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Before a brand can prosper in the metaverse, the people behind the brand need to understand what the metaverse actually is. Before the people behind the brand can understand, the metaverse as a concept needs to be defined.

“It’s not one technology, and it’s not one company. It’s so many different technologies, from robotics, to AI, to 5G, to Edge, to AR and VR, and even our mobile phones,” explained Cathy Hackl, in a fireside chat with Lindsey McInerny, former lead for technology and innovation at Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Hackl is the Chief Metaverse Officer and CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group. After being approached a number of times by groups looking to work with her Hackl left her position with Amazon Web Services to found FIG. FIG is one of the first metaverse consulting groups. Hackl founded it to help brands understand exactly what the metaverse is, and how they can interface with it as a whole.

“Every single brand I talk to is really interested in getting into user generated gaming platforms,” said Hackl. “Whether it is Roblox, or whether it is Fortnite Creative. Whether it is Rec Room, or whatever it is. There’s a lot of different UGC type of platforms that people are very interested in.”

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Has anyone done it right?

Hackl points to Gucci’s forays into Roblox as an example of good brand integration and execution. Roblox players recreated wearable items from the Gucci Gift collection in-game. This was paired with the Gucci Garden Experience.

The Gucci Garden was a limited time event which ran for two weeks. It featured scenes and settings inspired by different Gucci campaigns from the past.

Some brands, however, need a bit of help. Hackl points to an example of a client who had no experience with Roblox, or Fortnite, which prompted her and her team to begin designing worlds within the games as a showcase.

“I’m personally working with my development team to create. Whether it’s a small little island, or whether it’s a little world in Roblox, or something in Rec Room,” she explained. “We’re trying to build those for ourselves and for our company, as meeting areas where we can meet clients, but also to give them a tour.”

Taking clients on a simple tour of a virtual space does what reading a blog post or a news article can’t.

“The ones I’ve beta tested it with say, ‘Oh, I get it now! I get why kids want to spend time here.’”

Brands need to feel authentic if they want to succeed

There’s an inherent barrier to success for brands looking to capitalize on the metaverse. The Roblox Gucci event managed an air of authenticity in part because it was inspired by previous Gucci campaigns, rather than being a wholesale copy and paste. It merged Gucci style to Roblox tech to create something new, but with the ephemeral feel of Gucci fashion. Bringing in well known Roblox creators to help design the experience was key to sticking the landing.

It’s all about community, according to Hackl. Brands need to understand the communities they’re hoping to interact with. They need to study the language used within those communities to not alienate people by attempting to use it.

“One of the things I tell brands is there’s still a lot of friction,” said Hackl. “It’s still not super easy.”

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