Building on a blockchain follows similar fundamental principles to building in real life. First, you establish the foundations, then you can start laying the bricks, and only once it’s built can someone begin experiencing the building’s purpose. With blockchain, establishing a foundation involves selecting (or even designing) a first layer. Laying the bricks is akin to writing the platform code, and only then the user experience can begin.
So why, if we know the process involved in building a successful, sustainable structure from scratch, do we ignore it when it comes to our crypto marketing efforts?
The naive crypto founder’s marketing checklist
Building a Web3 project from scratch? Here’s a typical marketing checklist for starry-eyed founders:
- Have a logo: something from a freelancer will do to start
- Create a whitepaper: this is a must-have for VCs
- Have a website and social media accounts
- Create a blog (remember: SEO matters)
- Engage a PR agency and issue lots of press releases ahead of launch
- Use influencers (more followers = more reach)
- Use paid placements to establish authority
- Participate in sponsorships and time on stage at big events
Even if a project manages to survive the next crash, it’ll invariably end up rinsing and repeating this list with endless newer and more exciting features, products and services, with little return on its marketing spend.
The problem is, when everyone is doing the same thing, nobody stands out. And during the bear markets, what’s left? All of the above costs time and money, but none of it buys loyalty.
All entrepreneurs building on blockchain understand the importance of building from the foundations up — starting with layer-1. Layer-1 underpins everything.
What are the characteristics you seek from layer-1?
- Decentralization with distributed shared ownership
Nothing in the extensive founder’s marketing checklist shares these non-negotiable properties.
Your brand is your layer-1 of your marketing
Successful marketing starts with its own layer-1 — building the brand. Your layer-1 is the keystone on which your entire platform is built, and your brand is the keystone on which your entire marketing strategy should be constructed.
Your brand isn’t a logo or a catchy slogan. It’s first and foremost a memorable, relevant, credible, unique, concise and consistent brand positioning and promise. Ideally, it’s supported by a clear set of values, ideas, narratives and visuals that pull everything else together.
Your brand is what makes people recognize you. It’s what invokes what your business is known for. And it’s the only part of your marketing toolkit that creates a truly emotional tie between you and your target audience.
Remember, your brand is the only asset that you can derive from your marketing spend. However much you pay a PR or marketing agency, no matter how much they talk about ROI — without a brand, it’s all just talk. Your brand is your layer-1.
That’s not to say that all the other stuff isn’t important. Your socials, blog and PR campaigns all matter. But they are your layer-2 — your touchpoints. If we take the blockchain analogy, your layer-2 marketing activities and touchpoints are like your dApps. They’re your presence — your voice to the world.
Layer-3 is where the magic happens. Layer-3 is the experience, where your brand, product and story come together to create traction, impact and enduring value. This is why people will come back and what will propel you through the toughest of bear markets and financial hardships.
But without layer-1 — your brand — you’ll never reach layer-3 based on a foundation of layer-2 alone. It would be like trying to launch a dApp without a blockchain.
Hang on, you may be thinking. I’ve already started my business, and I didn’t build a brand before I started. I already have my website, socials, blog and campaigns set up, but without a brand. Is it all now doomed to fail?
It’s not a problem.
Unlike dApps, which can’t run without blockchains, it is possible to retroactively build your brand. In fact, the chances are that in the process of building your layer-2, you’ve already started creating an impression that can help to form the basis of your brand.
What are you good at? Why does your community come to you above the competition? Why is your offering relevant?
Arguably, if you have already started, you’re in an even stronger position to build a brand retroactively because you already have enough data and input to be able to answer these questions. Those touchpoints you set up are a valuable trove of feedback from people who have engaged with your product and formed an impression. Listen to what they have to say.
Once you know what you’re good at, and how you’re being perceived, you have the ingredients to create your brand. The rest is pure science.
German is co-founder and chief relevance officer of THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, a branding, marketing and growth agency focused on blockchain and Web3.
This article was published through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of connections, collaboration and thought leadership. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.