XD for the metaverse: four design principles for brand experiences

An experience in the metaverse should accurately simulate the properties and behaviors of the brand’s physical manifestation / EsaRiutta via Pixabay

It’s too early to call it a gold rush, but the fight for early success in the brave new world of the metaverse is very much on. Like a goldrush, some will win big; others will make costly errors. For our deep dive into the metaverse Damian Ferrar, Jack Morton Worldwide’s innovation director, lays out four principles to get on the winning side.

Many still don’t know what the metaverse is or how to take advantage of it. But one thing is for sure; people are gearing up to catch or create the wave in marketing and advertising swelling around it.

The desire to move early for a fast-mover advantage is palpable. Early adopters (more often brands than agencies) are criticized for trying new things. Being first can be risky since our feelings about a brand are often marked by our worst or last experience with it. As we shift from creating experiences in pixels to making them in voxels (3D pixels), we should remember what Chris Cox, chief product officer at Meta, recently pointed out at WebSummit: “Technology often starts in lower-resolution versions of what it becomes.”

Not just a trend

While the metaverse might seem confusing (even just another passing trend), it’s here to stay. It’ll be the third generation of the internet, web3, which sees a transition from viewing brands in two dimensions to exploring them in three dimensions.

The metaverse is an opportunity to build real-time immersive worlds in parallel with IRL experiences, accessed seamlessly through any device. Think Ready Player One. Elements of the metaverse already exist in platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox.

Unlearning and learning

There are enormous opportunities for brand experiences in the metaverse, bringing people into virtual worlds that incorporate brands in new and exciting ways.

It’s essential to recognize the value that the first brand experiences in the metaverse will provide. To create successful new experiences in a world like the metaverse, we must unlearn. Unlearn virtual experiences and unlearn IRL experiences to provide the foundations for new and better experiences for brands and their audiences.

Take the digital luxury trend, for example. Some have been surprised that people want to spend money on digital luxury experiences such as Gucci Gardens. These experiences are very different to spending through traditional retail and e-commerce channels, making a new revenue stream and source of growth.

Don’t throw out the old playbook

These playgrounds and experiences in the metaverse are limited only by our imagination. It’s exciting, but where do you begin?

The objective of experiences in the real world and the metaverse are no different. They must provide value to users, build emotional connections with the brand and fuel shared experiences where people participate, not just watch. They should not be derailed by novelty that is short-lived and stifles those connections.

Brands should start with an experience design framework, incorporating four elements: immersion, responsiveness, curation and connection. These principles will ensure that an experience is impactful, effective and created to live at the intersection of content, data and technology.

Immersive

Experiences can recast the physical and digital environment to create brave new worlds. The key word is ‘worlds.’ The experience must have scale, not just in terms of space but also in content and choice. People are natural explorers; we want to discover new things and we value them more when we do.

Responsive

Anticipate a user’s needs through experiences that sense, measure and react. In the metaverse, we can create living, breathing brand worlds that respond to the audience in ways we can only dream of IRL. You can create elastic experiences that constantly evolve in response to the audience size, mood and behavior (and the brands’ sentiment in the real world).

Curated

Embrace the opportunity to responsibly harness data to create hyper-personalized, ultra-relevant experiences. People expect a premium and personal experience – a branded world to explore that reflects their wants, needs and values, not those of a broad demographic. Experiences that offer an exclusive value exchange.

Connected

It’s critical to focus on creating compelling, consistent and continuous experiences across brand ecosystems where the experience reflects the brand’s values and purpose. An experience in the metaverse should accurately simulate the properties and behaviors of the brand’s physical manifestation. It should flex and change, not be a replica of an IRL experience.

Following these four metaverse experience design principles will make sure we meet expectations and, more importantly, shape expectations for a new era of brand experiences. The metaverse is posed to be the biggest disrupter to our business since the experience economy in the ’90s. Brands willing to experiment to create experiences at the intersection of physical and digital spaces will democratize brand experiences and win.