There is something immensely satisfying about well-designed branding guidelines. I believe that the branding guideline should be the best designed and written piece of any campaign in many ways. This document will help keep messaging and branding consistent, ensuring that every communication, no matter where it has come from, looks, feels and delivers the same message. Or at least, that is the theory…
Unfortunately, it is not always the case. I have worked on numerous global campaigns where we spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that our branding guidelines were as comprehensive and watertight as they could have been, only to find a week later that one of the markets had increased the pack size by 300%, while another didn’t like the primary colour so swapped it with the secondary one.
Head. Wall. Moment.
Despite setbacks like these, it has been relatively easy to ensure that brands send out a consistent and unified message. But, is that all about to change?
The word on everyone's lips at the moment: metaverse. Everyone is asking what impact it will have on connectivity, interactivity, creativity and commerce. Predictions are that it will bridge the gap between the physical and digital world. It will be vast and exciting; we are about to start exploring new digital frontiers. Both brands and advertisers will need to start thinking about how their metaverse presence will affect their business and communications.
For example, most of the communications we currently create are 2D, but going forward, we will need to consider how the same communication will work in a 3D environment. Let’s consider that we are going from 2D to 3D for a second; from creating a print campaign to creating immersive environments and worlds. This will require some creative thinking, but it will also provide us with a lot more opportunities in many ways. We will need to redefine the brand's narrative in three-dimensional space.
Currently, only 3% of content on the internet is interactive. This will increase, because interactivity will be a key success factor in the metaverse. Interactivity means the narrative will vary according to the user's actions, allowing for further exploration and discovery. As well as interactivity, we will need to consider presence and immersion in both the real and virtual worlds, which will continually evolve and grow. A virtual brand experience that runs parallel to its real-life counterpart will more readily connect with the target audience.
This is just a fraction of what we will be able to achieve. There seems to be no limit to the potential of these new worlds. Branding guidelines are going to play a huge role moving forwards. But, are branding guidelines alone going to be enough to ensure we have a consistent message in these new environments? It is not impossible to imagine a situation where the entire notion of traditional branding guidelines become redundant.
Don’t get me wrong – we will always need to know which font to use, the correct RGB colour and the safe space around the logo. But, to build a successful brand in the virtual world, collaborating with the communities that we are talking to will be key.
These virtual worlds will, in effect, become societies in themselves. Therefore, the experience we create needs to be tailored, not just creatively, but also ethically to our target audience. These environments need to show their worth and not just be attractive gimmicks.
So, when we start to build these branded worlds, maybe we shouldn’t start with a traditional campaign idea or design or even worry about branding guidelines until much later. Instead, we should start with a manifesto clearly stating the intentions, reasons and motives for creating this virtual environment, while ensuring these are aligned to the brand, the target audience and the society we are hoping to build within the platform. A manifesto can help define the tone of voice a project has and develop a different creative mindset. A well-defined manifesto will allow us to step back and assess what can be improved. A manifesto with a clear set of objectives will enhance creativity, not limit it.
This approach might sound a little radical, but it is worth remembering that the first artistic manifesto, written in 1909, by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti for the Futurist movement. As part of its vision for a better future, the manifesto advocated for modernisation and cultural rejuvenation; it was a celebration of the machine age, precision and speed.
Maybe like the Futurist, we should denounce some of our traditional notions and start writing the ‘manifesto of the Metaverse’.