For some, the metaverse is a faraway concept from an abstrusely dystopian future. For others, however, it is a not-so-distant reality, and we think you should be considering how to traverse this future landscape with sonic branding at the forefront.
What is the metaverse?
You may have come across the term after Mark Zuckerberg’s unveiling of Facebook Group’s rebrand to ‘Meta’ last October, or when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella entered the conversation in November last year.
Defined simply, the metaverse is a virtual world where people can socialise, work, shop, and play. Some platforms already exist, such as Fortnite Concerts (a virtual venue) and Facebook Horizon. Mark Zuckerberg and Meta want you to think of the metaverse as an “embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it”. However, the term doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific technology, platform or company, but more so a change in the way we will interact with technology in the future.
A sonic identity in the metaverse will be key in giving users a more immersive experience
Some of the world’s biggest companies are taking steps towards metaverse compatibility: Disney have just announced a new executive to oversee their metaverse strategy, and JP Morgan are the first bank to have entered this cyber-universe. So, whether you like it, or the thought of wearing a VR headset to hang out with friends gives you the heebie-jeebies, the prevalence of the metaverse in some form is inevitable. And whilst we don’t know the full extent of it right now, one thing we do know is that it is going to be a multi-sensory space, and sound has and will continue to have a crucial role to play in the experience.
Sound in the Metaverse
Of course, it has not taken long for musical performance to break into the metaverse, with virtual performances from Ariana Grande in Fortnite, and Twenty One Pilots in Roblox gathering virtual crowds. However, the scope for sound in the metaverse can go far beyond performance, and has the potential to give a new way for brands to connect to their audience in a multi-sensory way – the sky is truly the limit in this new digital world.
The shift to a metaverse existence will only increase the urgency for brands to have a strong sonic identity, and one that can exist in a consistent way across platforms: social media, TV, radio, in-app, and even in reality. The metaverse is likely to further connect these spaces, so to continue thinking these platforms and mediums are disconnected could leave you in the past.
With this new digital world also comes the opportunity for a greater intimacy between brand and customer – as a customer, you are giving a brand your undivided attention, your entire ‘universe’, in turn for a sensory experience. For some brands, this sensory experience may come in the form of a voice.
The voice you choose to interact with your audience is core to your entire brand. The perceived age, gender, ethnic dialect, and tone of voice are all vital to the sonic identity of a conversational brand, and can tell an audience all they need to know about you and your services.
We, as humans, subconsciously read into the sound of someone’s voice and form preconceptions that may influence our engagement and purchasing patterns with a brand. So, choosing the voice, or voices, of a sonic identity can be key in the way you communicate with your audience.
Creating a soundscape
In the same way that voice and music can influence us as customers, so can sound. Where brands have been able to rely on strong visual aspects alone, a sonic identity in the metaverse will also be key in giving users a more immersive experience, and in turn can help maintain engagement.
Having a strong sonic identity will only become more valuable as the metaverse continues to advance
Brands need to think about creating an exclusive soundscape that is larger than music and voice, but ultimately choose the sounds and noises that a user will experience in their chosen universe. Whether it may be background chatter, a doorbell, the sound of food being prepared; playing with the ‘reality’ element of a virtual reality world is going to be crucial to a brand’s sonic identity.
Ultimately, this blank slate, in the form of the metaverse, allows brands to entirely reconsider how they want to connect with their audiences, and having a strong sonic identity will only become more valuable as the metaverse continues to advance.