The term "metaverse" is being thrown left and right by the media. For an outsider, it may seem that it's just a buzzword used to get the reader's attention. But the truth is, in many ways, the metaverse is being built right in front of our eyes. And every day brings more players who want to take part in it.
If you're managing a brand, now is the best time to embrace and add metaverse to your strategy. Here are a few ways how you can do it.
1. Combine physical and digital experiences
If your brand already has a strong physical presence, adding a digital component on top of it is a great way to get started with the metaverse. You may even turn it around to appeal to the digital-first community while provoking the interest of your existing fans. There are many ways how you can approach it.
Create a virtual retail experience
Many retail stores had to shut doors of their physical locations during the pandemic. But at the same time, it was an opportunity for them to focus on expanding their digital presence.
During the 2021 London Marathon, New Balance partnered with SportsShoes.com to create a New Balance London SQ virtual store. Users could explore it on the web, purchase apparel, and even try it on Ready Player Me avatars. It was a time-limited activation, but the New Balance outfits remained accessible to the users of the Ready Player Me platform and are compatible with hundreds of apps and games.
Build an AR (augmented reality) experience
Every year, we are getting a step closer to an everyday pair of augmented reality glasses that don't look like a sci-fi computer or an on-face camera. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. What's already here, though, are augmented reality mobile applications that now support real-life object occlusion and multiplayer experiences.
Warner Bros. partnered with Yahoo for the premier of the Dune movie to create an augmented reality experience powered by 8th Wall's WebAR technology (now part of Niantic) and built by Aircards. The experience allowed fans of the movie to create a 3D avatar wearing outfits from the movie and place it anywhere in the real world using just a web browser on their phones.
Bring your physical products to digital
Perhaps the most interesting approach to embracing the metaverse in a brand's strategy is taking the existing physical products and making them available in virtual experiences.
Charli Cohen, a British fashion designer who blurs lines between physical and digital fashion, has been a pioneer in this area. Her Kaleidorip collection was sold in London's Selfridges and in an immersive "brandiverse" experience called Electric/City, co-created with Yahoo. Consumers could purchase both physical and digital versions of the garments. The latter were also compatible with Ready Player Me avatars and supported apps and games.
More recently, an Inditex-owned Pull&Bear brand created a collection that’s available both in physical form as well as free avatar customization options on the Ready Player Me platform. The collection was featured in Pull&Bear stores around the world and in the brand’s immersive experience. Soon, the company will launch a virtual reality game for the Meta Quest 2 platform.
2. Create digital-first products
After testing the metaverse waters, you can dive deeper and start thinking digital-first. The metaverse might still be in its early days, but plenty of opportunities await your brand today.
Create your own wearable NFTs for avatars
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, took the tech industry by storm last year. Their biggest advantage is giving the ownership of digital assets directly to the users who no longer have to rely on centralized platforms. For many, NFTs are still an area for discussion due to their high transaction fees (called gas fees) and their impact on the environment.
But these are becoming past problems as Ethereum is moving to the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, and other, more sustainable blockchains like Solana and Cardano are gaining more traction. This opens doors for more mainstream adoption of NFTs.
An NFT doesn't have to be a 2D JPEG – it can be a 3D asset or a digital fashion piece. And platforms like Ready Player Me provide a completely new utility beyond Twitter profile pictures – they become wearable assets for 3D avatars. Holders of compatible NFTs can finally take their belongings to the virtual worlds they like. This wasn’t possible in locked-down experiences of the Web 2.0 era.
The EDM musician deadmau5 took his iconic helmet and partnered with the artist Nick “Smearballs” DenBoer to create the Head5 collection featuring 5,555 unique wearable NFTs. They are fully compatible with Ready Player Me avatars and soon will work with The Sandbox platform. The NFTs also offer utility in-real-life (IRL) – guest-list access for deadmau5' shows.
Create your own avatar collection
Creating avatar customization options might not be enough to bring your brand's identity forward. In this case, you should explore creating your avatar collection from scratch.
Adidas Originals have created the Ozworld avatars inspired by their apparel collection under the same name. Users have to answer questions to describe their personalities to make the avatars. A machine learning algorithm chooses the most fitting traits based on that. The avatars are compatible with the Ready Player Me platform and hundreds of apps and games supporting our avatars.
3. Bring your brand to virtual worlds
When you're ready to go all-in, it's time for you to set up your brand's virtual presence in the metaverse.
Host a virtual event or concert
One of the easiest ways to set your foot through metaverse's doorstep is by utilizing the existing platforms and hosting a virtual event. It can be a regular gathering for your community, a virtual music festival, or a digital fashion show.
During the last edition of the Non-Fungible Conference in Lisbon, The Nemesis hosted a virtual version of the event, featuring an NFT art gallery, a virtual stage, and challenges for the attendees. The platform allowed anyone to access the event through The Nemesis mobile and web apps.
Own your branded virtual space or land
Many metaverse platforms are based on an idea of virtual land – a finite number of virtual worlds where users or companies can build their own experience and host other users. For brands, it's a perfect opportunity to create a gamified experience or set up a virtual store with digital products.
Many platforms are building on top of the idea of virtual lands—each with a slightly different take and technical foundation. Somnium Space, for example, is based on both Ethereum and Solana blockchain and lets its users buy and build on virtual parcels. Pavia and Portals are building similar platforms but based on the Cardano and Solana blockchains respectively.
The Sandbox is one of the most successful platforms in this area. They already hosted branded experiences and content from RTFKT (owned by Nike), Snoop Dog, deadmau5, Atari, and others.
Build your own metaverse
If you want full control over your brand's virtual experience, you can build your own platform from scratch. It's much more resource-intense than collaborating with an existing platform, but not impossible. You can rely on existing gaming engines like Unity or Unreal, create your own digital assets, and bring avatars like Ready Player Me.
If hiring a team of game developers isn’t an option for you, you can utilize open-source platforms like Mozilla Hubs or tools provided by companies like 8th Wall and Anything World. They give you a great foundation to build your own virtual world without having to dedicate a lot of resources.
A Volkswagen-owned sports car brand, CUPRA, is doing just that. They are building a virtual world called METAHYPE in collaboration with the digital agency VISYON. It will be a virtual island hosting experiences from CUPRA as well as other brands, including Barcelona's biggest music festival, Primavera Sound. Users will be able to explore the island using Ready Player Me avatars wearing custom outfits created by CUPRA and other brands.
Don't wait to get started with the metaverse
The metaverse is already here. There are many opportunities for you and your brand to engage with it today. Regardless of the option that fits you the most at the moment, the Ready Player Me platform gives you a great foundation to utilize metaverse in your brand strategy. You can bring your digital assets, create an immersive experience with one of our partners, or create a whole new virtual world.