The Bear Market Won't Slow Down NFT Brand Activations

There's still time to get started and get it right with Web3

Leaders from Glossier, Shopify, Mastercard and more will take the stage at Brandweek to share what strategies set them apart and how they incorporate the most valued emerging trends. Register to join us this September 23–26 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series.

Have you heard? NFTs are dead.

In fact, the entire crypto market is in trouble. Layoffs. Bankruptcies. It’s a bear market, which in Web3 terms is known as a “crypto winter.” And for the NFT world, it’s the very first one.

But that hasn’t stopped brands from going full force into the space. In fact, Starbucks has launched its NFT rewards program to its more than 20 million mobile app users. And the market isn’t actually dead. Although down in volume, secondary sales topped $500 million in July 2022 on the popular trading platform, OpenSea.

Spirits may be down, but long-term belief is high. And we, as humble marketers, can still get involved with Web3.

How to get started

Set your patience to 11, you’re gonna need it.

Accept that it might take a while to “get” crypto and that legitimate experts are few and far between, for the time being. But also, relish the opportunity to be the go-to resource on NFTs. Remember “social media gurus” in 2012? That could be you, but for crypto. “It’s not too late to get in on the ground floor as a marketer,” said our old friend LG Doucet, “but you must enter as a student, not a master. Ask questions, even dumb ones. It’s ok not to understand at first!”

Ready to dive in? Here’s where you can start.

Find an interesting project. Scroll through projects on OpenSea or Cryptoslam and look for something visually appealing. Find out who created it, and why. 

Learn how to use Discord. It’s where crypto communities congregate and share updates. Email and social come second to Discord in the crypto world. Join a project’s server to access its passionate community.

Read, and then read some more. NFTs are technology, after all. A quick google search for educational blogs, videos and podcasts make for an easy weekly assignment. 

Recruit Gen Z. Millennials are old now! Once the titans of social media, they now group in with the boomers and Gen Xers. Find a sharp junior and mine them for their non-fungible knowledge.

You could also seek out groups of other like-minded marketers, like Web3 interest group JUMP. Basically, find a place to make the leap from Web2.

How to get it right

Getting started, although tedious, is actually the easy part. Next comes the real challenge—getting NFTs right.

There are many factors to consider at first: art, price, supply, rewards, among others. But none matter more than the ultimate distinction for an NFT collection: The Vibe.

It may sound ridiculous, but the way an NFT launch feels can determine whether it will sink or swim. In their short time as connoisseurs of funny animal images, the Web3 community has developed its own set of rules for what makes a respectable NFT project.

Per Doucet, “The community is very good at sniffing money grabs from brands. A sell-out does not necessarily equal success in the NFT space. Respect must be earned by adhering to the unspoken expectations of collectors.”

So what are these “expectations”? The list looks like this.

Modern art. Although many people have copied the Bored Ape cartoon animal concept, this is no longer en vogue. Rather, the community pines for polished and distinct visuals. 

Balanced distribution. NFTs are exclusive, yes, but the community will cause a fuss if not given a proper chance at getting in early. A well-planned distribution schedule, for both early adopters and the public, is vital.

Clear-cut communication. Silence may be golden, but it can be deafening in the NFT space. These are degenerate JPEG traders, after all, and need constant updates on what the future holds for their “investments.”

Accessible price point. Don’t be fooled by Tiffany’s selling $50,000 NFT pendants. You are not Tiffany’s. The entry point must be low enough for all your fans, crypto literate or not, to consider the purchase.

Community rewards. This may be the hardest pill to swallow. The NFT community expects value. They want to spend a bit and receive a lot. They want their NFTs to maintain a steady price, and the rewards for holding to be plentiful. This is not easy.

Per Doucet, “Leading NFT brands find new and innovative ways to reward their collectors, with free ‘airdrops’ of new art, merchandise or gated experience.”

This is a good time to remind you that NFTs come with secondary royalties—meaning that even if a brand launches a free NFT, they will collect 5% of all secondary sales. In fact, Nike has generated over $90 million from secondary NFT fees alone. Not bad for passive income!

What’s next for brand NFTs

It’s all coming very fast. But where is it going? And can we expect to see it?

More investment. Though at the time of writing we’re in a crypto winter, investment continues to pour into the Web3, crypto and NFT space—like Google investing over $1.5 billion in blockchain companies or WPP partnering with Epic Games to build a digital metaverse and train the agency’s network of creatives on all things crypto. Every day, another major business makes a crypto play.

New engagement opportunities. The ways in which marketers can engage with audiences in a way that surprises, delights and cuts through the noise continue to expand and multiply. The challenge is to separate wheat from chaff, identifying the early opportunities where you should enter the Web3 space and avoiding dead-end paths.

Look for more learning opportunities. Look for the early leaders in the space, follow them and connect with your peers to learn together. Start a Web3 Slack channel at work to share things you find. Go to networking and conference events. And download Discord today.

We’re still in the earliest phases of Web3, so if you’re reading this, take comfort that you’re ahead of most.