NFTs: Marketing Through Storytelling

Brand stories are key to building a successful marketing campaign.

They help to humanise a company, highlighting the individuals behind its success; it also adds credibility to the product by illustrating the personal connection between the company and its product, and the motivation for creating said product.

A brand story can include its origins, the brand’s mission or purpose and core values.

One essential purpose of this story is to build a personal connection with customers that translates into brand loyalty; in order to build this it is essential that they are brought into the brand story.

This is where NFTs have the biggest marketing potential.

There has been explosive growth in the NFT market over the past few years, predicted to expand alongside the development of Web3.

Outside of their investment potential (a potential that many are wary of due to their unstable value and high-profile cases of loss), NFTs can be included in a brand experience.

Brands from Gucci to the NFL have been experimenting with this through a number of avenues: unique items available for purchase (especially in the realm of the metaverse and online gaming), token-enabled experiences, and in-game assets and tokens. 


Most important, perhaps, is the potential of NFTs.

As a fairly new technology, there is still room to explore an unlimited number of possible uses for them and an interest from the market as to what these uses could be.

Innovation and excitement are key tools that can be used by brands to build interest and enthusiasm around not just their products but the brand themselves.

The tight-knit nature of NFT communities means that when brands engage with them, they get free viral/word-of-mouth marketing.

NFTs are an important commodity for any brand to explore, especially newer companies hoping to make a splash in their markets. 


How NFTs can add value to a brand


Once brands have produced their own NFTs, there are a number of ways they can add value to the brand:

  1. NFTs grant owners access to a number of rewards: exclusive content, online or offline groups, premium service, and even entry to private parties or festivals. In this way, a brand becomes a bigger part of the user’s everyday life and leisure time.
  2. Enhancing the brand story. NFTs can add detail to a brand’s story, creating storylines, characters, and lore around the brand’s identity.
  3. NFTs can ‘pre-launch’ a product, granting it more exposure to potential customers in the pre-purchase stage of the marketing funnel. 
  4. Following that, NFTs can act as a standalone brand component or product that will raise awareness and possibly attract new audiences.
  5. The unique ownership of an NFT can translate into a sense of perceived ownership of a certain brand element. 
  6. NFTs demand a more personalised marketing approach, creating a bond with customers. 
  7. Rewards loyalty programs have been used to shape buying habits; it is easily possible to incorporate NFTs into this process. 



NFTs and an increase in online engagement


Working with NFTs requires that a brand and at least a sizeable segment of its customers or potential customers possess a certain level of technological and financial literacy.

The positive side of this is that NFTs are a great way to increase online engagement and activity around a brand.

For example, NFT communities meet and are active on platforms such as Discord, Reddit, Telegram, and Twitter; brands can join these communities, but the real value lies in the organic flow of conversation between users. 

NFTs are already used in gaming communities and in P2E (play to earn) and M2E (move to earn) games that encourage long-term investment and increased user participation.

Video games are already extremely popular; by adding the potential of real-world financial incentives, players become more motivated in their gameplay.

Combined with the possibilities of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), the immersive gaming experience can be takento new heights.

NFT influencers hold a strong position in their communities.

They are careful about who they work with; their position is based on trust from other users, which can be easily lost if they partner with the wrong company.

However, the level of trust that community members place in them means that if a brand can partner with an influencer, that is a near guarantee of an NFT venture’s success. 



Using NFTs to create user communities


One of the best potential uses of NFTs is as an avenue to create and strengthen user communities.

Collectibles have always encouraged communities to spring up around them due to the symbolic value of the item for the owner.

Items such as stamps and baseball cards have little value outside of these communities, strengthening the ties within the communities themselves and connecting people via shared interests that translate into markers of consumer identity. 

This process can be easily replicated within brand NFT communities, creating a passionate and engaged customer base. 

This community building leads easily toward the use of platforms that allow for an organic flow of conversation, humanising a brand and marketing strategy whilst bolstering the (parasocial) bond between the company and its customers.

This has already been employed to great effect by various musicians and popular figures who have released NFT drops of their own; for example, Justin Bieber collaborated with Gianpiero D’Alessandro on an InBetweeners bear NFT collection.

This was immensely successful online but also mobilised into the real world, with a truck driving through New York City and a rise in the popularity of the bears as a background to apple watches.

The success of this venture is twofold; undoubtedly a large part was due to Bieber’s fame and immense (and loyal) fanbase. However, the story behind the bears was also key.

D’Alessandro had been gifted a bear by his grandmother in Italy and a large part of the inspiration for the NFTs came from the sense of nostalgia and safety the original bear provided.

This humanisation of the product (and the well-documented friendship and working relationship between Bieber and D’Alessandro) made the bears stand out from other more cynical ‘cash-grab’ NFT ventures (e.g. Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon’s fawning discussion of Bored Apes NFTs on an episode of ‘The Tonight Show” was widely criticised as a shallow marketing effort). 

NFT communities do not end in the virtual realm but have the potential to act as a club card or ticket equivalent, allowing owners access to real spaces through their ownership of a virtual product.

The potential uses are endless: festival tickets, private parties, and real and virtual spaces.

These can be combined with rewards programs to award long-term uses; for example, a festival can use collectible NFTs as tickets and easily identify customers who have been patrons since the beginning, granting them access to exclusive areas and special deals. 

Since the inauguration of the third wave of electronic commerce, purchasing habits and marketing strategies have been becoming more and more intertangled with the internet.

NFTs are a catalyst for a new wave of online commerce through the power of online brand communities, one of the most potent forces in the market today.

Their global reach, various identities as both artworks and POAs (point of access), and community-building power mean that with the right brand and marketing strategies they can have limitless opportunities.





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