Bitcoin needs brand equity, and there‘s one way to achieve it.
Brand equity a phrase used in the marketing industry which describes the value of having a well-known brand name, based on the idea that the owner of a well-known brand name can generate more money from products with that brand name than from products with a less well known name, as consumers believe that a product with a well-known name is better than products with less well-known names.
Equity isn’t just achieved overnight, it’s a process that traditional payment systems as credit card brands and banking systems have been working to achieve for decades.
So what defines it? Brand equity is achieved through a number of interacting metrics, more commonly known as dimensions.
Brand awareness, trust, perceived quality, and brand loyalty.
Bitcoin is still a tiny name, tiny image, with no marketing budget for support. We are an ecosystem, not an organization. The success of a service supporting the community depends on the success of Bitcoin itself. This lies within adoption rates and awareness within the general public.
The main avenue of information is online, and although many are internet connected, the majority aren’t looking to invest quality time into research of a new financial system, that’s just the way it is.
For the time being I am going to focus on the awareness dimension, because without it, loyalty and trust are non existent.
Bitcoin awareness is the entry point into a completely new idea of managing and transacting value.
Awareness is the foundation to build upon in order to achieve trust, build brand loyalty and inevitably generate brand equity on a global scale. Awareness around Bitcoin’s potential is water to the ocean, it’s green to the grass, and it’s the heat to the sun. Awareness of the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole, is everything, in order an increased level of adoption.
When we consider traditional payment processors, a substantial investment flows into achieving brand equity.
Let’s take a look into Visa’s 2013 advertising expenditures.
Decent. What about MasterCard’s advertising expenditures?
Those are credit card brands… I wonder what world banks are spending.
Let’s check out HSBC in 2012.
Between $327,000,000 & $527,000,000 USD
An exact number was far and few between, but recorded marketing expenditures represents the lower, and unmonitored advertising adds another $200,000,000 USD.
Traditional payment systems are investing billions combined on an anual basis, looking to generate brand awareness. Keep in mind, these numbers refer to advertising and fail to recognize promotional initiatives, brand development, loyalty programs and a whack load of other marketing mediums.
Consumers using a credit card, debit card, or a competing transactional platform understand the usability behind them. These payments are offered globally, and they can be used for nearly any type of purchase.
They are easy to obtain, and easy to spend. Consumers are aware of the potential, and they are happy with it. We remain loyal to these systems because of their functionality, and well, a lack of viable alternatives presented to us.
Marketing is crucial to achieving awareness. Effective advertising and promotional content is the way you and me learn about services or products, and decide to obtain them.
Without awareness, we would never become brand loyal, learn to trust a brand, or give it the time of day to consider its benefits. I cannot emphasize the importance of awareness, and Bitcoin treads in a current of heavy hitters and big budgets. Those using Bitcoin are aware, and receptive of Bitcoins message, but, a far larger number of global consumers and merchants are unaware of the potential and offerings available.
Often, an conversation regarding Bitcoin achieves a similar stance from those unaware:
Why would I purchase Bitcoin when I can’t use it anywhere? I want to pay my bills, shop, buy food, rent…
Why would I try to use Bitcoin, when I can’t even buy it anywhere? Why should I jump through leaps and bounds to buy bitcoin, it’s just too hard…
I have a payment system that works fine, Bitcoin, it’s to hard to find anyhow. I am glad you accept Bitcoin but I don’t have a computer on me.
And the escalator of an incomplete picture continues to spin in the same circle.
The questions above have simple answers, and generally a simple solution. In most locations, we can use Bitcoin to pay bills, shop at a discount, buy quickly through an exchange or ATM. There are plenty of Bitcoin merchants offering discounts.
And as for multi-signature transactions, global remittances, time-stamping, personal account management, peer to peer transactions, many of these benefits are built directly into Bitcoins foundation. But many have seen an incomplete picture of the ecosystem as a whole. One benefit, one avenue of convenience, one wallet, one ATM, one Bitcoin accepted sign.
The problem is not awareness of Bitcoins existence.
It’s not that Bitcoin can’t be bought easily.
It’s not that there is nowhere to spend it.
The problem is a lack of exposure to the ecosystem as a whole. Bitcoin’s quality offerings and services exist, yet they go unnoticed in an array of single avenue, fragmented marketing. Bitcoin is not one aspect, it’s a broad topic, a technology,
Without the ability to share the core benefits of Bitcoin in a cohesive message, the service offerings as a complete package, the knowledge that is required, all in one venue, one event, one interaction…. awareness lacks.
And when awareness of the total potential is missing, the perceived quality of Bitcoin is lost, it’s potential is unheard, loyalty is dismissed and inevitably, brand equity is non existent.
Adoption of a Bitcoin wallet service is nothing without a place to spend Bitcoin, buy Bitcoin, and pay daily expenditures.
Adoption of a Bitcoin exchange is nothing without a place to store Bitcoin, spend Bitcoin, and pay daily expenditures.
Multi-signature functionality, time stamping, and Bitcoins unique properties are overlooked when the total image lacks availability.
What I am trying to get at here, is the value of partnerships and strategic alliances with the potential to bring Bitcoin to market, effectively. A message that Joe Shmoe gives a second consideration.
The Bitcoin community provides countless organizations offering amazing wallets, exchanges, ATM locations, listings, bill payment services, escrow, and a magnitude of useful innovations, supported with unlimited resources, each with a individualized promotions and sponsorship opportunities, without reinforcements at public events. Coming together for promotional content at these venues, combining marketing efforts, networking for a presence at non-bitcoin related happenings, and working hand in hand to spread Bitcoin to the world around us together will help Bitcoin reach the unaware.
Strategic alliances, partnerships and vertically integrate where possible in order to extend reach as a complete ecosystem, opposed to a singular offering. The opportunity to combine for a greater achievement has never been so great.
When an event, a trade show, a conference is presented with a complete ecosystem of usability and information, opposed to a single offering, it will truly bring Bitcoin to life.
Bitcoin is not one service, one information service, one exchange, one wallet, one merchant, one ATM away from mainstream adoption. Growing the Bitcoin ecosystem is a community effort, when we come together to attend similar events with a breadth of use-cases, when we combine our efforts into partnerships that show the vast potential and variety of uses, the brand equity behind Bitcoin will speak for itself.
Partnerships are a strategic tool that can help to strengthen and even re-define your brand in the long-term. When dividing the benefits into tactical vs. strategic, it is easy to see why partnerships can be a powerful method for building brand equity when thought about over the long-term. — Future Brand