How are brands launching NFTs today?
February 15th, 2022

So you’ve heard of NFTs. And you may also know that artists, influencers and brands are getting involved. Perhaps you’re even considering launching one for your own business or personal brand. So what strategies are being used to launch a successful NFT drop?

Here are a few ways big brands have chosen to enter the space, along with thoughts on where it might lead in the near future.

Collaborate with an existing NFT project and its community

The most popular existing NFT projects have a loyal, vocal and influential community of owners. As a brand, a way to launch your own NFT drop is to collaborate with one of these projects and its community. Adidas decided to work with NFT studio Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club, NFT influencer Gmoney and the PunksComic project to produce a new 3D style collectible featuring the brand’s logo and garments.

In December 2021, 20,000 of the collectibles were made available to purchase for those who owned NFTs from the existing projects (i.e. owned a Bored Ape, Gmoney NFT or PunksComic), while a further 10,000 were available to the public. The buzz generated by Adidas’ collaboration with some of the biggest names in the NFT space led to the entire collection selling out in a few hours, generating over $20 million revenue.

Tapping into existing projects’ communities is of course a great way to find potential buyers. Clearly this is something many brands or creators would like to achieve. However, in order to be successful, it must be done in a way that feels collaborative rather than predatory in order to receive the community’s blessing.

Collaborate with a platform, studio or technology company

The NBA partnered with Canadian NFT developer Dapper Labs - the company behind Cryptokitties and the Flow blockchain - to develop its Top Shot NFT series. The NFTs, which feature game clips and can be purchased in packs, have generated nearly $1 billion in primary sales.

In 2021, retailer Toys“R”Us launched its first NFT drop with digital collectibles platform Ethernity. The collection included 3D images of the company’s mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe.

The approach in these examples acknowledges the relative specialities of each entity; the brand has the IP that consumers are willing to pay for, while the technology company brings expertise in the NFT space. For NBA, Dapper Labs' development of a platform that enabled anyone with a credit card to purchase a Top Shot NFT proved crucial to mainstream fans purchasing the NFTs and achieving product-market fit.

At Ethernity, by the time of the Geoffrey the Giraffe release, the platform had already successfully sold NFTs on behalf of the likes of Lionel Messi, Pelé, Maluma, DeLorean and numerous other household name brands and celebrities. Partnering with Ethernity ensured that Toys“R”Us had a pre-existing list of potential NFT buyers ready to snap up the drop, with Ethernity boasting its own customer list and audience on email, Discord, Twitter and Instagram. Ethernity also brought to the table its platform and knowledge of how to deliver limited-time, high demand NFT drops. 

Collaborate with another brand

NFTs are a new way for brands with similar customers and values to collaborate. France-based supercar manufacturer Bugatti recently announced a partnership with UK luxury brand Asprey to create a series of NFTs and corresponding physical sculptures.

The collection has yet to be unveiled, but promises “unique benefits” and “unlockable features”.

The link between the brands feels natural and the work they create together should reflect the exclusivity and luxury of their products. 

Superplastic and Gucci are taking a similar approach. In this case NFT owners will be shipped a mystery physical gift later this year.

It’s also possible to combine the strategies above, although it’s notable that most high profile brand or celebrity drops have tended to focus on two headline partners coming together. This is probably because of the risk of dilution of the DNA of the celebrity, brand or other IP involved if too many influences are brought into the fold.

There are other choices to be made too, such as:

  • using existing IP vs creating something new
  • collaborating with artists vs using in-house designers
  • selecting the right blockchain - considering factors such as ease of use, environmental impact, gas fees and security

What’s next?

I’d expect to see more and more examples of each of the above approaches throughout 2022, as more celebrities, brands, artists and sportspeople decide to jump into the world of NFTs. 

Another interesting development to look out for would be a retailer or brand deciding to launch their own proprietary NFT platform or marketplace, that could be used to distribute their NFTs as well as potentially those from other businesses. This would be a bold move that, if successful, would position the company involved at the forefront of the market for NFTs and digital goods. 

Each week, I publish a new article about how brands and creators can join the NFT world. Drop me a message if you have any questions.

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