Over the past year or two, the term “metaverse” has become firmly ingrained in the public consciousness. Describing a ubiquitous virtual world made up of interconnected digital services, the Metaverse holds great promise for brands and the creator economy. However, the Metaverse is uncharted territory, and various strategies will be needed to maximize the impact of branded campaigns.
Here are our top tips for brands looking to enter the Metaverse.
Pick the platform that suits your needs best
One of the first factors any brand must consider is which metaverse platform they want to engage with. Currently, there is no single “dominant” ecosystem, since the idea of a wider metaverse is to have multiple, interoperable worlds. That said, some virtual worlds are more popular than others, and many offer services tailored to a particular vertical or specific type of content.
Take, for example, a couple of more prominent metaverse platforms out there, Decentraland and The Sandbox. Both are virtual worlds where players can explore, buy items and property, engage with games, and create content. However, these platforms come with notably different tools and interfaces.
Decentraland has a robust gaming engine that supports complex 3D objects and environments. The Sandbox, on the other hand, uses voxel-based graphics — akin to Minecraft — resulting in highly stylized but fairly blocky visuals. This makes The Sandbox somewhat more attractive for certain types of users (e.g., younger gamers), while Decentraland has an edge when it comes to displaying things like 3D art and fashion.
As such, brands should carefully think about the presentation, popularity, demographic, and functionality of any given metaverse platform to ensure it aligns with what they’re trying to achieve. For example, if a hyper-real visual representation of purchasable clothing is the aim, brands might want to veer away from voxel graphics which could warp designs.
Meanwhile, Decentraland offers enough graphical precision to recreate real-world items in a way that can preserve what makes them attractive. Decentraland recently played host to the first Metaverse Fashion Week held in late March. The event featured virtual fashion shows and other promotional activities, presenting 3D recreations of immediately purchasable real-world products.
There are, of course, many other platforms and campaigns that can be explored, all with their own pros and cons. They could be focused on sports, entertainment, gaming, or culture, but what’s important is to build brand-focused attractions on specific metaverse platforms that cater to relevant demographics to maximize engagement and adoption.
Choose the right location
While brands’ “geographical” locations in the Metaverse are not as crucial as in the physical world, it is still hugely important to choose the right spot for their specific needs. Since players can freely and instantly teleport around such virtual zones, another key aspect comes to the forefront — your potential “neighbors.”
Although virtual, the Metaverse is still a fully interactive 3D environment, so positioning your brand in a high-traffic area or near an already established popular attraction means that many more users will notice it while passing by. Additionally, just like in the “real” real estate business, close proximity to affluent areas and projects significantly drives up the prices of adjacent properties, making your lots more valuable and attractive.
This is not unlike strategies in the real world that generally see businesses pop up around successful pre-existing operations, even including their direct competitors. If the desired location is unavailable, it may be possible to host advertisements, such as posters or billboards, near such busy spots as the next best thing. Notably, a sign can also act as a teleport link in the Metaverse, so this still offers a reasonably convenient way to grab users’ attention.
What’s more, these types of moves are already starting to happen. For example, someone recently paid a whopping $450,000 to purchase a plot of land next to Snoop Dogg’s mansion recreated in The Sandbox. While it’s not exactly clear what this land will be used for, it showcases how — much like real-life — people will tend to converge in specific areas of the Metaverse.
Build a business — not just a presence
At the same time, users won’t really get interested if your brand’s virtual property just “stands there,” no matter how luxurious it may look from the outside and how expensive is the plot of land it occupies. To garner the general public’s attention, metaverse-based projects need to offer their potential users attractions they can engage with. Luckily, today’s technologies allow for almost any kind of interactive experience.
Currently, one of the most appealing and widespread ways to entice users is to offer them some kind of interactivity on your platform. After all, gaming is currently the primary use case in the realm of virtual reality, so various decentralized gaming applications can serve as a foundation on which the Metaverse can expand in the future.
Apart from bringing people together, metaverse platforms also need to offer users some activities they can enjoy cooperatively. These may include games (not necessarily complex ones), dancing floors, virtual museums or movie theaters, storefronts and auctions for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and so on.
Ultimately, brands would want their guests to have as much fun as possible in the Metaverse, creating good memories and lasting experiences that would prompt users to come back in the future, and using native tools to monetize these experiences, whether by NFT sales, advertising, or charging for attendance.
Embrace the potential of NFTs
Another essential element of branding on a metaverse platform is how companies integrate NFTs into their offering. There are countless ways to leverage NFTs, and they go well beyond mere collectible images.
In the Metaverse, pretty much anything can be an NFT, including avatars, items, accessories, land, and so on. Meanwhile, this vast interconnected virtual space allows digital assets to blossom, essentially acting as the visual “user interface of Web3.”
By launching NFTs tailored specifically for their audiences, brands can achieve new heights in building their communities, turning bystanders into active and invested members. Such mutually beneficial relationships are likely to result in deeper and more meaningful engagement with brands since NFTs allow growth and success to become advantageous to consumers as well.
Further, NFTs can be imbued with properties that augment how users engage with both the Metaverse and the real world. For example, earning or purchasing an item may also allow access to new areas or content. NFTs can also act as VIP passes to exclusive events or as a means to buy physical merchandise.
Blending the possibilities that NFTs offer with the vast array of experiences made possible in the metaverse is a reliable way to embed a brand into users’ consciousness while offering meaningful content to supporters. This can engender deeper loyalty and repeat engagement and become a “win-win” for businesses and customers alike.
The Metaverse is well-positioned to become a new frontier where brands can reach out to and engage with their customers. By focusing on where a given brand name can be most effective and best received, businesses can open up new ways to onboard users and raise awareness. It is also important to be thoughtful about what you are offering, where you’ll be selling it, and why anyone should care.
However, there’s no shortage of answers to these questions in the Metaverse, so brands need to make sure they get them right.
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