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Brand Experience Ecosystems
A group of evolving consumer behaviors (call it the attention economy, the creator economy, or participatory culture) have converged to reshape expectations on what the role of the brand is. Brands are faced with an ever-expanding scope of what their role in the cultural marketplace requires. Consumer interaction now extends beyond simply purchasing product and includes the consumption of content and experiences, with brand as the central element driving these engagements.
1. A New Definition of
Designing for the Consumer
Beyond the functional user experience of product (what we think of as traditional user experience), brands need to think of the experience of consumers as they relate to the brand beyond the product (user journey through brand touchpoints). In the context of Web3 and the metaverse, these branded touchpoints are near-infinite. With the expanded rise of touchpoints, brands are no longer expected to use experiences solely as a means of drawing attention to the brand, but as a way of extending the contexts in which consumers can engage with the brand.
Crucially, this now involves an additional way of engaging with brands that prioritizes engagement in the context of game experiences related to the metaverse and virtual product.
From a brand perspective, the value proposition for creating these additional touchpoints is evolving. Previously, creating new points of interaction proved valuable when it drew press attention or when it was a product that could be monetized. Branded content served the role of bolstering brand equity or credibility or recognition over time.
However, experience design within the context of the metaverse takes these ideas further and provides a way of not only socializing brand narratives or creating a context for product deployment, but also creates a context for consumers to engage with the brand beyond product. Brands are now not just purveyors of product, but also providers of experiences—playful, narrative experiences that are part of the experience fabric of the lives of consumers and can meet them where they are.
Collectively, this collection of touchpoints forms the Brand Experience Ecosystem.
2. New Engagement Metrics
Expansion into the metaverse/the web3 space/etc is based on a fundamental expansion of the role of brands and how they position themselves to their consumers. The value of these expanded interactions and the way to craft new modes of monetization and metrics around this expanded category of engagement is still evolving. Instead of solely thinking of revenue, the metrics through which we are evaluating value for companies includes the increasingly hard-to-attain attention of the consumer.
As we begin to see the engagement of individuals across these types, the types of behaviors that we can measure and the implications and utility of those measurements change.
For instance, many brands’ forays into the Web3 space are earned and owned plays that fall under the category of brand behaviors but don’t necessarily drive KPIs related to product or narrative.
Also important is the ability of these additional touchpoints to create a new revenue stream. Beyond the ability to purchase virtual product, this involves brands considering how to extend the monetizable product experience.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, these additional touchpoints of the Brand Experience Ecosystem allow the brand to build their IP over time in a way that can build passionate fan communities.
This helps the brand transition over time from being solely a product brand to being an
3. Designing Engaging Touchpoints
Within a brand experience ecosystem, each piece of the ecosystem—from marketing to product to community—can build into teach other. Linked to the new envisioning of brand mechanics, this now means that the purpose of teach activation is to not only reach specific individual KPIs, but also to link to further engagement with the brand ecosystem as a whole. New experiences not only provide the opportunity for brands to sell specific product--but to build a persistent brand narrative that consumers want to buy into.
The product release cycle now falls within that continuous brand story and serves as a way to build out the brand story even more.
Designing each individual touchpoint then no longer occurs in a vacuum. Each touchpoint should be considered in terms of how it fits within the ecosystem timeline--how is it following up the things that came before and building towards the future? It should take advantage of the affordances of its medium to build out the brand narrative, mechanics, and aesthetics.
Perhaps most importantly, each touchpoint within the Brand Experience Ecosystem is also designed to ideally target a range of potential engagement behaviors across the funnel of engagement. It can attract new community, get casual fans excited, while also rewarding engaged die-hards. The ability to build this consumer journey in a responsive way to each individual's level of engagement is key to what makes the Brand Experience Ecosystem functional.