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Published on January 5th, 2022 | by Emergent Enterprise


Want to Rule the Metaverse? Symbolism is the Key

Emergent Insight:
It might be tempting to think of the real world and the virtual world, the metaverse, as two separate and distinct realities. This article at Fast Company by Molly Rowan-Hamilton reports how companies and their valuable brands will need to build marketing strategies and user experiences that successfully blend the real and the virtual. The UX for a brand has always been a mix of media, platforms, products, services, locations and more. It’s a challenge to have a consistent message across so many channels and perhaps not any more evident than in the metaverse. It’s key that the message of your brand can be deftly delivered to target audiences no matter the megaphone. Even if the megaphone is a 3D virtual world.

Original Article:
Photo: Nike

Earlier this year, Traci and Dave Gagnon got married on virtual platform Virbela. It was a hybrid event where part of the wedding happened in “real life” too. It’s a sign of the times. The boundaries between “real” and “digital” are blending into what is increasingly referred to as the ‘metaverse’: a space not limited to virtual matrimony, but one where brands can weave themselves into our digital DNA.

It’s no longer a question of to what extent the metaverse will be a new marketing frontier. It’s a question of how quickly and how creatively brands will use it to connect with their target audiences. And it’s not just a simple copy and paste job or a straightforward transfer from 2D to 3D. Brands need new strategies, new ideas, and new iterations if they want to stay connected to audiences within this evolving virtual space. Crucially, the ones who will thrive will be those who create new ways of expressing their meaning symbolically within the metaverse.

Symbolism has always been at the heart of branding: shapes, colors, objects. The way we interpret these influences our behaviors – even if we don’t realize it. Symbols speak louder than words, because our brains decode meaning thousands of times faster from images than from text – 60,000 times faster, to be precise. They’re easier to remember and shortcut meaning effortlessly and irresistibly. Successful brands do this all the time. Primed like Pavlov’s dogs, we may start to be hungry when we see red and yellow because we associate it with McDonald’s. The more we get to know a brand, the more value we derive from their symbols. It triggers an emotional reaction. Like buying a Chanel handbag and joining an elite-group with high social status or wearing Nike clothing and associating with an active lifestyle. Symbols represent a brand’s personality.

But symbolism in the metaverse is different than symbolism in the physical realm.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that consumers entering the metaverse already think and understand things through a lens of symbolism. We’ve grown up with symbols influencing our decisions, and the connections we have to the digital world only accelerates the connections we have with brands. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the metaverse as an “embodied internet.” In creating one’s own avatar, we are all forced to think about how we want to be represented in our most distilled, yet concise format, with the potential to grow and be creative as we see fit. Brands need to apply a similar way of thinking.

Nike was one of the first brands to jump behind this new digital lens with the creation of Nikeland, its personalized digital space in Roblox, an online platform that allows users to program and play games created by other users. Building its own unique selection of games, with features where players can shake their cellphone to unlock lightning speed, Nike is expanding its accessibility to even more consumers. And transitioning this game play to have higher symbolic meaning comes from the ‘swoosh’ emblem adorning players’ clothes. It’s more than just wearing the brands’ trademarked digital goods; Nike is digitally associating itself with playfulness and inclusivity (two facets that make up the brand’s IRL meaning).

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The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

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