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Character + User Design

As we move towards a new era of storytelling in a world of not only immersive storytelling, but also with AI systems that  / it becomes more important to consider the role of data in building out responsive storytelling. 

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Once upon a time, character used to mean something quite different.


Narrative User Data

Going back to movement, and embodied cognition, there is also a lot of research about the link between the body and emotions, and some theories even posit that emotions are a solely physiological response. So there is a lot of power when we are talking about the movements of an embodied self within a virtual space, once the participant recognizes the body as their own.


Which, as studies have shown time and again, the barrier to this embodiment isn’t very high, as long as motion is synced without lag between real and virtual actions. Add in some haptics, and other perceptual tricks, and you do even better. 


Perceptually, most of our senses are very easy to fool. Create a two-inch lip on the floor that corresponds with a moment teetering off the edge of a cliff within the VR experience, and that wobble at the edge is often enough to create that feeling that you are about to fall off the cliff. Or consider that the brain’s understanding of turns and movement within space is terribly faulty and can be used to gradually turn someone around 180 degrees while still thinking that they’re walking straight ahead.

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.

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2. New Engagement Metrics

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Expansion into the metaverse 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.

Perhaps second most important is the ability of these new 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.

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3. Designing Engaging Touchpoints

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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 that 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. 

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