3 Mistakes Consumer Brands Are Making in the Metaverse

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By Roberto Max Salas, Co-founder and President, Young Hero

It’s rare that a client asks you to do something you’ve never done before – let alone something no agency has ever done. And yet, many agencies are experiencing just that as they work with brands and partners to create metaverse experiences from scratch.

There’s no playbook for metaverse campaigns. No blueprint for the process. And no real experts. It’s more of an experiment – you do your research, come up with a hypothesis and hopefully walk away with some new conclusions.

Navigating this kind of new terrain can be challenging. Making the wrong assumptions, targeting the wrong audience and falling short on execution is a natural part of the learning process that comes with branching out into a new area like the metaverse.

Here are the three most common mistakes consumers brands are making in the metaverse right now and how to fix them.

1. Not Taking the Time to Get to Know the Metaverse’s Distinct Digital Culture.

Before starting design work, interview creators who have experience in spaces like Decentraland to help understand the culture and the trends. Unless you are part of a community like this for at least six months, you really can’t hope to understand it on your own.

By talking with metaverse “celebrities” and pioneers, you will learn that people in this community have expectations and personalities for their avatars. For example, when we co-led the Absolut.Land campaign at Coachella, we discovered a lot of people like their avatars to hang on rails, so we designed the top of the building to be surrounded by rails.

Small details like this are essential to creating an authentic – and successful – campaign. You can’t just make something up out of thin air and expect strong engagement; you need to directly and purposefully connect with the audience who’ll be first in line to experience what you’re offering.

2. Overlooking the Gaming Community.

Creating an event in the metaverse isn’t just about designing a building for people to enter. It’s about creating an experience that attracts gamers – one that needs to be refreshed regularly so the experience is constantly evolving and there’s always something new for users to unlock. Experiences that overlook the gaming community risk falling flat. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga have launched successful metaverse experiences that  incorporate a gaming element or partner with games like Fortnite.

You want to build creative interactions, like a scavenger hunt or a point system, into your metaverse experience to keep people surprised, entertained and engaged.

Look at what real-world aesthetics are influencing gamers and other regulars in the metaverse and try to design something that seems familiar enough but has an added edge of fantasy. Classic or beloved sci-fi films – which create worlds that look similar to ours but different enough to be surreal – can often be a great jumping-off point for building that aesthetic.

3. Failing to Build a Bridge to Real Life Experiences.

Creating an experience in the metaverse isn’t only about designing a fantasy world. It’s about building a replica of real life that’s as real as you can possibly make it and connecting it to visitors’ actual lives. This gives brands a way to validate ideas that would be too expensive to test in real life.

Allow people to interact with world-famous art, for instance or create a nightclub that never closes. Experiences like these only bring people together if you can connect it to real life. A good way to do that is to create promotions.

Limited edition NFTs or wearable giveaways have been popular among brands and consumers. Coca-Cola’s recent Tafi collab and auction featured virtual ‘loot boxes’ as well as a real-life branded refrigerator for the highest bidder.

The Bottom Line

The metaverse is still in such an early stage that there really isn’t a reliable playbook on how to succeed there as a brand. That is why it is crucial to understand how users are showing up there before you dive in. The opportunities are near limitless now but it’s not enough to simply plant your flag. You have to create a presence that makes sense within the logic of the space.