Choo emphasises that “people want to be immersed and be a part of the brand story,” encouraging businesses to amplify the metaverse experience to encompass what character the brand already exudes before considering how to scale outside of the metaverse.
Chua suggests that brands can capture metaverse experiences and broadcast them on familiar platforms to drum up attention and increase potential metaverse engagement. A company’s metaverse presence should feel like an extension of the brand, Lee says.
Those who are already experimenting have found that the metaverse is a collaborative effort and journey, and not built by just one entity, creating a collective responsibility for brands that choose to participate. Companies that have creative tools to help brands establish themselves in this new space, like WPP, or already have a mature presence and means to influence the metaverse infrastructure, like Meta, are working together to support interoperability, assist brands in entering the metaverse, and build inclusive communities.
Understanding what your brand experience should be, what your audience wants, and being able to communicate that effectively is also crucial. Joyce Chua, communications planning director for Asia-Pacific at Mediacom, advises brands to think about “creating acts, not ads,” as the metaverse presents an extraordinary opportunity to “rewrite the way that we want to present brand values. Understanding the way audiences participate in the metaverse is important for us to nail down what that brand experience should be.”
Even with new technologies and ways of communication, people come first, says Jimmy Lee, global creative product lead at Meta. Brands need to consider the values they bring to the people in their metaverse community, identify the differences between immersive experiences and traditional content, and find the sweet spot where they complement each other to develop a holistic experience. “It’s very important for us to develop solutions and experiences that drive value, but also connect emotionally with all audiences and all people.”
Fast food giants
have been quick to take advantage of the new digital landscape’s advertising potential. Companies like Wendy’s
and Chipotle created “shopfronts” for their products in the metaverse that allowed users to explore, play games, experience virtual meals, and even place food orders to be delivered in the real world. A virtual version
of Japan’s Shibuya neighbourhood showed off the e-commerce and entertainment capabilities of the metaverse. Launched during the pandemic, the digital campaign celebrated Halloween virtually and brought together notable brands and performers, with 50,000 people tuning in to explore the themed environment. Lee also cites the example of a museum in Berlin
, which used digital twins to reimagine the architecture of the building and create a virtual experience that complemented the physical exhibition space.
As technology evolves to support the budding metaverse, companies are still discovering how to translate their real-world business into virtual. As ROIs are challenging to measure within such immersive environments, companies should focus on the purpose behind their metaverse presence. “Participate with a purpose. Invest time and effort. Be there and be present,” urges Nick Pan, chief commerce & strategy officer at VMLY&R Asia. Chua puts forth that, instead of measuring ROIs, brands should think about success in the metaverse from a learning mindset, and evaluate lessons learned in “our journey towards incorporating our brands into the metaverse. Being able to address, understand, and score ourselves against that is progress.”
Building a safer metaverse
Responsibility is everything in an emerging space, and Teo notes that brands should be driven by compelling but simple principles. Avoid surprises — companies need to be “super transparent about how products work and how data is going to be used.” At the same time, provide your users with controls to empower them to “take charge of their own experiences.”
Even though the metaverse is a virtual space, it should still reflect and represent the diversity of the real world. Brands have an opportunity to lean into passionate communities to help shape a safe environment where users of all backgrounds, cultures, languages, interests, and values feel welcomed. Representation matters — Chua and Lee agree that “audiences should feel safe, be seen, and feel valued.” It’s their responsibility to moderate and manage an inclusive space and seize the opportunity to be leaders in diversity and equality.
Prioritising positivity and upliftment as business imperatives will drive the metaverse forward in building an ecosystem where everyone can participate and feel safe and included. Putting people first means that fostering diverse and inclusive spaces is paramount — much like in the real world. Diverse voices and needs must be able to find a (virtual) home in the metaverse for it to be considered safe and responsible, allowing all kinds of users to flourish. A study by Wunderman Thompson revealed that “children are finding their way into adult-centred realms, causing concerns amongst parents,” highlighting an urgent need for brands to create a secure environment in the metaverse where children’s privacy and digital experience are protected. Partnering with not just companies and businesses, but also public interest groups, diverse communities, and academia sets the right foundations in place to co-create a safe and inclusive metaverse that is truly accessible for everyone.
Diving into any new channels requires a balancing act of maintaining core values while “understanding the cultural behaviours that are forming within the metaverse” before interacting with audiences or growing their businesses. In an unregulated environment, Pan believes companies should be “involved first-hand to really understand the ongoings within the environment itself, and then make a decision [on] how [to] tweak the brand values that we have and the way we interact with audiences.”
There has never been a better time to build into the metaverse. In this exciting space where “new digital cultures are in their infancy,” brands who take the plunge can form meaningful contributions to mould this virtual world, set precedents, and play a part in spearheading new experiences. As the metaverse takes shape through the collective efforts of many, coming together as an industry to construct a connected ecosystem is key, and participants in this digital space must embrace the responsibility of developing an inclusive metaverse for good. Moving at a rapid pace, the technologies that companies like Meta and WPP are building will entice customers to follow, providing the opportunity for brands to participate with a purpose and positively enrich a virtual environment.
In closing, Christina Peyton, VP marketing & growth APAC, WPP, said, “It’s clear that the way brands, clients, agencies, and platforms will navigate the metaverse is by working together and forming productive partnerships. In a world that is changing more than ever before, we need to ensure partnerships that work together, and drive creativity and opportunity into the metaverse coupled with a commitment to responsibility, safety, and self-regulation. It is clear to WPP that this is a nascent opportunity. We believe that only by working together can we build a better metaverse, and that has clearly been proven today.”