In May of this year, one of the biggest events in the crypto and blockchain world, Consensus 2021, debuted “Long the Metaverse,” a VR exhibition featuring dozens of crypto artists at the heart of a financial movement. It launched in collaboration with producerGodfrey Meyer and curators Annissa, Justin, and Decryptolorian of the$WHALE community. Every day duringConsensus, they hosted 30-minute roundtable talks in the metaverse, accessible via a PC browser or VR headset. They discussed both works of art and the world of non-fungible tokens (NFT).
Right now, it seems that big brands from a variety of industries are dipping their toes into the metaverse. Consensus linked itself strategically to the word “metaverse.” Louis Vuitton released an exclusive capsule collection that featured theLeague of Legends universe, including special Prestige skins for the League of Legends Champion, Qiyana.
Just like many in the early 2000s thought they would never need a social media presence (many leaving it in the hands of their summer interns manage and setup the corporate social media accounts), brands in the 2020s will need to start setting up metaverse teams that will help them enter the era of Web 3.0.
One thing is clear, some brands are ready to play and stay in the metaverse.
Vlad Panchenko, the CEO and Founder atDMarket, a marketplace and technology for building virtual worlds, says today’s metaverses are simplified virtual items or virtual services accessible with or without VR Headsets.
The metaverse of the future, says Panchenko, includes:
Moreover, for him, the metaverse will grow into the omniverse with multiple cross-chain possibilities. The virtual economy will become as important as the physical economy. “Many brands intuitively or on purpose are moving towards the metaverse which is creating a global economy on track to exceed the current one many times over. There will be no other option but to join it. Otherwise, you will not survive as a company,” Panchenko adds.
Some of the pioneers of industries to be the first in building metaverses are gaming, crypto, fashion, and Hollywood. In addition, more apparel brands and celebrities are joining gaming metaverses. The latest examples include the collaboration ofGucci andRoblox. “The House brought some rare items to the platform last year with the support of ourcreator community, we are now thrilled to announce the next phase of our collaboration as Gucci enters the metaverse in a new and exciting way,” said a Roblox announcement. Dropping concurrently with the unveiling of the House’s Gucci Garden Archetypes – an immersive multimedia experience in Florence, Italy, that explores and celebrates the house’s unique creative vision – a virtualGucci Garden space was available to everyone on Roblox for two weeks at the end of May. Gucci also dropped a limited edition of virtual bags in the game which sold for $4,115 (350.000 Robux, the game’s currency), which is more than the $3,400 retail value.
For Panchenko, it’s very clear: “It’s crucial to develop a strategy on how to transfer your activities into the virtual world and prepare your business for virtual reality already, today. And in three years we will witness millions of jobs and thousands of businesses in the metaverse. Those who are preparing today will be a part of the multi-trillion economy tomorrow.”
A co-founder of the digital marketing agencyTwiz.io, Christian Velitchkov, says that to build a metaverse around your brand these days means to create a user-driven engagement design that includes fully immersed digital experiences. Also, it’s the creation of a design that empowers veteran users to become your internal and external brand ambassadors. “Your design should be engaging so that users are interested in interacting with your product. Your design needs to optimize for long-term and develop deep user engagement,” he adds.
David Kleinman, Managing Director ofGiantstep, a creative technology company, said that a bulk of the work they are currently doing in the metaverse is for SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in Korea, which represents several high-profile K-Pop artists. From virtual characters and avatars to the world’s first ticketed virtual concert experience to a full-fledged web series and even merchandise, it’s all tied into a metaverse.
“There is no telling how expansive this can be for a traditional brand with a host of products and infinite consumer touchpoints. What we can speak to is how design, storytelling, and real-time technology can come together to create the quintessential metaverse. No matter what the “brand” is, the intent is clear: instill brand loyalty through real-world AND virtual engagements,” Kleinman insists.
Panchenko suggests that it’s a good idea for each brand to start by creating a virtual analogy of their product — digital items. People are eager to get closer to brands with virtual assets rather than real ones. The virtual items market, the biggest bridge from real to virtual worlds, is already worth $50 billion, according to a Wired article, and will only grow rapidly in the next few years.
Many brands today are digital-first. Some built their identity online before building an actual product. They can apply these skill sets to the metaverse. They can continue their digital personas, content, and expand into products that connect with consumers digitally. Those who understand online culture, digital art, and gaming experiences will thrive in the metaverse.
Now is the chance for brands to get ahead by embracing the digital future. Companies can apply how they adopted the internet and social media as not to lag behind competitors in the new digital world. The metaverse may seem like another thing to do as part of digital transformation. Instead, embrace the metaverse as an opportunity to expand your brands, what they do, and how they do it.