By:Brian D. Evans | Forbes Councils Member
Inc 500 Entrepreneur. NFT Enthusiast & Consultant. Founder at BDE Ventures, a marketing and consulting agency.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, such as the EtherRock that recently sold for $1.3 million, you’ve probably heard about non-fungible tokens(NFTs). NFTs have become the rage on the internet, offering a novel opportunity for creators, artists and developers. With tons of projects and tokens, the NFT subsector is worth billions of dollars, making it a fast-growing subsector in the cryptocurrency and blockchain scene.
NFTs aren’t just valuable economically. They’re also revolutionary when it comes to branding. Projects such as CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), Koala Intelligence Agency, Art Blocks, CyberKongz and many more are changing brand-building approaches.The days of physical brand building, which has helped companies such as Nike, Gucci, etc., create their followings, is being replaced by a digital metaverse with a cult following.
CryptoPunks and BAYC NFTs (both of which I own at least one of) have created communities of core enthusiasts that are rarely seen with mainstream brands. For instance, it’s rare to find someone changing their profile picture to a new Nike kicks or Patek watch, no matter how valuable those assets are. But on Twitter, you can find many people changing their profile pictures to avatars of their favorite NFT project.
These vibrant communities help in increasing the value of NFTs. Today, the most popular NFTs are worth more than a small house in some parts of America. For instance, CryptoPunks tokens, pixelated humanoid characters that were given away for free back in 2017, were worth a minimum of about $400,000 when I wrote this.MORE FOR YOUEmpathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To ResearchWhy U.S. Talent Shortages Are At A 10-Year HighYou Probably Need More Friends—Here’s How To Make Them
As a consultant with my own agency, I see a lot of projects early on. Every successful NFT project adopts different but similar brand-building strategies. These strategies have helped create a vibrant community for them, which means more awareness and mainstream interest. But despite the current popularity and value of the NFT sector, I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement in approach and technology.
Access And Utility
NFTs as access passes are a growing theme. This is when owning an NFT gives the holder access to certain benefits. Such benefits range from being part of an exclusive club to real-life benefits such as having access to certain works or events and even access to stories are part of it for some. One interesting case is VeeFriends. (I own a VeeFriend as well.) Gary Vaynerchuk created the collection of 10,255 tokens, and holders will be able to attend VeeCon for the next three years.
Here are three access and utility strategies for those getting involved in NFT marketing:
• First, improve access by stacking on the benefits and quality of what the end user gets access to.
• Next, you can improve the technology itself to have NFTs more closely integrated with “opening the doors” — meaning nothing else is needed but the NFT itself to physically grant the access.
• Last, the NFT utility that we see today probably won’t be the utility we see in five years. We’re in for a lot of innovation in the coming years, and you can capitalize by being more creative than the next person.
Rarity And Exclusiveness
NFTs easily create scarcity, which has made the assets more valuable. For instance, CryptoPunks and BAYC have only 10,000 NFTs each, and this rarity means anyone who owns them is part of an exclusive group. Not only does it make the NFTs more attractive to others, but it also makes the owners want to flaunt them.
BAYC has many different “traits” (visual properties) for its 10,000 NFTs. Food for thought for builders would be to make a few hundred NFTs with 10,000 traits or some outrageous change from the current norm.
A Die-Hard Community
NFT projects usually focus on creating a strong community before anything else. They use strategies such as community engagement, opinion polls, extra benefits and more. Gala Games also has NFTs, but it takes customer service to new levels and has one of the most engaged and helpful Discord servers I have ever seen.
Establishing communities for NFT projects really comes down to getting buy-in from your audience. Make sure they fall in love with your NFT, story or project. Focusing on your first 1,000 fans can carry you very far in reaching a wider audience.
Fun, Interactive And Meaningful Experience
Another way NFT projects go about brand building is by offering members an interactive and fun experience. Koala Intelligence Agency perhaps does the best job of this, by making its tokens “agents” and giving owners missions. It feels like a secret club that people want to be a part of.
User experience and story buy-in are key. You want NFT owners to feel like they’re part of the experience. Find ways to make each person feel special, and like they’re part of the story.
The Potential Of NFT Projects
Given the value that many NFT projects already have, their brand appeal will likely only increase with time, and they can create a metaverse as popular Nike. Already, NFT projects are gaining mainstream interest from celebrities and sports stars.
Even mainstream brands are watching the NFT scene. For example, Nike patented CryptoKicks, and other consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Taco Bell and ASICS have used NFTs as part of their marketing strategies. Similarly, NFT projects are already getting mainstream coverage. For instance, CryptoPunks recently signed a deal with United Talent Agency to let the agency represent the project for TV, games and other media. Thus, NFT projects are already on the path to becoming global brands, led by art, incredible marketing and community building.
If you’re getting involved in creating and marketing NFTs, the thing to keep in mind is deep involvement from your audience. If you can get your audience on your team and out there championing you in a big way, you’re much more likely to make it.