katoshi d


Marketing in Crypto: When brand?

Currently, I’m totally into a process of rebranding for a cryptocurrency project I work on. Despite the greatness of overall idea, my second immediate thought was "This project needs a rebranding to survive in long-term". Later it came to me that repositioning should be done in addition regarding the exploded number of new coins. This story began a year ago. Let’s talk about fundamental things that can help one to root in the market. So, why having a brand in crypto is important?

The market was doing good. Seemed like we all were going to the moon. I started to look at competition. Of course, I went to Coinmarketcap, rolled up my sleeves and started from the number 2 on top. Well, not that number 1 is obviously not a competitor (says in a voice of a Bitcoin maximalist, lol), but a bit too high ambition and, maybe, an unnecessary one.

After reviewing the first 500 positions I could distinguish around 25 projects which explained who they are, why they exist, what they do and how. I didn't even question economical viability, only the key strategic message availability. That 5% of the market are mouse's tears. Is it bad? Is it good? Definitely, it is good. Hopefully the market will conduct several purge cycles to achieve some clarity among players and cryptocurrencies quantity will be significantly reduced.

Below are the few tips based on own experience and pure intention to make nice things more available to people. We'll focus on positioning and identity as core venues of communication.

Crystallize Your Positioning

Simply, anyone should be able to detect what is the specie you are. It is quite far for mass adoption if we can’t speak a real understandable language with an average Joe. But first, give yourself an answer — what do you do and why? It is easy to hit someone with a question "Why do you need a blockchain?" and watch them wither in a labyrinth of explanations. If you can’t find an argument WHY and WHAT — leave it. Freeze it, break it, burn it, kill it. No one said it’s easy. If you have this answer, you’re a winner (joke)!

Next step is to envelope your answer in 1–2 sentences. That will be your positioning which should transform into 1 comprehensive sentence, preferably as shorter as possible. That will be your key message, an essence of god's thought and the only thing that should stay in a memory of your victims (sorry, users).

In the market of uncertainty where near possible role is to be an altcoin (sometimes automatically turns out to be shitcoin tagged), find yourself a bigger cause of existence (I mean, for your cryptocurrency project, but don't forget to take care of yourself too).

Hint: Start from communication strategy if you feel lost. Not that I want to mess up the classical flow of strategy creation (business, marketing, communication, digital, then social media…), but this document is a fundamental guide about what you are going to say. Market, competition, audience, trends and problems analysis will be your analysis base. Gather insights. Look where you fit in. Make a value proposition for the end user. Find the right words to deliver it.

Warn: Don't fool people. If you don't fit the market need masking it with the help of cool words, upgrade your initial product idea first.

Power of Identity

All heil beauty comes in the form of identity! Well, we know communication is not only verbal but visual (and can be broadcasted via any other possible medium of informational exchange).

To my surprise, for many identity and branding are the same thing. This is just wrong. Without identity, actually, you can't proceed with branding. But the main confusion comes from another word — rebranding, which is a marketing strategy in which a new brand identity is created. Identity is a part of rebranding and depicts mental and functional associations with the brand. Wrapping up your assets via the creation of more emotional associations is branding. I like to compare the consonance of words "identity" and "entity", because it is really like creating one: giving a name and sound, shape, color, specific patterns and dedicated visual associations.

Filling up an identity brief once took around 5 hours for me. Basically, it is a great refining and detecting gaps tool. After you have an essential message for the audience, try to clearly define the next points (but not limited to):

  • What are your brand advantages for users? Find up to 3–5.
  • What exactly distinguishes your brand from the competition? 3–5 characteristics. If it is possible point to the main.
  • What are your brand values? Find up to 3–5.
  • Which words are forming your brand tag cloud? Does it sound like you want to look in ones eyes?

Hint: Semiotics is a science. Strive for scientific approach. You better be aware about the general identity creation process, but let this work for professionals to do. Keep yourself disciplined and independent from your inner hype. It’s not about you to like the final result, but the perception of end users. Handy to check it with focus groups.

Warn: Always check what is hidden beyond semiotics and meaning to avoid misunderstandings.

Why is this important? Take a look at Tether. From the plain sight, it is something… unclear. Did you ever try to decode Tether identity? Have fun with me below.

Tether Example

I never paid much attention to Tether existence, probably, because I never traded anything in $USDT pair. It was an accidental discovery the other day when I went down the rabbit hole looking at $BTC charts. Maybe, not a news for you that 87% of $BTC is traded vs $USDT excluding derivatives. Well, I made myself a service to read more about Tether in Twitter to estimate the general mood about it. I also googled a bit and found out that previously it was named Realcoin.

Kudos for getting rid of “coin" tail! But Tether website and media outlets don’t tell anything about this great event. What’s the deal then, why Tether?

Teth — Theta — T

At the beginning, it seemed like Tether's T and Theta are totally not connected. But appears that Theta, Greek letter, is a derivative from Teth, Phoenician letter, consonant with the brand name.

Theta (UK: /ˈθiːtə/, US: /ˈθeɪtə/; uppercase Θ or ϴ, lowercase θ (which resembles digit 0 with horizontal line) or ϑ; Ancient Greek: θῆταthē̂ta [tʰɛ̂ːta]; Modern: θήτα thī́ta [ˈθita]) is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, derived from the Phoenician letter Teth. In the system of Greek numerals it has the value 9.

Phoenix Trace

The Phoenician alphabet is the oldest known in the world. Curious that so called high societies prone to cults like the phoenix bird. Remember that owned by Rothschilds magazine cover with world-dominating currency in the form of a coin hanging on the neck of phoenix and fiat money burning around?

A phoenix depicted in a book of legendary creatures by FJ Bertuch (1747–1822), Wikipedia

The phoenix bird is widely associated with Phoenicia civilization known for its expensive purple dye for upper classes.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the bird, phoenix, was sometimes associated with the similar-sounding Phoenicia, a civilization famous for its production of purple dye from conch shells. Because the costly purple dye from Phoenicia was associated with the upper classes in antiquity and, later, with royalty, in the medieval period the phoenix was considered “the royal bird”.

I'd say, that's a funny start of coincidences.

Theta and Death?

Theta is not your typical friendly letter. In ancient times it was associated with death and used to mark dead people.

A retiarius attacks his downed opponent, a secutor, with a dagger in this scene from a mosaic from the Villa Borghese, Wikipedia
In ancient times, Tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death.

Ropes for Animals

Let's move forward. There should be some positiveness in this pool of despair. What's with the word itself? Does it mean something nice? Wiki said NO once again.

1. a rope, cable etc. that holds something in place whilst allowing some movement.
2. (by extension) the limit of one’s abilities, resources etc.

Limit of one's abilities is definitely not something we like. But more let's look at more ridiculous finds. Tether is a derivative from "tethera", which translates as number 13 and used in… sheep counting.

(Borrowdale sheep counting) yan, tyan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick, yan-a-dick, tyan-a-dick, tethera-a-dick, methera-a-dick, bumfit, yan-a-bumfit, tyan-a-bumfit, tethera-a-bumfit, methera-bumfit, giggot

Also, if you have scary beasts it's always nice to have tethers. Not sure who tethers whom IRL, though.

The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism, By Timothy Husband, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tag Cloud

I'm not done yet. Where is Theta symbol used? According to Wiki:

  • Plane angle in geometry, 2D. Well, it's all about our brain and the mechanism of seeing things. Astronauts, for example, don't see space in 3D while being on a spaceship. To them, the limitless sky appears to be limited because it has no horizon for a brain to stick and project a picture (see Char Davies’ Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence of Spatiality by Laurie McRobert).
  • The reserve ratio of banks in economic models. "The reserve ratio is the portion of reservable liabilities that depository institutions must hold onto, rather than lend out or invest. This is a requirement determined by the country’s central bank, which in the United States is the Federal Reserve" (see Investopedia).
  • The quantity representing the sensitivity of the value of the derivative price. Regarding the passage of time, the "time decay" (see Wikipedia).

Enough to form a specific brand tag cloud including such words as death, rope, sheep, limits, banks, derivatives… Why and how one could choose an identity with negative associations we don't like in crypto?

Going back to identity, once again the whole story confirms that one should always check is there something behind the semiotics and meaning.

Note: I do not claim this is a true meaning that was intentionally assigned, simply because I don't sit at Tether HQ, but you can make own conclusions about the need for caution and accuracy when working on brand.

Thanks for reading! Additional thanks to @SwoleOffCrypto, @seweso and @drwasho for support on the closing topic. If you want to say hi or discuss this article, feel free to leave comments or ping me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Cheers!

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