If you judge blockchain projects and companies by their marketing, many don’t seem nearly as revolutionary as they really are.
That’s because blockchain branding and communications tends to suffer from a lack of approachability. Webpages, blogs, and white papers are filled either with overly vague language or technical jargon only decipherable to industry experts.
And while many companies are just fine with that — they’re not marketing to the average “normie” — lack of brand approachability can hold a company or project back from its full potential. After all, it’s hard to become a thought leader in the larger business community if people can’t deeply comprehend what you’re thinking.
I’ve thought long and hard about how blockchain companies can improve content and make themselves more approachable. Leaders like Gavin Wood and Charles Hoskinson should be regarded as highly regarded outside of the blockchain community — if not more — as people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
So why aren’t they?
Here’s my take on how one blockchain brand is presenting themselves, what they can do better, and takeaways for other industry thought leaders.
Case Study: Making Polygon More Approachable
Blockchain founders are brilliant developers and technical minds. However, this can be a double-edged sword from a marketing standpoint. Yes, the content that their companies create is extremely impressive to other developers and tech-savvy readers. But too much of a good thing can hold a brand back from achieving the mass network effect that most projects desire.
Take the blog of Layer 2 Ethereum blockchain solution Polygon (formerly Matic), for example:
Anyone in the space knows that Matic Polygon is growing rapidly because of how easily it is to scale decentralized apps on its blockchain. And while we get hints of this from Polygon’s content, the blog doesn’t seem to weave any cogent brand narrative together.
Instead, we’re left with a series of highly technical — albeit important and interesting to the right people — articles that don’t clearly reflect any coherent brand values or perspectives. And it’s a bit of a shame since Polygon really is empowering Ethereum developers arguably more than any Layer 2 solution.
Polygon is a great project with a powerful story to tell. Here’s a few recommendations I can extrapolate from this case study to the blockchain industry at large for moving away from strictly technical content to thought leadership and brand narrative:
- Make DApps the Hero. A lot of interesting decentralized apps are being built on Polygon, from NFT marketplaces to sports betting platforms. Don’t just mention these DApps and the tech behind them. Write stories that make them the hero, offer a personal story behind the developers, and connect the dots in terms of real-world applications. This goes for any blockchain company or project and is a missed opportunity that I see regularly. By telling stories around the builders on your platform, you’ll reach and attract more over time.
- Feature the Founders. Projects with a powerful lead persona behind them gain more developers and users — you don’t need to look any further than what Charles Hoskinson’s persona has done for Cardano. And while not everyone is (or wants to be) Charles, it’s still important to strategically communicate founder insights and perspectives on a regular basis. The key here is authenticity. Founders should write about topics, ideas, and technologies that they’re most passionate about. And not be afraid to invest in experience ghostwriters or editors.
- Define a Conversation. Blockchain brands shouldn’t just be explaining what they do from a technical standpoint. People need to see that they’re actively participating in an ongoing conversation. Whether its businesses using decentralized apps or the future of NFTs, being a unique voice in these hot-button conversations goes a long way towards legitimizing a project or company. Once people get drawn into your unique point of view and brand story, then you can fill them in on the technical details of what makes you special.
The good news for Matic Polygon is that the company does have the seeds of great thought leadership in their vision statement:
In a sense, Polygon has “buried the lede,” in journalism terms. They aspire to a world where blockchain gets massive adoption — and their solution will be central to that transformation.
The main takeaway is don’t be afraid to state your vision clearly and boldly, weaving key ideas and perspectives throughout all of your content. That’s what separates top-notch thought leadership from bland SEO writing. Whether its web copy, blogs, or white papers, the key to approachability is creating narratives around your project, brand, and key founders that readers of all stripes can relate to.