In Today’s Digital Asset Economy, To Brand or Not to Brand…There is No Question
As the digital asset economy continues to evolve and become more institutionalized, companies specializing in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies would be well served to think more strategically about how best to proactively build and manage their external identities and reputations. While companies in this space have sought to fly under the radar and focus on other important aspects of their emerging enterprises – such as technology and business development – the reality is that blockchain and digital assets are being transformed from a cottage industry to what is now a much more mainstream industry vertical and asset class. If you are sitting on the sidelines from a communications and marketing standpoint, you are likely going to be at a competitive disadvantage over the long-term.
Several established industry players, including ConsenSys, CoinDesk and Coinbase have devoted significant time to proactively managing their brands and reputations. Doing so has led to greater legitimacy around their businesses and platforms while also helping them gain increased recognition as credible, specialized companies with distinct areas of expertise. However, accomplishing these milestones takes time and often requires an investment of capital as well. For those companies considering the idea of getting more on the front foot or are ready to embark on this journey, below are several recommended best practices to help guide your thinking.
Messaging, messaging, messaging
The adage of define yourself or risk being defined by others still rings true. Reflecting on your company’s DNA and what drives the enterprise is a critical foundational aspect of the reputation management and brand building process. It sets the tone for your competitive positioning and often facilitates the go-forward strategic planning process around your desired communications and marketing platform. Questions that you should consider include:
- What’s your vision, mission and value proposition?
- What do you want to be known for?
- How do you want to be perceived by your key audiences?
- What makes you unique and different from other companies in the industry?
- What guides your business and strategic approach?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What companies do you admire and what is that they do that you would like to emulate?
- What challenges or problems are you trying to solve for?
- Where is the “white space” in the industry and what steps can you take to own that space?
Once these types of questions are discussed and debated, get your thoughts on paper and begin to develop and refine your messaging so it succinctly articulates the value proposition and key attributes of what makes your offering differentiated and unique. This will be an iterative process, but once finalized it will pay dividends as the content can be woven into website copy, marketing collateral, pitchbook presentations and other deliverables. In the end, you will have a consistent and compelling voice that is competitively differentiated.
Lead with Your Intellectual Capital
The digital asset economy is still a nascent industry with a diverse group of audiences ranging from dorm room crypto traders and sophisticated blockchain evangelists to traditional consumers and retail investors whom may have disparate levels of knowledge relating to blockchain technology and digital currencies. Generally speaking, the companies that are most successful in building their external identities take the time to inform existing or prospective audiences about key issues and industry developments as a way to position themselves as credible experts. Instead of pushing product, they lead with their thought leadership and help stakeholders understand certain challenges and how they are helping to solve for them. Given the complexity of blockchain technology and some of the misperceptions surrounding cryptocurrencies, companies operating in these sectors should identify the specific problems that they are helping to solve for and bring their insights and solutions to life in demonstrable ways so it’s clear why they should matter.
Strike the Right Balance Between New and Traditional Media
The ability to reach desired audiences is more competitive than ever given the enormous surge in digital, online and social media content. In fact, according to the 2017 Media and Entertainment Report produced by Adobe Digital Insights, Facebook is now the most commonly used platform for consumers to obtain their daily news, while smartphones now dominate as the mechanism of choice for consumption. The point is, that reaching key stakeholders has evolved as a result of “new media” channels and it is no longer enough to rely on traditional print publications to manage your reputation and brand. To effectively navigate today’s media landscape, companies should think holistically about the audiences they are trying to reach and influence, and as part of these efforts, develop a thoughtful communications and marketing plan that prioritizes these audiences and methodically maps out how and where these stakeholders are consuming content and information. Success shouldn’t be measured solely on how many media placements or quotes you receive. Quality over quantity is a better rule of thumb and being more strategic and targeted will lend itself to a greater return on investment.
In the end, while there are different routes blockchain and cryptocurrency companies can take to build their external identities and manage their reputation, there is no doubt that developing and implementing an effective strategy will be increasingly critical to long-term success as the digital asset economy becomes even more mainstream.