Metabrand Metanihilism

Joining the Metaversity

The hot topic du jour has to be the Metaverse, the notion of a full universe, with all the intricacies and nuance of ours but as a digital layer on it. Mark Zuckerberg brought mainstream attention to it, but the concept has been around since the early 80’s. At its core, the term is usually used to describe a digital or virtual world in which we could arguably live, profit, and coexist much like ours. One of its clearest early machinations used cyberspace (see Neuromancer) to describe an immersive digital avatar-led universe which, much like the Matrix, acted as a “real” layer to the offline universe.

Crypto Avatars

A seemingly unrelated trend that has been brewing for some time in crypto has been the exponential rise of NFT avatars. To understand what’s happening here, it’s important to highlight that cryptocurrencies and related projects, leveraging its decentralized nature, have an inbuilt layer of privacy and anonymity which has given rise to users, developers, and billionaires who have dissociated from their real identities. They have Twitter accounts, make art and run some of the most successful business ventures of our time without anyone knowing who they are — in this lingo, they are “anons.”

the authors own LegoPunk #143

Nihilistic Metabrands

Before I get to the takeaways there’s one last thing I feel important to call out to round out this story. Let’s get weird for a second. In the past ten years we’ve seen brand teams lean harder and harder into themselves. An early example could be found in Wendy’s social, which at their most reductive were the first to use snark and clapbacks to breakthrough with an audience that was receptive to that tone and language. Their audience welcomed the approach and many brands followed into the fray, becoming more and more outrageous. Unfortunately for most brands who followed, the tone lost appeal when everyone was doing it, clapbacks became a part of the brand lingo of social and thus, ruined.

Our Brandverse

Social has normalized the playing field by and large and put brands next to individuals in an absolutely unique way. Our brand posts coexist with other brands, competitors or otherwise, and individuals who are more risk-prone because they have less to lose. The incentive to be popular on social media is true for all users whether personal (e.g. CryptoPunks = meme accounts) or corporate, and that opportunity cost is expressed in lower engagement.

  1. The local Metaverse: All of our products/brands have an opportunity to think holistically about how we are building one interactive world with our users. From support to marketing to in-product experiences, they all build perception together. Giving users a reason to connect those disparate experiences could be the key to a deeper, more meaningful relationship without the need for an Ariana Grande concert.
  2. Your users, their community: We spend a significant amount of time understanding our users at a product level and macro marketing level but few of our products have the opportunity to actually connect users to other through shared experiences — big shout-out to the Stadia team for their reinvigorated focus here. Create more excuses for users to come together with our products as a center of gravity.
  3. The brand is you: It’s hard to pin OKRs or good marketing on a feeling but so much of connecting with users through social media today relies on this extraordinary mix of art and science mixed in with a little chaos. Don’t lose track of what (hopefully) made you excited to work on your brand. It sounds reductive but it’s easy to lose track of the fact that our excitement or lack thereof is transmissible in the work we put out there, particularly online. Sometimes it’s harder to find something to immediately recognize but I fundamentally believe that if you find the subject matter boring or hard you can make the way you go about it fun.

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