Why brand matters now more than ever for web3

A year into actually working as a brand strategist in web3, I’m synthesizing some learnings, beginning with the relationship between brand, trust and audience adoption.

I’m not someone who’s super tech-savvy. In fact, I used to refer to myself as an analog girl in a digital world. Last year I fell down the web3 rabbit hole. I felt a lot of pressure to learn everything about crypto, blockchain, the metaverse. But now I know that my lack of detailed technical knowledge is part of what makes me a great strategist for web3 brands. I hope this will inspire other web2 brand strategists and marketers to learn more about the space - as well as inspire more web3 native orgs to take a chance on hiring more people who don’t necessarily speak their language.


  • Brand - and therefore brand strategy - are critical tools for building trust among audiences. Now more than ever, trust is going to be critical to getting more users into web3.

  • Communication is the main challenge, followed by visuals that effectively demonstrate the product experience in a way that resonates with the user and cultivates trust.

  • Regardless if you’re a B2B or B2C, if you want your web3 brand to scale, you need a thoughtful strategy with verbal and visual cues upholding it. You also need to know your audience and what they care about to build that strategy effectively.

  • For this reason, we need more consumer-friendly branding, and therefore hiring more people with consumer brand experience is a must.

  • By creating visuals and communications that resonate with audiences and focus on the real-world benefits of web3, companies like Uniswap, Mirror, and Zora are leading the way in making this technology more accessible and appealing to a wider audience while creating a sense of trustworthiness.

  • Some web2 native brand are effectively integrating web3 technology without leading with the technical details and instead creating a seamless UX/UI - illustrating the power of brand trust behind audience adoption.

  • This does not mean the strategy process has to be centralized. While the definition of brand strategy can remain the same, and can have the same components, there is still room to get to alignment in a decentralized way that engages your community - a topic I’ll be exploring further in the future.

First, what’s brand and how does it play a role in trust

For many modern companies, their brand is their single most valuable asset. Nike. Patagonia. Coca Cola. This is also becoming true for many recognizable brands in the web3 space - Coinbase, Uniswap, Zora, Aave, Lens, FWB.

What first comes to mind when you think brand? Maybe a logo? A tagline? A spokesperson? But in actuality, it's not just the logo, the font, the color palette. It’s more than the visual identity (all of those things – logo, font, palette - plus other visual elements like iconography.) It’s more than the verbal identity (the vernacular or words you use, voice, and tone.)

Brand is the emotional connection that your audience, community and customers have with your organization. It is shaped by your name, logo, overall visual and verbal identity, marketing and advertising, and—most importantly—the experiences people associate with you. It’s the sum of all expressions by which an entity intends to be recognized - and together those expressions cultivate an emotional connection between you and your audience.

This means:

  • How people identify your brand

  • How you express yourselves

  • How you create a shared understanding, appreciation or association

  • …through visual cues like logo, color palette and typography

  • …through written cues like ownable vernacular

  • …through memes

  • …through serial content like blogs, podcasts

  • …through events and experiences online and off

While teams and organization can’t directly control outside perceptions of their brand, there are ways to take action to shape brand indirectly in order to strengthen it and shift perception. That’s where a brand strategy comes in.

A nice iceberg reference
A nice iceberg reference

Brand strategy is the plan and tactics developed in order to create long-term brand equity and competitive advantages from branding. It clarifies where the brand is going (vision) and how it’ll get there (mission). More importantly, it’s how you ensure you can build lasting trust with your audience(s).

Brand strategy helps teams and organizations articulate and communicate core values, identify weaknesses and filter out bad ideas, create accountability, focus marketing efforts, help designers and creatives do better, more effective work, and align and engage the team in the vision.

Many won’t care how your brand - or your product - works, just why it’s beneficial for them - so communication is key

As a brand strategist with a background in corporate strategy and experience working with consumer brands, I have seen firsthand the power of effective branding in creating lasting connections with B2B and B2C audiences.

In the world of web3, where technology and decentralized systems can sometimes seem daunting to those who don't fully understand how they work, thoughtful brand strategy is more important than ever in order to bring the benefits of this technology to those not currently invested in web3.

One of the key challenges in promoting web3 to a larger audience is the need to make the technology more consumer-friendly and trustworthy. While web3 offers many benefits, such as greater security and privacy, these advantages can be difficult for the average person to understand and appreciate.

A clear brand strategy forces you to know your audience and what matters to them

This is where thoughtful branding comes into play. By creating visuals and verbal communications that resonate with audiences and focus on the ways in which web3 can make a difference in their daily lives, we can help to get larger audiences to see the value of this technology and drive mass adoption.

Effective branding for web3 requires a deep understanding of the target audience and the problems that web3 can solve for them. By conducting research and gathering insights into the needs and preferences of potential users, brand strategists can create messaging and visuals that speak directly to these audiences and show them how web3 can benefit them.

For example, if web3 technology is being promoted to consumers as a way to secure their personal data and protect their privacy online, the branding should focus on the peace of mind and freedom that this technology offers. This is true for web3 brands offering their product or services not to the end consumer, but to partners integrating it - because they’ll also be thinking about how to communicate the benefit to the end consumer, so by doing it for them, it’s an easier “yes.”

There are some web3 native brands getting it right - through compelling visual and verbal cues

In terms of web3 native brands that are successfully using consumer-friendly branding, Coinbase, Uniswap, Mirror, and Zora stand out as companies that are leading the way in this regard.

Coinbase, for example, has used a combination of simple, approachable branding and clear, concise messaging to make the complex world of cryptocurrency more accessible to the average person. By focusing on the ease and convenience of using Coinbase to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, the company has been able to attract a large and growing audience of users who may not have previously been interested in web3 technology. Simultaneously, their brand tone makes you feel like you’re in good hands when you use them.

The most recent Coinbase rebrand
The most recent Coinbase rebrand

Uniswap, on the other hand, has used a bold, modern aesthetic and a focus on the benefits of decentralization to appeal to a younger, tech-savvy audience. The company's branding highlights the ways in which Uniswap's decentralized exchange platform allows users to trade cryptocurrencies without the need for intermediaries, creating a more open and transparent financial system.

Zora has used a minimalist, user-friendly aesthetic and messaging that emphasizes the simplicity and ease of use of its decentralized marketplace. By focusing on the ways in which Zora's platform allows users to buy and sell digital goods and services without the need for intermediaries, the company has been able to attract a large and growing audience of users who are looking for a more transparent and efficient way to transact online. That said, their brand was developed in a much more decentralized fashion, where the community co-created a lot of the core assets (vs. Coinbase and Mirror, whose recent rebrands were led by agencies; and Uniswap, which was led by an internal design team and then cascaded.) Today, Zora continues to leverage community-led/co-created design alongside agency-led work.

Zora community members jamming on stream to collectively create the brand
Zora community members jamming on stream to collectively create the brand

By creating communications and visuals that are easily digestible and highlight real-world benefits of web3, these companies are successfully making web3 more accessible while creating a sense of trustworthiness. Moreover, these guys are STILL remaining true to themselves and bringing their web3 native audiences along with them - but they're simultaneously creating space for growth.

And stablished brands are effectively putting web3 tools into practice oftentimes without their customers even knowing - demonstrating how powerful trust can be

In addition to web3 native brands, there are also a number of established, mainstream companies that are removing the web3 and crypto jargon from their user experiences in order to make their products more accessible and scalable. Starbucks and Nike are two examples of companies that are taking this approach.

Starbucks, for example, has partnered with the digital wallet company Bakkt to allow customers to pay for their purchases using cryptocurrencies. Rather than focusing on the technical details of how this technology works, Starbucks has instead emphasized the convenience and speed of the payment process, allowing customers to simply scan a QR code at the checkout to pay with their chosen cryptocurrency. By removing the web3 and crypto jargon from the user experience, Starbucks has been able to make this technology more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

Similarly, Nike just launched a platform for people to buy, trade and share phygital and virtual products, get access to exclusives and co-create. The entire thing masks the backend, meaning its designed for the web3 curious and doesn’t reveal too much about what’s under the hood - it’s seamlessly integrated into the overall Nike user experience and journey. By not focusing on the technical aspects of the technology and removing the web3 and crypto jargon from the user experience, Nike has been able to make this technology more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

Nike's new web3 powered platform .Swoosh
Nike's new web3 powered platform .Swoosh

In the same way that so many of us might not fully understand how our cars work yet we drive them anyway (to put it in simple terms), these brands are using the tech without even revealing the details, capitalizing on the trust they’ve garnered over the years of their proven reliability (further demonstrating my point of how influential brand is when it comes to trust.) By focusing on the real-world benefits of web3 and highlighting the convenience and value that these technologies offer, companies like Starbucks and Nike are able to attract a larger and more diverse audience of users.

So now what?

Overall, the need for consumer-friendly branding in web3 is critical to getting larger audiences to see the value of this technology, actually trust using it, and drive mass adoption. By creating visuals and verbal communications that resonate with audiences and focus on the ways in which web3 can make a difference in their daily lives, we can help to bring the benefits of this technology to a wider audience and support the sustainable scaling of web3.

Next up I’ll be exploring how to decentralize the branding process - something I’ve been working on with Gitcoin for the past few months as they evolve from an Impact DAO to an Impact-Protocol DAO with several protocols aiming to create more equitable opportunities for builders in web3.

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