Michelle Yeoh has stiff competition for her deserved Oscar as the multiverse-hopping Evelyn in one of last year’s hottest movies. Web3 firms are also creating an “everything bagel multiverse,” attempting to be all things to all people, all the time. But, the reality is that we humans have simpler tastes.
Humans have developed the intelligence to hold onto many facts at the same time, even when some of those facts can appear to conflict with one another. However, as much as we love to consider ourselves rational, fact-based creatures, we tend to respond more to our own base needs than cold, hard facts. Gallup research shows that up to 70% of variance in consumer engagement is driven by emotional rather than rational factors.
However, our emotional psychology also works differently than when processing facts. Humans are far more effective in handling our sentiments when we experience them in a way that’s comprehensible and digestible. If we describe something as an “emotional rollercoaster,” it’s because it’s a short-lived exception to our relatively stable norms.
Companies that excel at branding understand this need for consistency and stability and know how to leverage it for maximum effect. Even the greenest startup founders know that most well-used branding practices are rooted in the principles of psychology.
Yet, even the most experienced companies in the Web3 space still frequently fail to leverage the real value of this knowledge. There’s a difference between understanding how to use branding and marketing messages to invoke a particular response and doing it in a way that’s coherent and consistent enough to leave a lasting impact.
Why consistency matters
Consistency is key to branding. Or more specifically, a lack of consistency is what kills a brand. Household-name brands gain recognition through endless, timeless repetition. Although the style, tone or delivery of the story may change over time, we see the same underlying messages with the same promise delivered consistently — every single time. In this way, the brand becomes recognizable and memorable.
Eventually, the brand stands apart from the competition in people’s minds. Rather than a cola-flavored beverage, you automatically ask for a Coke. Rather than searching online, you Google. When you see an unrealistic image, you’ll wonder if it was Photoshopped.
Not a product, a brand. Not even a noun or name — instead, a verb.
At this point, the relationship is one of unrivaled trust and credibility. The mind doesn’t hesitate — the brand is the product. It’s the go-to choice in any scenario because it’s known, trusted and valued for its ability to deliver.
Consistency isn’t just about logos, colors and the right words. It’s about invoking the same emotional response every time. In creating that response, the brand isn’t necessarily looking for a sale or even generating a lead. It’s about leaving an indelible impression on the brain. It’s a brand in its more literal meaning — a mark.
Think of Volvo and its unwavering messages of safety and security. Those messages aren’t pitched to little kids who dream of becoming F1 drivers. They aren’t pitched to newbie drivers trying to find the biggest engine on the tiniest budget. But when those drivers finally need the safest vehicle on the road to transport their own precious cargo, Volvo is a go-to brand. It was alwaysthere.
The brand became synonymous with safety, and that’s the goal.
How Web3 is failing to deliver
With the benefit of 25 years of branding experience and a decade in blockchain, I’ve observed that most Web3 firms aren’t delivering on brand consistency. My firm recently published some proprietary research analyzing brand data from centralized crypto exchanges.
Based on an analysis of the ten top-performing CEXs, we found that:
- The key messages across all crypto exchanges can be consolidated into nine core narratives.
- Despite the relatively small number of narratives, all exchanges offer emotionally competing messages to customers.
- Exchanges with more content tended to have less overall brand consistency.
The impact of these conflicting messages on the lizard brain of the everyday user can’t be understated. If your business sells itself on being the most sophisticated exchange with the most features and boasts the simplest interface and user experience, then you’re damaging your chances of becoming known for either of those things. Neither stands out against the conflicting message of the other. Your potential user is already lost.
“Simply and technically sophisticated” might sound like good jargon for a website or investor deck, but when you see it as a would-be user, your subconscious brain does a double-take and believes it to be nonsense.
These conflicts also invoke mistrust. One example of this is when there are messages of security and compliance alongside talk of permissionless, open financial systems. The security and compliance messages play to a need for safety, but that clashes with the idea of permissionless, pseudonymous participation. Thus, those users who prioritize safety become alienated, and their trust in the security of the platform becomes eroded.
Conversely, more libertarian-minded audience members seeking permissionless freedom will associate “compliance” with Big Brother-style surveillance.
Ultimately, these conflicts compromise the ability to generate any substantial return on investment from marketing spend. Imagine if Volvo decided to add the concept of speed to its brand messaging, invoking the idea that its cars are designed for thrill-seekers. What would that do to the company’s reputation for safety and the value accumulated in that reputation?
Brands live and die by their ability to stay on-brand. It’s clear that the crypto exchange business has plenty of work ahead to establish sustainable brands that consistently deliver. Choosing a realistic, appealing brand promise to a specific audience can improve the ability to endure difficult markets and strengthen the chances of outlasting the competition.
German is co-founder and chief relevance officer of THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, a branding and marketing agency focused on blockchain and Web3.
This article was published through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of connections, collaboration and thought leadership. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.