Your brand story is crucial in the quest for an engaged audience. But just like old fables the way they are told changes. Out of nowhere, we have entered a new age of art, creation and ownership. We’ve fast-forwarded centuries. The realisation of consonance between our physical and digital realities is upon us, or so I’ve been told. Crypto collectibles promise to alter the fabric of the global creative marketplace. But what does this mean for me, my business, my customers and my world? First, one simple question…
How Much Do You Think This Artwork Sold For?
If you chose $632,000 then you have severely underrated the market value of this rare crypto collectible. The correct answer is the highest – $69.3m.
What’s so Special About NFTs?
The artwork above has been able to generate this kind of value due it’s unique identifier. Just like you can tell the difference between an original canvas and a reprint, a .jpg is no longer a copyable, imitable file, because the original version can be verified on the blockchain.
All this is possible due to NFT technology, which stands for Non-Fungible Tokens*. They are the next big thing in design, branding and digital art. This is due to the secure, verifiable nature of the blockchain which upholds each creation and transaction. As brands and creators we must always keep moving forward, learning from new-wave technology and sometimes creating it.
We can’t jump on every bandwagon that speeds past.
Of course, we can’t jump on every bandwagon that speeds past. But we should keep our eyes out for those where we see promise, especially those which offer something that could genuinely improve how our businesses operate. Let’s not get caught up in how the tech works (for now). Instead, let’s focus on how NFTs can strengthen your brand and work for you.
*To understand what Non-Fungible Token means and to dive deeper into the technology behind it, we recommend this New Scientist article. https://www.newscientist.com/definition/nft-non-fungible-tokens/
What Has Been Happening in the NFT World So Far?
We are seeing overt, public collaborations between brands, designers, musicians and other creatives. They are being released in the form of a ‘Drop’, the term used when crypto collectibles becomes available for sale on a marketplace, like OpenSea, Rarible, or AirNFTs, to name but a few. They’re the eBays of digital art; there are sellers and buyers, and the buyers are able to resell any NFT they get hold of. The sellers create rare crypto collectibles while the buyers build their collections. These marketplaces were overwhelmingly built on the cryptocurrency Ethereum. However due to environmental and flexibility concerns, new tools like Near Protocol and Polkadot are becoming the go-to technologies to create with. Brands, designers and creators are using these platforms to discover new communities and add another layer to their existing communities. But why should this have an impact on your brand? On your audience? On your relationships?
How Could Crypto Collectibles Reshape the Way You Craft Your Brand Story?
An important rewiring to take note of, is how the ownership model of digital art is changing. While you and your brand have always tried to create visual stories that speak to your audience in the most compelling and relevant style, that storytelling has tended to be one-way; the brand tells the story to their audience and the audience listens.
But the recent NFT drops of brands and designers are creating multidirectional brand stories. The audience is now able to buy and own the artwork. They can purchase visuals or design that captured their attention and spoke to them. When they truly love your message or connect with the ideas you put forward in the branding, you are now able to offer the ownership of this moment to the audience by releasing a limited number of ‘Original’ copies for sale. You can do this in the form of crypto collectibles.
If they genuinely believe in the increasing value of your brand, it’s an opportunity for them to invest in yours and their own futures.
Creating Sustainable Revenue Streams from Crypto Collectibles.
It is also exciting because of the retained rights of the ‘Creator’ of crypto collectibles. Whether it is an artist, musician or brand, the entity that uploads the NFT to the platform will always be displayed as the ‘Creator’. This happens even when the artwork trades hands and is sold between others. The creator will continue to earn some share of the sale price for every future transaction. It means value of their work isn’t stagnant, it evolves with the popularity of the crypto collectible!
This could mean that a brand who commissions an artist, a musician, or a designer might buy the rights to use that artwork through an NFT platform, then be able to sell on that artwork once it’s been legitimately used for a campaign or advert. Similarly, if it’s a brand that creates it in the first place, they will continue to earn revenue every time that collectible is traded in the future.
Be the change, rather than watching from the sidelines.
But what do you mean by all this? How can I actually make this happen? Let’s take a look at how crypto collectibles are being used to give us some inspiration.
Examples of Crypto Collectibles being used in Genuine Marketing.
Charlie XCX is a musician with a strong sense of image and branding. She has consistently captured her audience through words that provoke imagination, cosmic sounds and otherworldly graphics to visualise her music. Recently she has worked with renowned 3D artist Serwah, to make a recreation of her unreleased 2017 studio album, ‘XCX World’, raising money for GLAAD, an LGBTQI+ acceptance foundation. It’s a stunning example of finding an emotional connection to an audience. The studio album was never released due to nearly-finished songs being leaked, but her fans created titles, stories and artwork of the music they heard. She also identified a cause which her fans relate to, doubling up the emotional desire to purchase.
Another, by now classic example of a brand / designer collaboration is that of Taco Bell, who commissioned some crypto collectibles from Deutsche LA in the form of 5 GIF recreations of their logo and branding.
The designers tapped into current design trends, while maintaining the Taco image that triggers recognition in the eyes of the audience. Taco Bell recreated the scarcity of limited edition items they might give out in store, but increased the value because they were designed by popular artists. The name-recognition and collaboration hold promise for making more vibrant and two-way relationships for brands and designers, where both are recognised simultaneously for their storytelling.
Collaborate with an established digital artist and make a splash with more than your existing audience.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using Crypto Collectibles.
It’s this exciting change in the value of design that I believe is the fundamental seismic shift caused by NFTs. Brand moments, Social Media posts, or Adverts are no longer one-off moments, used to maintain recognition or sell the new line. Using crypto collectibles correctly means that your brand story can become concretised in the lives of your audience, as they fight to own, trade, and collect rare copies of different chapters of the story.
- What Social Media post had the most traction with your followers?
- Is there a model who you work with that creates more sales for your products than others?
- Did one campaign you ran have particularly high traction?
If you can answer these and find out why, then these are the type of brand moments that could convert into a successful crypto collectible drop. There are of course many other questions and ways to use NFTs, these are just to kindle the first ideas. You can also approach it from the other direction. While creating a new campaign that you aim to go viral, think about how you could take a moment of this campaign and sell a limited number of files of this artwork, that will be instantly popular and valuable. It’s an opportunity to create another revenue stream for your brand which didn’t exist before, without creating a huge pile of extra work.
Some Ways You Can Start Using the Crypto World to Enhance Your Brand.
Here’s what you can do right now to leverage the tech and trend of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Collaborate with an established digital artist and make a splash with more than your existing audience. Create a cryptocurrency to use as the vehicle to sell your services, multiplying the value of your tokens and your brand with every transaction that takes place using your currency. Retell your brand story by digitising your most valuable brand moments, and invite your audience to be part of this story by collecting the most memorable parts. This is an ever-changing landscape, but the sooner you start, the further ahead you’ll be of everyone else who is still waiting. Be the change rather than watching from the sidelines.
Final Thoughts for Futurising Brands.
One very important closing note. As brands and creators we are not bulls in china shops, sprinting through and flinging our tails and horns left and right, leaving a wake of broken plates behind us. We move forward tactfully, thoughtfully and with intention. Not every cryptocurrency or NFT technology aligns with this, as some have very high carbon footprints for every transaction. Look for those platforms which testify their use of proof-of-stake rather than proof-of-work ledgership. This dramatically improves the climate impact of their networks and is the surefire future of this digital world.
Good luck moving forward and don’t let cryptos become your ‘crypto’nite (I hope there’s at least one Superman fan here).