The Metaverse: The Message is the Medium

*This content is brought to you by Thomas Oosthuizen

When elephants rip the branches from trees, those trees send signals to other trees that they are “under-attack”. The leaves then become inedible. We know in forests the roots of trees warn other trees of “danger”.

We live in a universe where everything is connected. Animals are attuned to these, i.e., birds before volcanic eruptions.

The metaverse will enable a world that in theory, is limitless. Whilst we may refer to it as a “virtual” world, it is much more.

In one way it is no different from the way kids with vivid imaginations “dreams-up” their worlds in play.

The word “metaverse”

The Greek word “meta” existed for centuries.

The Webster dictionary defines meta as “situated behind or beyond”. Verse is a word we all use, as in “universe”.

Its first mover advantage means Zuckerberg took “ownership” of it.

Yet, its potential is not dependent upon Zuckerberg.


So, what is a metaverse?

We add “layers” of virtual dimensions to human experience. Inter-connected nautilus shells.

Any brand can start a metaverse, any one person can, any group of individuals can. We can create New York city where advertising space and property prices may be high and increase. We can create a quiet space where only people with the same interests are allowed (i.e., a meditation verse). We can create a private space for one person.

There will be small and very large metaverses. If someone likes dating unicorns, he/ she can start a metaverse for likeminded people.

We can create a very valuable property where advertising spaces, event spaces, universities, novelties, properties or entertainment will make the creator or participant very wealthy in real-life. Verses where people pay to enter. Where real and virtual currencies can connect.

We will have some that have brands and others that do not want brands. We may partake in some verses that belong to other brands with our brand.

The important issue is that technology will enable whatever verse we want it to be, to be that.

We may subscribe to some with no advertising, advertise in others, create our own verse for our brand – this can go on and on.

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It can be a great space for testing and learning for brands. For easy prototyping, for testing marketing ideas, for testing products and services. For testing new restaurants concepts.

Some may even allow inter-verse travel.

Yet, in human resources brands will need to invest the time and resources to create more valuable verses. Unless a brand reaches its potential markets, like with normal marketing, it will be limited. This is no different from any other marketing effort: effort pays off.

Creating any verse and gather virtual dust, is simple wrong.

The brand and its stories are central. Marketing becomes imbued within the story. A brand can be the story (Lego), marketing can be about the story (Spiderman), ecommerce may sell the item (Amazon, real stores) or an in-verse “buy” button. Items can be customised by participants.

Brand logos must engage

Flat logos have limited use in a metaverse. Almost all logos were created for 2D spaces, interactive logo’s that extend the brand language, will interact and evolve. When consumers partake in a verse, the rules must change. It is better to have a logo that engages, than a silent “billboard”. That is not what a metaverse is about at all. Sadly, this gets little attention from graphic designers.

The metaverse will change how we do many things in marketing. Forget the past, think again.

The amplification of normal websites and sales and merchandising activation, already enables the placing of furniture into virtual living spaces to see what it looks like, try on clothing without undressing and verbally or visually prompting customers in stores. Geo-locations do a lot already and will do more.

Imagination rules, as content will determine engagement = the message is the medium, important before, even more so now when engagement depends upon being dynamic.


There are handbrakes.

The metaverse growth depends upon variables like broadband speeds and costs, 5G and future evolutions of that, evolutions of the Internet, regulatory frameworks, data privacy issues, content creators, content tools, connecting devices and technology, access tools like headsets and other wearables, content quality, natural versus forced brand integration, what brands and need-solution options are available, the ability of consumers to interface and engage and the “want” to engage. This will include the ability to transact, buy, sell, invest.

1+1 is infinite

Most people already use some form of technology in their real life.

I tend to think of “layers of being”, that starts with the physical person (the “I”), the physical environment (the “it”), other people (the “them/ us”), life (the animals, plants, the sun, the moon, water, air, the universe, stars, insects), things (brands, products, services, sports fields, live entertainment, restaurants), behaviour (buying, doing, partaking, viewing, playing, fighting). Then we have an online life largely independent from us, then we have aspects of augmentation in our internet presence and activities, from 3D glasses to 5G capabilities, to augmented and artificial reality.

So, we will have “physical life” (the known microcosm a person engages in) + augmented life (as simple as online banking) + virtual life (games, Facebook, immersive technology in stores) + metaverse life (augmented virtual worlds and experiences) and the iterative exchanges between them. Like with AI and machine learning, we can assume the simulations will become easier, faster and more seamless.

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The slow evolution of humans means actual interface will still play an important role. You do not change a herd mentality of thousands of years into a virtual-only-one overnight.

The movement between plains, places and time must eventually be instant and seamless.

Wearables with full functionality, preferably at some point intuitively, will be a major force of transformation.

We will have a period of transition between prototypes and “the-real-deal”.

Gaming is one natural entry point

When Call of Duty has 400m subscribers, games are natural spaces for augmented capabilities.

The challenge is how to augment games rather than to subtract from their appeal.

Of all online activities, games are the most active, inclusive and the activity that by far the most time is spent on by many. Brands like Legoland or Disney are naturals. Banks, much harder. Verses do not need to be games, but games do many things right that brands can adopt for verses.


The utilisation of the metaverse is dependent upon six variables, 1. the “want” of people to engage, 2. the imagination of creators of content, 3. the ease of moving between different verses within verses, 4. the connecting devices (“human implants”?), 5. the degree to which the metaverse allows amplified experiences beyond the physical world, 6. verses engaging with physical and technologically enhanced real verses.

How will future computing technology enable the assimilation of all human senses (touch, smell) and the ability of technology to tap into human intuition (connecting the human brain and digital technology organically).

The metaverse will require designers, engineers, movie producers, set-designers, architects, writers, artists, musicians, rather than traditional UX and CX people

The best creators must be able to think in dimensions. Marketers need to think differently.

Conclusion: the message is the medium

The metaverse scope is endless for brands and people.

Unless a brand spends the time, effort and resources, do not create a metaverse.

It is not a marketing tool; it is a tool that embeds brands into a consumer’s world.

For more information on Dr Thomas Brand, click here

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