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Elevation is a multidisciplinary, design-focused creative company, bringing brand stories to life across a range of visual mediums.

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How Brands Are Getting NFTs Right

 

It’s been just over a year since the digital artist known as Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million dollars. While some saw this as a sign of the future, others questioned the idea of a future full of overpriced jpegs. But the truth is, both the ridiculous price and the jpeg itself are misdirections here. The NFT represents an entirely new way for people to connect with, invest in, and rally behind the things they love. And guess what? Brands need people to love them.

When the Beeple NFT sale happened, most brand managers had probably never heard of NFTs, but then again, most brands aren’t Taco Bell. Maybe they were gathering intel from the late night drive-thru chatter, but Taco Bell actually launched their first NFT series just before Beeple broke the blogosphere. While some might accuse Taco Bell of trying to get a quick PR hit, they managed to call dibs on being the first major brand in the NFT world.

Since then, several brands have tested the NFT waters with varying degrees of success, and occasionally, abject failure. But, the brands that are getting it right are the ones that understand the bigger implications of NFTs and how they will change marketing, brand building, and even brand ownership in the future.

Here’s how brands are getting NFTs right.

Purpose & Transparency

Consumers are looking more and more for their brands to stand behind a cause and build a culture of giving. Believe it or not, NFTs and blockchains are great for this. Back to Taco Bell for a second. When they sold their set of NFTs, they announced plans to donate all revenues to the Live Más Scholarship through the Taco Bell Foundation. And, when Coca-Cola auctioned off some NFTs for $575K last year, the proceeds went to the Special Olympics International.

NFTs give an opportunity for brands to raise money for a cause while giving something back to the community that’s donating. That something may actually have financial value too. It might give the owner special perks, or it might just serve as a social signal in the same way an “I Voted” sticker does.

But, brands can take this kind of philanthropy to the next level, on the blockchain. Through digital currency transactions, a brand can donate directly to a cause with transparent and immutable proof of the donation. They can also let NFT owners have a say, using their tokens as voting chips. Perhaps deciding where donations should be allocated.

Brands are going to have an opportunity like never before to hear directly from their biggest fans about causes important to them. And, they’ll build direct trust with consumers who can verify charitable donations and weigh in on important topics through NFT ownership.

Sharing is Caring

Through the first year of NFT experimentation, some brands have really understood the new paradigm of ownership. Unfortunately for traditional brands, the ones who are getting it right are mostly NFT native brands. This is understandable for a lot of reasons. Large brands must have massive legal concerns about how to protect copyrights and IP in the NFT world. But, even more challenging is figuring out how to share copyrights and IP in the NFT world.

NFT native brands that have sprung up, particularly around creative entertainment, are experimenting with shared copyrights, allowing owners to create derivative art, or use the NFT they own for a host of commercial purposes. Although this is a much easier risk for a new NFT brand to take, some legacy brands are getting the idea.

Take the example of Death Row Records, a label forged in the era of big money contracts and hefty licensing deals. Last month, the label, recently acquired by apparent web3 visionary Snoop Dog, dropped its first NFT mixtape. The songs were sold as various NFTs, including acapella tracks and beats only tracks, with rights going to the buyers to use or remix as they wish.

Of course giving creative control to the masses will lead to some interesting challenges. We all remember Boaty McBoatface. But, we live in an era of remix culture, and more and more fans want to collaborate creatively with the brands that are important to them. This collaborative creativity leads to much deeper bonds between brands and fans. And, in the best cases, community made content can actually drive brand growth and trust through authentic amplification.

My Other NFT is in the Metaverse

We’ve all heard the phrases “NFT” and “metaverse” ad nauseam for the past several months, but not everyone realizes how entwined they actually are. If the metaverse is to be our digital twin, a digital representation of our physical world, then it goes without saying that we’ll want to own digital “stuff” when we get there. After all, we like owning stuff in the physical world. NFTs allow us to own digital goods and prove their authenticity. If you’re a gamer, think of your metaverse NFTs as your inventory.

The brands today who understand NFTs are the ones who understand the metaverse. They are thinking beyond the idea of a digital collector’s card and more about what the NFT landscape will look like two years, five years, or ten years from now. It may be hard to imagine now how NFTs could power online commerce in five or ten years. But, it was hard to imagine the magnitude of today’s social media landscape back in 1996.

As the metaverse matures, NFTs will provide the fabric of digital ownership. Nike is a brand who seems to really understand, not what is going to be big next year, but what is going to drive business in the next decade. Instead of rushing out an NFT project last year, they very publicly acquired RTKFT Studios, an NFT native brand focused on digital footwear.

Thus far, Nike has maintained the RTKFT brand and let the company seemingly play by its own rules, giving the impression that Nike sees this as more of a partnership with the cultural experts in the space instead of a desire to gobble up talent and shoehorn it (pun intended) into antiquated thinking. In return, Nike is building a legion of early adopter fans who will proudly represent them in the metaverse while gaining valuable insight into how the culture is shifting beneath the surface.

Disney has dipped a toe into the NFT space with a few licensing deals, but their recent high-profile hire of an “SVP of next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences”, a mouthful for sure, is a clear signal of what Disney sees as being the future of the internet.

Think Big & Small

There is no right or wrong way for a brand to jump into NFTs. It’s okay to experiment with small NFT collections as long as they are done with intention and an eye for the term. Remember, every brand asset that is shared as an NFT, has the potential to stick around forever. While many brand’s first awkward forays into the internet may now be lost to a pile of dead hard drives, blockchains could survive decades and decentralized file storage means, whatever your brand puts on the blockchain will stay on the blockchain.

NFTs should be minted and released with a goal to build sustained value. That value can present in several ways, but any good brand NFT should be a lot more than an image with a certificate of authenticity. Consider how NFTs will build fan relationships, feed into a larger community, and perhaps even build on themselves over time.

Regardless of what some might say, NFTs are not a fad. Certain aspects of the collectible market may deflate over time, but the underlying tech is here to stay, and it will affect most brands. Those who take the tech seriously and take time to develop a strategy that fits with their brand ethos are going to make the right moves and evolve naturally into the next phase of digital life with, perhaps an even closer relationship to the fans that have gotten them this far.

Read the blog post on our site here.

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This post written by Elevation’s Director of Strategy, Brett Rakestraw, was originally published on Branding Magazine.

Remember the good old days? Maybe they were the seemingly innocent days of “Leave it to Beaver” and apple pie. Or, were they the sugar and caffeine-fueled 80’s, complete with hyper-color neons and so much hairspray? Perhaps, they were the nights out with friends just before the pandemic shut everyone in.

While we each experience it in different ways, we are all affected by nostalgia. Brands can harness the power of nostalgia with the right understanding of the psychology behind it and a clear connection to nostalgic concepts within their own branding and brand marketing. With the wrong intentions or a misguided understanding of sentimentality, brands can come across as tone-deaf, insensitive, or simply dated.

The term nostalgia refers to a wistfulness or longing for a place or time with positive memories. So, nostalgia is generally rooted in sadness or melancholy. But, while the source of nostalgia comes from negative feelings, the results of experiencing nostalgic memories are generally much more positive.

In a Psychology Today article on nostalgia, author David Ludden suggests, “Experimental evidence indicates that nostalgia is experienced as an overwhelmingly positive emotion. It has the effect of boosting one’s mood as well as increasing a sense of meaning in life. It also raises self-esteem and optimism for the future.”

A key takeaway from this quote is the feeling of optimism for the future. Brands often miss the mark by focusing too much on the past without a clear connection to what comes next. Nostalgic branding shouldn’t be a train to the past, but instead a bridge to the future, utilizing the best of what has come before to paint a picture of even better memories to come.

Apple, a company deeply associated with future thinking, generally does a great job of eliciting nostalgia by wrapping some of its most beloved design concepts in new contexts. To kick off a recent product announcement, Apple began with a brand video called “Start Up”.

As the video begins, a young music producer connects a classic iMac G3 to capture Apple’s signature startup sound. The sound is still present in new Macs, but the iMac G3 is clearly used to conjure nostalgic feelings associated with past models for long-time Apple loyalists. However, the iconic sounds of the past are quickly combined with sounds from newer Apple products to create a sonic collage covering 45 years of design innovation. The message is clear. Apple is telling the audience, “Remember the great memories you have with these past products? Now it’s time to get excited about our new products and the new memories you’ll create with them.”

The secret to nostalgic branding isn’t replication but instead evolution. Brands must tap into the joy of the past and give that joy new context for the future.

In a recent campaign from Pizza Hut, branded “Newstalgia”, limited edition pizza boxes were printed with images of an old Pac-Man arcade cabinet. The modern twist is an AR component that encourages customers to scan a QR code and play Pac-Man overlaid on the box via a smartphone. While Pizza Hut does a good job of replicating the nostalgic memories of kids playing classic arcade games in their restaurants growing up, they do nothing to sell them on the brand for the future.

These types of campaigns may be great for a quick PR opportunity or to momentarily recapture an old customer, but without a clear position on the future, they generally leave the consumer just missing the past even more.

Nostalgia really breaks down when brands try to retroactively associate themselves with memories that aren’t even related to the brand. Die Hard (the battery maker) built an entire campaign around nostalgic moments from the Die Hard movies with Bruce Willis. With nothing but a name in common, the concept fell completely flat, leaving some viewers angry at the battery maker for diluting the good memories they previously associated with the movie franchise.

Our memories are not concrete, and new context will often shift a memory to be more or less nostalgic. Even seemingly great memories from our past can take on new meanings as our society shifts and we adopt new world views. Imagine any great past memory of a time or place and someone else will, no doubt, have a different feeling about it altogether.

Brands can sometimes be excused for taking bold leaps forward and missing the mark. After all, new territory is uncharted. Wrong turns are bound to happen. But, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. So, when brands dig into the past, with everything we’ve learned about it, and they still fall flat, there is no easy excuse for what went wrong.

Nostalgia branding is a powerful tool to build emotional connections quickly. It’s a great way to highlight some of the things that made the brand a success in the first place. But, it must be a path treaded lightly. And, without a bridge to the future, it’s really just a move in the wrong direction that will ultimately leave audiences feeling like their best days are behind them.

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There are two constants in business: change and rebrands.

Eventually, your company is going to need to rebrand itself. Whether it’s to strategically bolster a pivot in a new direction or to make sure your brand’s ID is relevant in an ever-changing landscape, you will have to update, refresh, or entirely reinvent your branding. On average, companies will rebrand themselves every 7 to 10 years; but with the emergence of new platforms like the metaverse, the upcoming rebrand cycle might be shorter for some organizations.

This task shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your brand is your identity, both to your customer and your employee. You want to make sure that your rebrand strategically gets you closer to your company’s goals, while not discarding what is working already for your brand. A great rebrand will excite your employees and attract new customers, while not alienating your existing fan base.

We tackle rebrands all the time, and we take a holistic approach to make sure that we create branding that gets companies closer to their goals. Here are the questions we ask at the beginning of the process to create a great rebrand.

1) What are my brand’s core values?

This is the number one question on our list for a reason. This is the greater reason behind your company: the thing that gets you out of bed each morning and energized to tackle the challenges of the day. Customers are savvy, and they can spot a sales pitch from a mile away. More and more, consumers are demanding authenticity from companies. They don’t only want a great product, but they want to buy it from a great company. One that works to make the world a better place and treats its employees with respect. If a company is only about squeezing out as much profit as possible, the lack of core values will end up damaging its brand in the long run.

2) Who is my customer / audience?

Branding is a form of storytelling. Every aspect of your brand, from your logo and color palette to your email signature, tells part of your brand’s story. Rebrands are a chance to reevaluate and refine that story, and a huge part of storytelling is knowing your audience. If you were making a movie, the decisions you would make about your cast, your script, your director, and your cinematographer would vary drastically if your film was aimed at teens versus if your target audience was over 40. The same concept applies to your branding. Just because a certain style is trendy on social media right now with Gen Z doesn’t mean that it will resonate with your B2B clients.

Do some research into who your customer base currently is. This will help you figure out the strategy and tone of your rebrand, plus it might highlight opportunities for growth.

3) What does my company help my customers achieve?

If the first question helps you define the greater purpose of your company, this question will help you define your mission. You should try to get as deep into this question as possible. For example, let’s say your company provides a data management platform. You could say that your company helps your clients manage important data vital for running their business. In a very literal sense, this is correct and important to identify. But you should go deeper than that. What other things can your services do for your customers? If that data management platform is twice as efficient as other platforms, think about all of the possibilities that open up for your clients with the time saved. Could they double their business? Maybe your service turns a chore into something stress-free and automatic. Maybe that helps them think up the next big idea to get their business to the next level, or opens them up to enjoy more time at home because they aren’t wasting hours fighting with their data management platform.

Instead of your mission just being to manage companies’ data, it’s to help entrepreneurs reach the next level of success or enjoy a better work-life balance. While the former is crucial to define specifically, the latter will help you find deeper meaning behind your mission. This deeper mission should be a natural extension of your company’s values.

4) What does our brand mean to our employees?

Your customer is not the only audience for your branding story. Your employees are arguably an even more crucial recipient of your company’s branding, mission, and values. As we’ve shown in our recent post “Reasons Why Company Culture Matters For Your Branding,” work culture is as important, if not more important, than your company’s external messaging. Your employees should be totally bought in on your company’s mission and values. Part of your rebrand should focus on your internal messaging. Have a conversation with your employees about what the company means to them, and consider their input as you embark on the rebrand.

5) What is the strategy behind the rebrand?

What is the impetus behind tackling a rebrand? Are you launching a new product line? Do you want to attract a new audience? Do you need to stay relevant to the current landscape? Or all of the above?

Answering this question will help you define the goals of your rebrand. For our rebrand of Newsy, the new branding launched in tandem with the debut of a new live news broadcast. As they were expanding their product to a new platform, Newsy wanted to make sure their branding was attracting the right audience and differentiated from their competitors. This informed every aspect of the design and messaging, which was crafted to resonate with Newsy’s target demographic while reinforcing their core values of honest journalism.

6) What are my competitors doing?

It’s vital to do a thorough analysis of your sector to see what your competitors are doing with their branding. You want to make sure that you are differentiated enough, but you also want to make sure you are not missing something that has become table stakes in your industry. Having an in-depth knowledge of your competitors’ branding will make sure that you do not come off as a copycat or as lacking in some way.

7) What story am I telling with this rebrand?

Hopefully, by the time you’ve answered the previous questions, this question should be rather straightforward. As I said before, branding is storytelling. In Building a Storybrand, Donald Miller lays out that your customer is the hero of your story, not you. The story you are telling is how your company helps your customer/client accomplish great things. This story should authentically incorporate your core values and your mission.

Using our made-up data management company from earlier, their story could read as follows: “Business owners face the challenge of massive amounts of information slowing them down. Through engineering solutions obsessed with efficiency, our company gives business owners the tools to cut the time managing their data in half, so they can focus on how to take their business to the next level.”

For more on how to define your brand’s story, check out my post 6 Storytelling Strategies from a Screenwriter.

8) What is my brand’s voice?

Your brand’s voice should authentically emerge from your brand’s story. Since you have defined your target audience, aka who you are talking to, you can make sure that all of your messaging strikes the right tone. Is your brand’s voice casual or authoritative? Polished or informal? Would it work if your brand tweeted out some of the latest slang, or is a more buttoned-up approach appropriate? There are no right answers here, just make sure you stay authentic to your brand as you craft your voice.

9) What elements of my brand need a refresh?

Define each aspect of your brand that your rebrand will affect. Just because you are undergoing a rebrand doesn’t mean you need to overhaul everything. Some of the world’s top brands undergo rebrands and refreshes on a regular basis in a way that makes their evergreen elements stay relevant.

Here are a few elements to consider for refreshing during your rebrand.

  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Typography
  • Color Palette
  • Animations / Motion Graphics
  • Messaging
  • Social
  • Website
  • Audio Branding / Audio Logo
  • Broadcast ID / Video Elements
    • Lower Thirds
    • Chyrons
    • Bumpers

10) How will this rebrand scale?

Elevation-Large-Format-Reel---Warner-Media

From a tiny Instagram icon to 150-foot wide screens and giant billboards, your branding will exist across extreme mediums. You need to make sure that your rebrand will work consistently, no matter how big or small it needs to be. Part of this comes down to production: making sure that you get the assets created in a way that will serve all of your needs. The other part of this comes down to design. Something might look awesome on a giant screen, but it just doesn’t scale down well. A skilled designer will know how to create iconography that scales across platforms.

With the emergence of Web3 and the metaverse, it’s more important than ever to have forward-thinking, flexible design. Right now, the metaverse is a little bit like the Wild West, with different companies all vying to create the preeminent platform, and it’s anyone’s guess which ones will thrive. As a huge change is on the horizon, the best thing a brand can do is remain flexible. In the process of your next rebrand, consider what your brand ID will look like in a 3D virtual space.

If you are considering a rebrand and want some help, get in touch! We would love to chat with you to help you figure out the answers to all these questions and more.

Read the blog post on our site here.

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Welcome to the first installment in our 4 part series on the metaverse, and how it’s already affecting brands in some profound ways. If you’re sick of hearing about the Metaverse, I’d encourage you to find and replace all “metaverse” references in this article with Cat Cafe.

The reality is, a lot of people are talking about the metaverse these days. It seems we’re entering the metaverse era without fully understanding what it actually is. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the pace of innovation increase at such a rate that we are building a whole new digital world faster than we can even define it.

What is the Metaverse

The Metaverse isn’t a single platform, technology, or community. And, it won’t be built or owned by one company. Instead, it’s a somewhat loose concept that encompasses the latest and future innovations in computer hardware, internet connectivity, virtual platforms, digital currency, and content.

Some might define it by the level of immersiveness in a VR virtual world –  something like the virtual world and namesake for the Metaverse envisioned by Neil Stephenson in his 1992 sci-fi novel, “Snow Crash.” Or, like the limitless Oasis from Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One.” Others would say we are already in the metaverse – that the amount of time we spend in the digital realm, from virtual meetings over Zoom to chasing around AR Pokemon characters in mobile games, is enough to classify us as metaverse residents today.

I believe we’re somewhere in between. While the metaverse might be an apt initial title for our current digitally enhanced lives across work and play, I also think the innovations coming over the next few years will clearly define what it can become and will really propel us into the “age of the metaverse.”

The mechanics for building the metaverse span a wide range of tools and technologies. We’re not going to focus on all of them for this series. But, the 9 part series, “The Metaverse Primer” by Matthew Ball is a great place to start if you want to really understand all of the ingredients for a fully realized metaverse. In his series, Ball lays out the 7 categories that serve as ‘core enablers.’ All of them are moving at warp speed into the digital future as we speak.

While each spoke in Ball’s core enablers of the metaverse is important, we’re going to spend the rest of this series highlighting what’s happening right now and what’s right around the corner within 3 of these spokes. Those are ‘content, services, and assets,’ ‘payment services,’ and virtual platforms.’

Understanding Commerce in the Metaverse

Payment services are key to the foundation of the commerce layer. While e-commerce is a very common concept to most internet users, the idea of digital currencies that can be used across any metaverse platform, with nearly instant access, to purchase digital goods, and without the need of a traditional banking institution, feel like magic to many or like a scam to the most pessimistic among us. There will be a place for both traditional payment forms and digital currencies within the metaverse. But, blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies are fundamental to metaverse commerce, and brands who want to do business in this space should really begin to understand them.

Content, services, and assets are as old as commerce itself, but entirely new systems for content ownership, IP creation, and fandom are emerging out of digitally native, and thus metaverse native, creative projects and asset creation. Most of these projects and assets are built on NFTs, and should be considered a fundamental part of our digital futures. We’ll take a deep dive into this in part 2 of the series. Traditional brands need to really pay attention to what’s happening around NFTs in particular unless they want to be left behind as new players emerge with an NFT first positioning and an army of hungry online consumers looking for metaverse content.

(Read more about commerce in the metaverse here)

Building a Community

Virtual platforms draw the clearest line to the metaverse that we know from books and movies, and they’re taking all sorts of forms, from simplistic two-dimensional spaces for gathering liked minded fans to fully realized VR meeting spaces and games. They’re already starting to redefine community on the internet, and along with imaginative NFT projects, they’re building stronger communities than can be found across much of the internet today. We’ll look at communities and how brands can leverage these emerging communities in part 3 of our series.

In the final installment of the series, we’ll take a look at several examples of how brands are entering into the metaverse already, some timidly and some with seemingly wild abandon. We’ll explore what is working and what other brands can do to plant their flag in the metaverse before it’s too late to make an impression.

We may not know what the mature metaverse will look like or how brands will maximize their place in it, but one thing is for sure, practically every brand in existence will be affected by the Metaverse in the same way the brands were affected by the original emergence of the internet. There’s no time like the present to jump in and take a look around!

(Read more about community in the metaverse here)

Read the article on our website here.

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The rise of the digital age has brought with it massive growth in countless industries and generated wealth for millions of people in its path, from software engineers to social media influencers. The e-commerce sector saw $4.2 trillion in retail sales last year, according to Statista. But, for as much time as we spend online, we don’t spend nearly as much money on digital goods.

All of this is beginning to change. Technology advancements are accelerating. We’re just starting to get a picture of the next version of our digital selves, and this time, there’s a possibility for a massive digital economy to thrive. This is the metaverse. And, even though it’s in its infancy, it’s becoming more real by the day.

I won’t claim to know what the mature metaverse will look like or what bumps, à la the dot com bust, it might face. But, the groundwork for the metaversal economy is taking form already, thanks to blockchains, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and gaming. If gaming is the only word that makes sense in that group, I’ve got you.

Let’s talk about commerce in the metaverse.

Isn’t there a free version?

A lot of people over a certain age complain about paying $1.99 for a mobile app when they’ll pay $6 for a cup of coffee. I think this is in large part due to the fact that many digital goods are so freely available and copyable. In the Napster era, all music was free. Whether that was ethical, or good for artists, it didn’t matter, it was free.

A lot of people under a certain age have paid “real” money for a banana suit skin in Fortnite. Times are changing.

A big part of this shift can be attributed to one thing… digital self-expression. In these vast online game worlds, players have avatars who represent themselves. And, just like in the real world, they want to stand out from the crowd and fit in with their tribes. So, in-game accessories have been gaining popularity for some time. Epic Games has reportedly sold $10 billion worth of digital goods over the past couple of years. Gen Z, more than any other generation, understands the value of digital commerce.

What is value anyway?

Humans assign value based on a shared belief. Gold is expensive because we all have a shared belief that it is. Dirt isn’t expensive for the same reasons. So, the reason that digital goods are starting to have more value, is because a growing number of people have a shared belief that they have value, and they’re willing to pay to prove it.

You want how much for a jpeg?

Digital skins in a video game are one thing, but now people are paying insane prices for digital art. These are NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Not all NFTs are digital art. An NFT can be many things, and we’ll get to that, but first… the jpegs.

To get to multimillion-dollar jpegs, you have to start with blockchains. What’s important here is that a blockchain is a distributed public ledger, a database of sorts, that can operate without a central party, most notably to keep track of digital currency transactions.

Because these blockchains can’t be hacked or altered by an individual, and because they are public and easily reviewable, they are great at showing proof of ownership. And, this is key for NFTs.

If you imagine a cryptocurrency token as equivalent to a government-backed coin, then you can imagine an NFT as equivalent to a property deed or a receipt of ownership. An NFT allows its creator to define a number of parameters through a smart contract including the number of copies available, the price, and who owns it.

While in many cases, the same digital asset can be downloaded or saved for free, it’s not about access, it’s about ownership. Remember the Fortnite banana suits? The digitally inclined want ways to express themselves and sometimes to show off. And, this is how we get to multimillion-dollar jpegs.

This sounds like a bubble.

Is this just the new Beanie Babies? No. Is this a bubble? Well, in some ways it might be. After all, a clip-art image of a rock sold for over $1 million dollars recently. But, that might not be a bad thing. In his essay, “Well-Behaved Bubbles Often Make History”, Byrne Hobart sums it up this way.

“…even though the term “bubble” is usually pejorative, the right kind of bubble, at the right time, can exert a powerful positive effect on the world. A bubble is an objectively irrational shared belief in a better potential future…”

There’s that “shared belief” again. A groundswell of evidence is beginning to show that the shared belief in digital goods is growing and will likely grow exponentially as mass adoption begins to take hold. Even if some of these asset valuations are way inflated at the moment.

Remember, social media was called a fad. Even the internet was called a fad. Now NFTs are the next fad that will become ubiquitous in the years to come.

What else can an NFT represent?

Great question. The truth is, a majority of the things we’ll most likely use NFTs for haven’t even been figured out yet. Since an NFT can represent ownership, we’ll possibly turn house deeds into NFTs. We’ll get concert tickets as NFTs. We’ll issue NFTs as membership and access cards.

This is already starting to happen, even within the ‘jpeg collector’ community. The smart contracts that power NFTs are programmable, and can therefore have additional utility built-in. For example, having a specific NFT in your digital wallet might grant you access to a private party within a virtual world like Decentraland. Or having one NFT in your wallet might get you one perk, while having 3 might give you another tier of perks.

Right now, we are in the wild west era of NFT innovation. Creators and smart engineers are imagining new ways to make NFTs useful and desirable to mass audiences.

Artists are creating NFTs that evolve over time. Athletes and major sports organizations are using NFTs as the new trading cards. NFTs can be merged together to create new NFTs.

NFTs also play key roles in blockchain gaming where players can actually earn money while playing. The blockchain game Axie Infinity just passed $2 billion in sales volume. In the game, players purchase NFTs of cute characters who battle and level up. The players can then potentially sell their NFTs for a profit.

Who gets all this money?

One key difference between digital goods bought in a traditional video game like Fortnite and NFTs, is that Fortnite owns and controls those digital assets. Unless they decide to open a secondary market, you can’t sell a digital skin you bought, and they can sell the same skin to every player if they so choose. Oh, and if Fortnite shuts down, so do your digital assets.

A true metaverse for many needs to be open and interoperable, meaning that we should be able to take our digital identities and digital assets with us wherever we go in the metaverse. This isn’t how we operate now, with different logins for each website, and various bits of information only accessible from any one of them.

This is where NFTs set us up for an open metaverse. The owner of any NFT can sell that NFT at any time for any price, as long as someone wants to buy it. This creates an entirely new dynamic when the buyer knows they have the potential to resell what they bought. Add in imposed scarcity, and it’s easier to see how we get back to those multimillion-dollar jpegs.

Another thing is commonly built into smart contracts that has a huge effect on the economics of NFTs. Almost all NFT creators include a royalty to be paid back to the creator on each subsequent sale of the NFT. Since NFTs are ‘trustless’, meaning they operate without a middleman, the royalties can be automatically sent to the creator without needing to trust a third party. This creates a natural incentive for creators to continue to support their projects and help grow their entire ecosystems instead of selling out and skipping town.

In fact, NFT creators can afford to sell their initial offerings for lower prices knowing that they’ll have passive income from future sales and greater income if the project is successful.

This sounds like digital ETSY.

It’s true that a big chunk of the current metaverse economy is going to independent artists and creators, which is actually pretty great. But, larger projects are demanding larger audiences and entirely new metaverse native brands are popping up almost daily.

One thing that is for sure, in this emerging digital economy, is that brands need to be prepared to share ownership with their audiences. Many metaverse native brands are built directly from NFTs. This means that the brand’s fans are also brand owners. The success of the brand means everyone shares in the profits.

Perhaps one of the most successful NFT born brands of 2021 is the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Launched in April 2021, BAYC NFTs are a series of programmatically designed images of an illustrated monkey with various traits and accessories. The smart contract randomly assigns various traits at the time each NFT is first purchased, or “minted”, making it a bit of a game for rarities and visually appealing renders.

But, what has really made the Bored Ape Yacht Club a success is the shared ownership of the brand and even of the creative IP. Each BAYC NFT holder is granted commercial rights for the particular image they own, leading to all sorts of creative side projects and spinoffs. Some people have even started new businesses, using their Bored Ape image in their brand identity.

All of this has helped to propel the apes into one of the most recognizable brands in the NFT space, and a market value of over a billion dollars. As one BAYC co-founder said in the New Yorker, “Anything that people create with their apes only grows the brand.”

This sort of bottom-up brand building creates an entirely new economic model that traditional brands will have to consider in order to stay relevant as the metaverse matures.

Should traditional brands be worried?

Many brands are already trying to find their footing in the metaverse. We’ll discuss this more in the final piece of this series. But, just like brands had to adapt to building a web presence, and then they have to navigate social media and online content generation, they’ll need to adapt to the metaverse in order to survive and thrive.

For now, just remember that this isn’t all just about jpegs and silly money being tossed around.

In the real world, we drive a certain brand of car, wear a certain brand of jeans, and drink a certain brand of bottled water not just because of the material qualities, but to express who we are and what we believe in. The same thing will be true in our digital worlds of the future.

In order for brands to survive and thrive, they must take the leap into the ‘shared belief’ that the metaverse is coming, and it’s going to change commerce as we know it.

Read the blog post on our website here.

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Right now, we are building the infrastructure for the metaverse. Not just the hardware and software infrastructure, and not just the economic infrastructure. Perhaps most importantly, we are building the cultural infrastructure.

A new type of community is emerging through an ‘ownership economy’, where brands, celebrities, and fans commingle and share, sometimes equally, in the success of a project.

A theme of decentralization is changing the way consumers think about the brands and entertainment that they love, where everyone has a chance to shape the story.

If we are building the metaverse, these communities are its town squares, and it’s a good idea to jump into the conversation.

Is this the new social media?

Social media is generally considered the primary communication layer of the internet. If Web 1.0 gave us information, then Web 2.0 gave us communication. But, while early internet bulletin boards and chat rooms connected small groups of like-minded people, social media is a fire hose of information that sometimes struggles to generate real connections. Perhaps worse, there is no incentive for people to get along on social media.

Of course, there are many social media groups that create a positive experience for their communities, but the overall social media landscape can be overwhelming and lacking in coherency to many.

Before we get too far, it’s worth mentioning that the size of the NFT and metaverse community is still relatively small, so it will face many challenges in the same ways that social media has over the past several years, but what’s important to highlight is that these communities are starting with different incentives and structures that could be used as the models for internet communities of the future.

What makes these communities different?

Money. Actually, that’s not a fair answer, although money definitely plays a role in some of it. We’ll cover this a little later. But, aside from the money, everyone from philanthropists to historians, to art collectors and storytellers are inventing new community-building tools through the use of smart contracts.

If you read the previous article in this series, you may remember that smart contracts are the basis for NFTs. And, similarly to how smart contracts allow for buying, selling, and trading in a ‘trustless’ system where there is no need for a middleman, smart contracts can also aid in things like community governance, access, and revenue sharing.

Communities built around NFT projects, art collecting, finance, and a host of other interests are starting with no central leadership, where everyone has a stake in the success. And, since many of these include financial incentives, there is good reason for everyone to get along and work towards a common goal.

Let’s start with the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a 10,000 NFT project that we first mentioned in part 2 of this series. While the BAYC developed the initial concept for the project and was responsible for creating all of the art, they also promoted the project as “a limited NFT collection where the token itself doubles as your membership to a swamp club for apes.”

BAYC was one of the first projects in the recent NFT explosion to really promote the community aspect. They built a strong group of fans who regularly chat in a packed Discord group. They support other members launching new projects, and they rally around all things Bored Ape.

In return, they gain access to exclusive perks, they get regular free NFT ‘airdrops’, and they own a stake in the future success of the Bored Ape Yacht Club via the profile picture NFT that they hold. Prices for a single Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT have soared as celebrities, athletes, and successful entrepreneurs scramble to get in, giving members even more connections as well as hefty returns on their investment… if they are ready to give up all of the perks and actually sell their NFTs.

Not stopping there, the BAYC owners are also granted commercial rights to use the image of the NFT they own, spawning all sorts of side projects, derivative art, and new brands showing off apes from the collection. All of these projects help bring more attention back to the BAYC brand and that can benefit all members of the community.

Who makes the decisions in these communities?

Everyone… sometimes. This kind of model clearly won’t work for all communities or brands, but putting more power in the hands of the fans can lead to some really interesting results.

Take the example of a recent NFT project called Loot. When Loot creator, Dom Hoffmann, announced the project, some might have been scratching their heads. It included several thousand NFTs, each with a list of 8 items one might see in a fantasy role-playing game.

There was no art included, no details on the items listed, and no instructions for use. But, the project very quickly gained steam and prices went a little crazy. This is because what Hoffmann was actually creating was a community of people who would and will determine what Loot actually becomes. By intentionally leaving out details, the community of owners can shape the project in any way they see fit. They can create and sell their own matching art, develop a game around it, and form tighter groups around certain items in the lists.

In this example, the NFT serves only as the inspiration for a community to develop and grow, while leaving open the possibility for all owners to gain from the success of any of the directions the Loot may go.

Some organizations go further with the creation of DAO’s or decentralized autonomous organizations. These groups use smart contracts to completely handle governance and decision-making across the community. Everyone in a DAO gets voting rights and can have a say in all operations.

One of the early NFT marketplaces, SuperRare, has recently released their own token called $RARE and created a DAO where $RARE owners get to decide how parts of the platform will move forward. By switching the decision structure from top down to bottom up, they are hoping to set up a sustainable model that rewards their users for helping to shape the platform for the future.

How do brands build communities like this?

The first thing that brands can do is to get into the conversation. Some brands are starting by joining other communities and testing the waters. Arizona Iced Tea bought their own Bored Ape NFT, giving them access to that community to see how it works from the inside, as well as the ability to use their ape for commercial purposes.

Anheuser-Busch InBev bought into another NFT project called Tom Sach’s Rocket Factory, changing their Twitter avatar to match. They even picked up the ENS domain, beer.eth, a sort of Web3 username that plants them firmly into the crypto and NFT space.

Eventually, brands will need to go much further, figuring out ways to give fans financial incentives and exclusive perks for supporting them. This might be by way of free NFT airdrops, digital wearables, or entirely new projects and products where fans can have creative controls and guide the decision-making process.

In a recent episode of the “Metaverse Marketing” podcast, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s
Global Head of Technology & Innovation, Lindsey McInerney, put it this way. “I believe that the big brands of this era will be co-owned with the community, where the community who own those assets, not only own and enjoy them but actually benefit from owning them. And therefore are incented and inspired to share and to make something of the brand in a way that they can’t by being chased down and given $200 to be a traditional influencer in the Web 2 era.”

McInerney understands the fundamental shift happening in the space where we move away from terms like “user” or “consumer” and replace them with terms like “member” and “owner”. This is something that traditional brands will have to get more comfortable with as blockchain and NFT native brands begin to compete for the hearts and eyeballs of the masses in the metaverse.

Read the blog post on our website here.

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In part two of our series, we covered commerce in the metaverse. In part three, we talked about communities. In our final installment, we’re going to look at some of the brands that have already dipped their toes in the metaverse space and some that have fully embraced the new direction we are heading.

But, how can brands know the best ways to enter into a space that hasn’t yet been fully defined? The short answer is that they can’t. In much the same way that brands had to learn to navigate the web in the early days, the same goes for the metaverse. Undoubtedly, some brands will make missteps and handle their early metaverse experiences poorly. Others will find great success with the right insights, and maybe a dash of luck to boot.

But, the brands that don’t engage early enough stand a chance to be left behind, not just by other traditional brands who get it right, but also by the wave of digitally native upstart brands that are firmly rooted in the ecosystem and have the ability to adapt quickly in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Let’s review some of the ways that brands have made an impact on the metaverse for better or for worse, and look at opportunities for brands to start getting involved now.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tweets

As we’ve covered extensively in this series, NFTs are the property deeds of the metaverse. The whole idea of verifiable digital ownership, with built-in scarcity, is being developed through the proliferation of NFTs and they are setting the foundation for ownership in the metaverse. It makes a lot of sense that NFTs would be the first entry point for many brands. After all, most brands sell things, so moving to selling digital things isn’t necessarily a huge leap.

As NFTs started to take hold in the spring of 2021, a few brands were quick to jump into the madness, mostly offering up cheap NFTs or NFTs for charity. The reviews were mixed. It felt like a publicity stunt to some consumers who were looking for an entirely new paradigm, while others were pleased to see big brands legitimizing the space so early.

Consumer brands like Taco Bell and Charmin were some of the earliest to mint a few NFTs and put them up on the popular NFT marketplace, Rarible. While it wasn’t clear immediately why buyers would be interested in either brand’s initial collections, both sold out quickly.

Charmin perhaps drew greater scrutiny for its collection and branded messaging, “We’re always looking for new ways to help you Enjoy the Go, whether you’re sitting on the toilet or participating in the crypto economy.”

On the other hand, Deutsch LA, the agency behind the Taco Bell NFT launch seemed to have the right idea, as associate creative director Maria Snell said in one interview “Sometimes, instead of connecting with the masses, our goal is to connect with our fans, which makes the NFT world such an exciting space for us.”

What Snell was really hitting on was that it’s not about reach but more about connection. And, the early metaverse community is heavily focused on connection.

Several other brands began to take note of the dedicated NFT fanbase even though some media outlets were quick to declare the entire NFT market dead on arrival.

More Than a Pretty Picture

While handfuls of consumer brands followed the Taco Bell model of dropping a series of image and video NFTs and selling them cheap to get them in consumer’s hands, one notable early entry upped the brand activation ante. In July, Coca-Cola announced its first move in the NFT world that included a collection of individual NFTs as a single ‘loot box’. The collection was auctioned off for charity, bringing in over $575,000, with proceeds going to the Special Olympics.

But, Coca-Cola didn’t stop with the NFT drop, they also threw a party complete with a multistory pop-up structure, surprise musical guests, and attendee prizes. While these types of event activations are commonplace for large consumer brands, Coca-Cola threw their party virtually, in the metaverse, on a decentralized virtual platform called Decentraland. Coca-Cola connected the dots between the rabid NFT community and the virtual platforms that will house the metaverse, and they met their fans at that intersection.

To tie everything together further, one of the items in the NFT loot box was a one-of-a-kind Coke bubble jacket virtual wearable, and the attendee prizes were virtual wearable t-shirts. With these wearable NFTs, Coke can spread its brand name across the metaverse on the virtual backs of virtual avatars in a very real ecosystem and digital marketplace.

Me, Myself, and My Avatar

Since then, many fashion brands have figured out that they have an opportunity to double their market between their real-world fans and the digital avatars associated with those fans.

While millions of avid gamers are familiar with virtual avatars, and billions of dollars have been spent on in-game digital goods, virtual avatars outside of specific game experiences haven’t yet reached a critical mass. But, this is all about to change.

As new virtual platforms pop up, and internet users start to populate these destinations, we’ll quickly move from the familiar social media profile image to a much more customizable 3D avatar. And, as the general belief is that our digital counterparts will travel with us from platform to platform, these avatars will likely be very personal to us, and we’ll almost certainly emblazon them with the brand names and logos we most associate with.

Luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton are already exploring ways to get their designer styles into the digital realm, with some even considering new executive roles like ‘chief metaverse officer’.

Luxury brands aren’t the only ones stepping onto the virtual runway. New Balance recently partnered with metaverse avatar creators Ready Player Me to put virtual running shoes on avatar feet in conjunction with the London Marathon. Ready Player Me users can choose from three running shoe models that mimic the shoes they may already have in their closets.

While traditional fashion brands have one of the most clear-cut use cases in the metaverse with virtual avatars, they also face the real challenge of keeping up with digitally native brands like The Fabricant who have a different approach altogether. With the Fabricant’s motto of “always digital, never physical”, they free themselves to reimagine fashion in ways that don’t have to adhere to traditional aesthetics or manufacturing methodologies. For traditional brands to compete, they have to learn to think in new ways about how we’ll express ourselves in the metaverse.

Come Together, Right Now

While brands look to navigate these evolving virtual worlds with internet money and digital goods, they can’t lose sight of the real-world changes that are happening across the social fabric of the internet in tandem with the metaverse growth.

Upstart IP brands who have made a killing selling thousands of profile image style NFTs, like Bored Ape Yacht ClubCool Cats, and CryptoPunks, have also cultivated thriving communities of dedicated fans who have an ownership stake in the brand itself.

Brands selling NFTs and wearables have to understand that they are also sharing ownership in the brand and incentivizing consumers to promote the brand’s success through that ownership. To maximize the rewards for everyone, these brands must form and support strong online communities.

We’ll likely see a host of new community building tools over the next few years, but today Discord is the king of metaverse community building. The first question asked by many NFT enthusiasts when exploring a new project is “where is your Discord?”

Smart traditional brands are already recognizing the need to attract these communities and many have followed the lead of their digital competitors. After TIME magazine dropped a series of NFTs called TIMEPieces, they quickly moved to set up a Discord, open to the public, but with special channels unlocked for TIMEPiece owners.

Fox’s hit series, “The Masked Singer”, recently announced their own NFT project through a special site called “The Maskverse” where they prominently displayed the message “Be part of the conversation” with their own Discord link. And, Budweiser, who has fully embraced NFTs through a number of activations, now has a Discord link directly in their Twitter bio.

It remains to be seen how traditional brands will fare with this type of community building against digitally native brands, but it’s a smart move to start building now.

In the world of blockchain transactions, it’s now possible to say “I was into that before anyone else”, and verify it with public transaction data. Being early means something, and it’s harder than ever to fake your way in.

While it may sound counterintuitive, authenticity in the digital world is paramount. Everyone in the metaverse today is shaping the metaverse of the future, and brands that are willing to put in the work stand a good chance to be pillars in the foundation of this emerging new world.

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The metaverse is here, and it is already making huge waves. From art to gaming to sports collectibles, several industries are seeing seismic shifts in how communities interact, how creators get paid, and how brands can engage with their fans and customers. Much like how the advent of both the internet and social media radically redefined our digital lives, the metaverse has the potential to have a similar impact on how we interface with each other.

The event industry is a prime sector to see the positive impact of the metaverse in action. Here are a few ways we think the next wave of internet technology will have a transformative effect on events, both in-person and virtual.

Enhanced Virtual Events

As 3D digital spaces are a major component of the metaverse, virtual events leveraging the metaverse promise to be more engrossing and engaging. Rather than a series of streamed presentations and Zoom calls, virtual events can offer a space for attendees to explore and interact. This can mimic the experience of going to an event, and lead to more spontaneity for the event-goer. But, there’s so much more potential than recreating the experience of going to an expo hall. Virtual 3D spaces can give an event a unique presentation that would be impossible just through video streaming or financially impractical if done in the real world. A 60 foot tall Ariana Grande performing would definitely be out of scope of most events’ budgets. But it happened in her wildly popular Fortnite concert. With the metaverse, brands have the chance to wildly redefine how fans experience their events.

The Metaverse Opens up Creative Opportunities

In September, the band Pentakill also had a virtual concert to promote their upcoming album. Hosted on the Wave platform, the show was described as “an interactive journey through the full concept album.” What makes this different than Ariana Grande or Travis Scott’s Fortnite performances?

Pentakill is a fictional band.

Blurring the lines of “what is a real band anyway,” Pentakill is an in-universe band in the popular video game League of Legends. The metaverse opens up wildly creative possibilities, like being able to watching a made-up band perform. A metaverse event could have a keynote delivered by a popular animated character in real-time, or a panel whose stage transforms depending on the topic of discussion. Think of the metaverse as a medium, only limited by your creativity.

A New Way to Reward Most Dedicated Fans

As a way to promote their popular reality TV competition The Masked Singer, Fox has announced a major new NFT project called “The MaskVerse.” As The Verge reported: 

“(Fox) is launching the MaskVerse, an NFT collection / game / thing that ties into The Masked Singer. The company says that the first NFT for the show, which will be free and grant “special access” to the MaskVerse’s Discord, will launch on Wednesday (along with, of course, an episode of The Masked Singer). After that, people can buy packs of NFTs to build collections, and come November, Fox will be adding a game where players can vote on what will happen to contestants of the game show. The prize for guessing right will be the opportunity to buy even rarer NFT packs. Fox says that people will be able to trade or sell their NFTs halfway through The Masked Singer’s season so that they can build complete collections. Getting a full collection of “Common Masks” will let you get access to even more exclusive digital items, according to the MaskVerse FAQ, as well as the possibility of real-life prizes (and, presumably, some extra clout in the Discord).”

While Fox is using this for a television series, events can also utilize this gamification through NFTs to create a more engaging experience. NFTs could be given as bonuses for attending a certain number of panels, or they could be part of a digital scavenger hunt built into an event. At both in-person and virtual events, NFTs could provide a new way for diehard fans to interact with your event.

NFTs as Social Currency

NFTs have been making a lot of headlines lately, mainly due to digital art selling for huge price tags. But that is just one use for a non-fungible token. Another implementation for NFTs is for event tickets or as proof of attendance. This can be useful for events in several different ways. First of all, it provides a secure, decentralized way to prevent tickets from being counterfeited. More intriguingly, NFTs can also act as social currency and a way for people to connect. Maybe your event could have a special area or lounge for past attendees, accessed through showing an NFT that was minted from last year’s event. Or, an exclusive panel for people who have attended your event more than five years, with proof of attendance on their digital wallet. Your attendees might use their digital wallets as ways to connect with each other, comparing NFTs from other events they’ve attended and bonding over what they have in common. This might sound far-fetched now, but so did sharing your Twitter handle in 2007.

The Metaverse is About Community

The final thing to consider is the purpose of the metaverse. There’s a lot of chatter right now because metaverse is a trendy word. This might cause you to dismiss it, as it saturates headlines, tweets, and blog posts like this one. But metaverse is just a trendy term like “the worldwide beb” was a trendy term or “social media” was a trendy term. The word metaverse might go the way of the “information superhighway” or it might become as ubiquitous as “the internet,” but the tech behind the term is the important thing to focus on. The key thing to understand is that the metaverse encompasses a series of emerging technologies that open up new ways for people to connect. That definition could also have applied to the internet or social media. From the earliest BBS to Facebook Groups, internet technology has always been about connecting people and fostering communities. The metaverse is just an advancement of that goal.

Fundamentally, events are also about connecting people and fostering communities. Whether it’s an industry event meant to connect people in the same field, or an event that draws fans of an entertainment brand or performer, events are a chance to bring people together and build strong communities.

Ultimately, the metaverse and blockchain technologies have massive potential to transform the event industry and provide new ways to connect communities.

Read the article on our website here.

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There’s a great essay called “1,000 True Fans” that makes an interesting point: as a creator, all you need, whether you’re an artist, writer, musician, or whatever, is 1,000 true fans to be successful.

The article is originally from 2008. At this point, we might be more familiar with the idea of “superfans” but the two are one in the same. It’s a simple concept. If you’re able to develop 1,000 true fans, people who will go out of their way to support your work, then you’ll be able to sustain a creative career.

For example, imagine getting $100 from each of your true fans once a year. Maybe they buy your albums, or designs, or artwork. $100 from 1,000 people once a year is $100,000. Enough to live on. Simple enough.

The creator’s opportunity in this context is to establish a meaningful relationship with each and every one of these 1,000 fans. Maybe it’s via autographs, personalized notes, direct emails, or some other form of direct communication with the fans that allows the creator to make the fan feel important and appreciated. What’s key is that the fan feels involved with the creator.

But, at one point, the article starts to feel dated. Author Kevin Kelly writes, “big corporations, the intermediates, the commercial producers, are all under-equipped and ill suited to connect with these thousand true fans. They are institutionally unable to find and deliver niche audiences and consumers.”

What’s transpired in the time since the article was originally written is brands doing exactly what Kelly thought they could not. Indeed, through activations meant for a niche audience, brands are building those connections more and more. The amazing thing is that these activations don’t have to reach a lot of people to work. They just have to reach the right people.

So how are brands doing this?

Marketing You Can Lift

One of my favorite examples is the 100 lb. coupon from Second Skin Athleticwear. The Dick’s Sporting Goods brand had the ingenious idea to make a coupon that weighs a full 100 lbs., and they hid one at various athletic competitions around the country. You could be running through Tough Mudder, find the 100 lb. coupon, and then carry it all the way back to the store to redeem up to $500 worth of merchandise. The result was fantastic: 4.5 million organic media impressions, and 100% redemption rate of the coupon. Every one of these enormous coupons was redeemed by some ambitious athlete, and their friends shared the story on social media.

This idea isn’t scalable, but it worked because the brand identified the right audience, found them where they would naturally be, and gave them a memorable experience. You can bet that those hard-working athletes were happy to get $500 worth of free gear just to do something that would appeal to them regardless. The brand seized an opportunity to generate a powerful moment, and gained true fans because of it.

Stuffing You with Joy

Another great example is Lysol’s Teddy Repair. We all know that kids love their stuffed animals, so much so that they start falling apart after years of cuddling. Cue Lysol and their Teddy Repair project. Kids could send off their damaged stuffed animals and the brand would repair them. Restuffed, patched, and cleaned. Now kids wouldn’t have to say goodbye to their most beloved stuffed animals when they’d normally have to be tossed out. This project only mattered to a few kids and their parents, but the impact the project had on those families turned them from casual buyers into lifelong fans. The brand saw an opportunity to affect a small group of people, helped them in a significant way, and created a meaningful relationship.

Impact > Reach

Perhaps the most powerful example in recent memory is the Cannes Grand Prix winner, Xbox Adaptive Controller. McCann New York helped Microsoft develop a new controller that allows the accessibility community to enjoy the gaming experience in the same way other people take for granted. This simple act revolutionized the gaming experience for an entire community that was struggling to participate. What a powerful execution! The brand was able to create a moment for a small, yet impactful group, which not only resulted in the brand winning the highest creative honor in the world, but led to a meaningful change for the people they sought to help.

If that’s not creating true fans, I don’t know what is.

Noting the Significance

Brands often try to cover as much ground as they possibly can when interacting with their audience. These days, with as many media touch points as there are, that strategy isn’t surprising. You want your brand to be visible, after all. But there’s an important lesson to consider when we think about these smaller moments where brands find a bigger purpose, and that lesson is to remember that your product has to mean something to someone. That’s how you turn a casual consumer into a lifelong fan.

Read the article on our website here.