take advantage to build themselves? All the various ways this will work remain to be seen. However, we can begin to trace some outlines. Succeeding at teleporting between the real and virtual and between one virtual and another virtual, there will be a need for brands to coordinate effort on several fronts. For starters, brands will need to be authentic, they will need to be thoughtful at the planning stage. They will need to bring that thoughtfulness in the building of avatars, home spaces, and other Artifacts of their virtual real estate. They will also need to build all of this on a platform that guarantees a high level of interoperability.
Bring Interoperability To The Metaverse
In early 1989, English scientists Sir Timothy John Berners -Lee proposed an information management system and then implemented the first successful communication via the hypertext transfer protocol or HTTP in November of the same year. In an interview conducted by the Academy of achievement, Sir Anthony had the following to say, most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the Internet, multi font text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together. It was a step of generalizing, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being possibly part of a large imaginary documentation system. It was designed to make it possible to get at the documentation and to be able to get people slash students working with me, contributing to the project, for example slash to be able to come in and link in their ideas, so that we wouldn't lose it all if we didn't debrief them before they left. It was designed to be a collaborative workspace for people to design a system together. That was the exciting thing about it. I like the part where he says” I just had to put them together”
It is pertinent because the real miracle happened when all these parts came together to function using an agreed upon set of protocols. Today, it is impossible to think of the Internet without any of these tools that he put together. With the metaverse growing, especially since Mr. Zuckerberg announced that it would be the strategic focus of his renamed company meta, interoperability will be one critical area that will determine how fast the metaverse can grow. Brands will need to champion tools, protocols, and standards that will create the base and the firmament that will scaffold the growth of the metaverse.
Just like its forerunner, the Internet could only work when common, interoperable standards and protocols were adopted, so two, the meta verse will only deliver on its true potential when interoperability will be the norm. Brands who tried to move in before this is fully realized might find it very difficult to keep repurposing their branding efforts across different parts of virtual real estate. Naturally, each brand will probably want some of the rules to work in a way that gives a maximum advantage. However, just like with the openness that has yielded the Internet, interoperability for the metaverse will be achieved by engaged brands that not only look at their bottom line but also at the greater good. And in this area, I see a lot of exciting opportunities for brands. For example, we may have some point need standards for verification of NFTS across different virtual spaces so that if, for example, I have a coin that I use on my space, it would then be accepted by other spaces. Educational institutions that host content in the metaverse will need methods to ensure that their certification is actually accepted across the metaverse and so on. Whole new netiquette may need to be developed to know what to do and what is not done.
It is the early days in the rise of the metaverse. It is truly giving us a way to expand our current limits brought about by the use of digital tools. We can begin to see the possibility of presence in a virtual experience. As of now much of the infrastructure required to bring about this reality is still being developed. For example, 5G is still not available in many countries. There is a need for training that will enable companies to roll out their metaverse strategy. Already there is some talk on how to do this. However, that is still a long way from being mainstream. And very likely, the government will also want to have a say in many countries about the growth of virtual spaces they have no control over. Brands, however can begin to work with the half full opportunity that is presenting itself today. They can begin to experiment. They can, for example start building communities in the metaverse. They can begin to solicit feedback on what customers would like to see online.
Brands can also begin to sharpen their storytelling especially taking advantage of all the rich experimental tools available. Just like in the real world, certain truths about building brands will not change. Brands will need to be relevant. They will need to understand and internalize their presence in the metaverse fully. It will not do to join simply because that is the flavor of the month. Brands will need to know why they want to teleport in. They will need to justify their presence and how it ties to organizational goals. They will need to be thoughtful and deliberate about their spaces. Brands will also need to have an AI that is clearly on the bottom line. In addition, brands will need to be consistent in their messaging. There will be a need to be creative to fully harness all the rich immersive and engaging content development options available. And there is money to be made.
According to Bloomberg, In 2020 the global metaverse market size reached $47.69 billion in 2020 and is expected to register a revenue compound annual growth rate of 43.3% to peak at US dollar 829.95 billion in 2028. The drivers that will spearhead this growth include the rising number of application developers, increasing smartphone penetration, and developments in the metaverse virtual platforms. This recent organized economic slow down has taught us that it is possible to have concerts, visit galleries, watch sports and even purchase virtual real estate to construct our virtual worlds.