As the power and capabilities of blockchain, crypto and Web3 continue to be realized, the space is becoming increasingly crowded with new brands hoping their project will prevail over the rest.
As a team of strategists and designers, when Noir is building a new brand narrative, they lean into two things: Functionality and Emotional Connection.
Functionality might involve speeds, security, scalability, or interoperability. Emotional messages relate to vision, impact and community.
In terms of functionality, it has become increasingly hard to tell projects apart, especially brands based around blockchain.
'Cheaper, faster and more scalable' is no longer a big enough competitive advantage and won't necessarily guarantee mass adoption.
With this in mind, Noir presents three key areas from their Web3 brand framework that can elevate brands beyond functionality: Vision, Community, and Distinctiveness.
A Strong Vision
Web3 brands are not like consumer brands. They don’t simply sell a product– but a vision. This vision is then bought into by retail investors through the sale of a digital token or assets.
A powerful vision will galvanize your community to be a part of the project's collective mission. A vision should look ahead to the future and show what can be achieved if developers build on the blockchain or retail investors buy tokens.
The best visions are grand and always just out of reach; they are something to strive for which might be achieved in 2, 5, or 10 years time. They're a wider picture that all stakeholders can rally behind.
Take Ethereum for example.
They paint a picture of blockchain’s potential.
Their vision? To build a digital future on a global scale and grow Ethereum until it’s powerful enough to help all of humanity. Pretty big goal, right?
Compare this, even, to SpaceX. SpaceX is one of the most successful companies at raising cash, but investors don’t believe in SpaceX just because of their tech and capabilities.
They invest in Elon Musk’s vision: “Helping man become a space-faring civilization and multi-planetary species.”
Telegram is the same. “For us, Telegram is an idea,” Pavel Durov, Telegram’s Founder, has said. “It is the idea that everyone on this planet has a right to be free.”
Noir builds visions around where a project will be in 2, 5 or 10 years. This ensures they future-proof the value a tech project can bring to the world.
Build a strong emotional connection with the community
The decentralized nature of blockchain brands means they are inherently community-driven; ultimately, the value of any project is backed by the size and robustness of its community of believers. This is only emphasized by 'community' becoming a key cornerstone of Web3's ideals.
In Web3, community is the new marketing.
To influence and connect with a community, founders need to have a deep understanding of their community's needs and dreams and provide them with both functional benefits (speeds, security, scalability, interoperability) and a strong emotional connection.
An emotional connection provides the community with a positive feeling, adding richness and depth to the experience of owning and using the brand. Emotive visuals and language together make brands feel more relatable, and in turn their communities feel more connected to one another and the brand.
So what might we draw upon in building an emotional connection to a Web3 community?
Trust and authenticity–The community needs to believe that a brand is going to produce something of value.
Creating excitement and energy and telling an impactful story of the future.
Giving the community incentive to spread brand narratives of their own. The Bitcoin community is a hallmark example of this, with believers and doubters wrestling with their own ideas of what Bitcoin should be, what it is, and what it should be used for.
Finally, being collaborative, supportive and listening to what the community want.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but with these in mind, brands can build a strong community that will evolve and grow with you on your web3 journey.
Memorable and Distinctive design
Another area in which blockchain brands should be challenging themselves further is their visual language. To stand out in the busy category, web3 brands must think more about using distinctive and memorable design.
Instead of focussing on being different, the key to success is using consistent and constantly used, easy to remember brand assets. This will over time create distinctive memory structures in people's minds and will mean they can easily identify a brand over and above its competitors.
Some of the worlds biggest consumer brands are masters of this, think Coca Cola’s iconic bottle shape or the McDonald’s golden arches.
One phenomenon to demonstrate this is called the ‘Von Restorff Effect’, which predicts when multiple items are presented together, the one that differs from the rest is more likely to be remembered.
In other words, being distinctive increases the likelihood of recall, recognition and rememberability.
Solana has gained a cult following amongst developers and retail investors. Their logo, name and gradient colours are so distinctive that projects that build on their chain use Solana’s visual system and language in their own brands. For example, NFT Marketplace SolSea uses the 'Sol' from Solana to represent its connection to the chain.
This leads to other brands amplifying your brand vision, language and visuals - just as with Solana and it's dApp ecosystem.
Ultimately, brands should aim for distinctive and memorable and they'll be onto a winner.
How Noir can help
We understand that communities converge around impactful brands with an inspiring narrative. We help founders build their brand around the community, the technology and the market to achieve their project’s vision for the future.
Author: Alex Theaker, Strategy Director at Noir Ventures