G20 Ventures
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G20 Ventures

Bored Ape NFTs. Source: NFT Culture

Building Brands in Web3

You can learn a lot from a monkey, and a doge.

Headless Brands

Bitcoin is what’s sometimes called a Headless Brand, and that’s the first thing that’s new about crypto. All those other ideas… all those stories about what Bitcoin is and (more importantly) why it matters) came from us… the community of Bitcoin supporters, buyers, users, fans and detractors. Web3 takes this idea to a whole new level… offering at least the potential to have a brand created, refined, and evolved entirely by the community of users it serves.

To build a brand in Web3, you need more than a PR-team approved positioning line for your most ardent fans to memorize. You need a story even your casual fans will remember, and having one will give you an edge over everyone else.

Lots of alternate “Level 1” projects are competing with Ethereum to take over as the default platform in emerging use cases like gaming, NFTs, stablecoin, digital fiat, and even in the peer-to-peer transactions Bitcoin set out to conquer in the first place. Engineering types would rightly point out they’re all competing on the attributes of their underlying technologies… on their transactions per second, energy consumption, perceived security, and degree of decentralization. But that’s only one dimension of competition, and I’d argue it’s not even the most important.

Owner Communities

The contests of competing blockchains, tokens, enabling technologies and Web3 applications are contests for the hearts and minds of a community, a community invested in not just the use of a platform, but the ownership of it. That’s the second things that’s changed in Web3.

Crypto is at least as tribal as it is technical…

…and to capture the imagination of a community of fellow owners what you need is a story good enough to share, an idea I like to call a contagious narrative.

Dogecoin: The Power of a Silly Story

Let’s talk about Dogecoin. ICYMI… Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency, essentially a copy of the Bitcoin blockchain, which like all cryptocurrencies can be copied by anybody. Software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer decided one day to create a payment system as a “joke”, making fun of the wild speculation in cryptocurrencies at the time. DOGE was the first “meme coin”, meaning it’s visual representation took the form of a meme popular among the crypto bros on Reddit and elsewhere. Needless to say, that community — then the dominant sub-culture of the crypto speculator metaverse — loved it. When the ever prescient Elon Musk picked up on the trend, he started to flog it on Twitter, and Dogecoin went to the moon.


Bored Apes: The Power of a Relevant Story

Bored Ape Yacht Club is another example of a story well matched to its audience. The NFT phenomenon is built on a series of simple ape illustrations, modeled after ennui-filled Russian oligarchs dripping in wealth and tired of all the world has to offer. The Bored Apers took things further, creating a Metaverse clubhouse open only to coin holders, and then a whole series of innovations that made membership more and more attractive as the coin took hold and prices rose in open markets. When celebrities like Steph Curry, Steve Aoki, Mark Cuban and Madonna got hold of the coins, the phenomenon soared, to it’s current level of about $23B, roughly the equivalent of Best Buy, with a 1,000 retail superstores across the US.

“The next big thing usually starts looking like a toy.” Chris Dixon

So can you put the power of stories to work for you in a commercial venture? And if so, how? What’s the secret to doing that effectively in Web3, and how does that idea intersect with the very nature of a brand?



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Mike Troiano

Storyteller. Consiglieri. Lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own. https://nf.td/miketrap