5 Ways to Building Your Brand's Metaverse Strategy

Start with the basics, and grow from there

"The metaverse." If it sounds ominous to you, you're not alone. 

Recently, I've been advising brands on how to understand the metaverse and discover the best way to get involved. I tell them the metaverse doesn't have to be a scary, amorphous concept. 

Skilled marketers can apply the same fundamentals they do to any other emerging area, starting with classic questions like: Who is my metaverse audience? Where are they in the metaverse? And what do they expect from my brand?

Follow a process of learning, experimenting, acquiring expertise and iterating. This will allow you to get up-to-speed and plugged into the metaverse in gradual steps that build toward a strategic, long-term presence.

Start with this five-step process:  

1. Identify what your audience wants from the metaverse.

Start at the beginning. Is your audience in the metaverse? If so, in what world? What are they doing there? What are they hoping to gain from the experience? 

There are some universal answers that apply to most audiences in the metaverse. For example, most people are excited to explore a new experience; they're looking for fantasy and play. Your brand will need to deliver on these expectations at the very least.

Consider your sector next. For industries or brands that play in culture more regularly, like food, music, entertainment and fashion, consumers will expect to see them show up in the metaverse sooner. This explains why brands like Coca-Cola, Balenciaga, Fortnite, Wendy's, Nike and Disney have been among the first to launch metaverse projects. Conversely, sectors like financial services have a little more time before consumers expect them to have a robust metaverse presence. 

2. Get expert feedback and advice.

After you have a better understanding of where your brand fits within the larger metaverse landscape, it's time to consult the experts. Get some metaverse addicts or die-hard gamers in the room. Or organize a focus group of consumers active in the metaverse. 

Use these experts as a resource to get firsthand insights into how people are reacting to metaverse experiences. Ask what metaverse worlds they prefer and why. What do they like most about the metaverse? Where is there room for improvement? And most important, how would they like to interact with your brand in the metaverse? 

3. Start experimenting today. 

It's imperative that brands get started in the metaverse today. They can't afford to wait, but they also can't afford to get it wrong. That's where the learning part of the process comes in.

Oftentimes the best way to learn about something is to experience it yourself. Develop a false brand or create private users so you can begin exploring the metaverse. Starting with a sandbox where you can play around will allow your team to better understand the metaverse before you commit and invest in something big. 

Consider a metaverse bootcamp for your employees or assemble an internal metaverse task force to lead your brand's expansion into this space. 

4. Build the expertise … or buy it.

While everyone will need to develop  a basic understanding of the metaverse, brands will also need to cultivate real development expertise internally or outsource this talent. Brands like Nike, Gucci and Facebook are already making tens of thousands of new metaverse hires. 

This is where an advisor or a partner becomes important. They can help you identify the type of hires you need or the skills to look for when interviewing new candidates (hint: look for a gamer chair during Zoom interviews and hire anyone who shamelessly spends two hours a day on Minecraft). 

Find a strategic partner who is already active in the metaverse. They can serve as an advisor and help you build your team, identify the role of your brand in the metaverse, weigh the pros and cons of bringing capabilities in-house and connect you with outside resources like digital studios.

5. Focus on the experience.  

Now that you know your audience, understand the space and have the expertise, you're ready to start building on your own experience. But remember, a good reputation is hard-won and easily lost.  

Brands that have rushed to launch metaverse projects without investing the time and resources to ensure the experience is seamless have damaged their reputation. For example, when Pokémon launched Pixelmon $9K NFTs, the pieces were "bad enough to become an instant meme."

The bottom line.

A back-to-basics approach to something as cutting edge as the metaverse may sound counterintuitive. In reality, however, it's one of the best ways brands can understand this new space and create a plan to develop an effective presence in the metaverse that delivers successful experiences that your audience will love and remember.

Guy Hayward
Guy Hayward is a global brand building advisor and former global CEO of Forsman & Bodenfors.

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