The Evolution of the AirSwap Brand
The blockchain industry is noisy. For AirSwap to stand out, we identified a need for a truly meaningful, cohesive brand to effectively communicate our purpose and values to our customers. Here is our journey thus far.
A Look Back
Last year on May 10, 2017, we introduced the Swap Protocol to the world. After much research and collaboration, we concluded that there was a unique opportunity to publish a simple design for decentralized, peer-to-peer token trading. In order to round out the Swap Protocol’s release, a brand was necessary; at the time, we focused on the Swap Protocol’s utility. And therefore to address the product’s core competencies, the first brand purpose became A Protocol for Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Trading on the Ethereum Blockchain. The purpose was impactful and informative, a technical expression of what the Swap Protocol was all about.
In August 2017, we introduced AirSwap to implement the Swap Protocol and establish a peer-to-peer trading network. We launched the AirSwap Token using the protocol and delivered on our roadmap to release the Token Trader, Token Marketplace, and Partner Network. On April 25, 2018, after having established the key trading network elements of liquidity, connectivity, and reach, we released what you see today as AirSwap, the decentralized token trading network.
While AirSwap grew, so did an obvious need for a brand that was clear, concise, and most importantly, aligned internal and external stakeholders towards a common vision. And consequently, we set out to redefine our brand.
The intersection between AirSwap and the world
Developing a brand is not just about the logos and taglines — it’s about the purpose. Whether you call it a mission statement or a brand message, an organization needs a brand purpose that can speak to the target audience effectively and in an authentic manner.
To help facilitate and accelerate this discovery of a brand purpose, it was clear that we needed tools that could help organize all elements that contributed to what AirSwap was and is all about. So, we asked two simple questions: What is AirSwap? and What does society need? And from these questions, we looked to their intersection to find the coveted brand purpose.
Regaining focus in an industry full of noise
When contributing information towards each question, the best approach was to look everywhere. We carefully examined competitors, conducted hours of interviews, flipped through numerous reports, and leveraged all of our individual expertise to ensure that we were thorough and absolutely certain with what we were about to redefine as a team (our breadth of research was certainly not just limited to the four areas named here).
In our previous iterations of our brand, we firmly believed that communicating utility in a straightforward manner had made sense. Now, we realized while utility was still just as important, we also needed to differentiate ourselves from a rapidly-growing industry.
In the blockchain space, users are constantly inundated with information. Unfortunately, much of this information can become redundant and even noisy at times (at the time that this post was written, CoinMarketCap was displaying 1,926 cryptocurrencies). This, simply, is far too much information for anyone to take in; and even for crypto enthusiasts can feel like an insurmountable task. Many of you reading this now are probably all too familiar with the idea of a “crypto rabbit-hole.”
In efforts to unveil more insights within this noise, we primarily turned to our competitive research for further guidance: we conducted a full, 360-degree brand and communications audit for 5 decentralized exchanges, 8 centralized exchanges, 3 fintech organizations active in blockchain, and 3 out-of-category disruptors. From this competitive set, we focused on each organization’s brand purpose; how that brand was then positioned within the digital ecosystem as well as the physical world (where applicable); and key positioning pillars for each brand.
From this research, we found there were many blockchain organizations claiming to be “The Most Liquid…” or “The Most Trusted…” or “The Leading…” Trust, inclusion, and disruption are many of the larger themes that exist in the industry. It was evident to us that being “different” in the blockchain space was a larger task than originally anticipated. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to be unique.
Blockchain and people
We filtered through the noise, dug deeper into the industry and its potential for impact, and came to the conclusion that people should be the focus. We saw that some brands had implied references to people by referencing “the world.” The intention to be inclusive was great but the broad, generic categorization of “the world” seemed too lofty and not specific enough.
On the other hand, there were other brands focusing on the technical capabilities of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Some brand purposes referenced cryptocurrencies themselves and others took an even more specific approach by highlighting technical competencies of the technology (i.e., referencing words like “decentralization” and “trustless”). This approach made most sense to target users who have an advanced understanding of the technology. For communicating with the uninitiated, this wasn’t so effective.
By taking a few steps back and reviewing our research, we realized that despite the countless number of times we heard the “unignorable” and “industry shattering” change that blockchain technology would bring to the world, no one was talking about the most important element… people.
Our rejuvenated central idea of people took us towards a whole new direction. It was clear from the inception that we placed exceptional emphasis on our user experience. Equally important, our emphasis on user experience extends beyond our product design. This was something that was at the core of our company ethos.
So it was easy to answer the question, “What is AirSwap?”:
AirSwap is a secure, global network that enables frictionless, trustless crypto trading.
Without a doubt, AirSwap, at its core, is still a technological solution. For AirSwap to be relevant in a continuously broadening ecosystem, humanizing the brand was imperative.
So we moved onto the second question, “What does society need?”:
To answer this, we decided to look beyond blockchain and into traditional financial institutions for inspiration. We also examined societal, macro-level trends that related to financial systems. From there, we arrived at a similar conclusion to that of our competitive analysis:
Legacy financial systems focus on institutions and governments instead of being built around people.
Again, we felt as though people must be the focus. By bringing the intersection of the two questions together, we were able to finally come to a brand purpose that was appropriate for AirSwap. And officially, we are proud to present our brand purpose:
A remix to the AirSwap Mark
Now that the challenging part was over, we looked towards our visual identity to make sure everything was also set at a high standard. We wanted to alter the visual identity slightly to make sure that AirSwap stood out as a network that welcomed everyone. With a few other considerations, we landed on making our primary version of the AirSwap logo blue.
We’re currently working to ensure that our branding is consistent and everywhere. We want people to share the same excitement we have about AirSwap and the impact we can have in the world. We are confident that the brand that we’ve developed for AirSwap will enable us to power through the world from here on out. We hope you share the same feelings as we do and are very excited for what we have coming up.