Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) stole headlines at the beginning of 2021 as this new facet of cryptocurrencies generated a steady stream of overnight millionaires. Digital artists, who previously struggled to find a market in their craft, benefited most from this sudden wave of events. But since the initial hysteria over NFTs has somewhat faded, a new focus on how they can benefit other online marketplaces has emerged: brand storytelling.
What are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens leverage the characteristics of blockchain technology to provide a layer of authenticity, transparency and security to digital items. They are essentially digital tokens with metadata packed into them that can add extra value to an item.
A fungible item, such as a fiat currency, can be exchanged for another unit in that same item class without a loss in value. For example, someone can hand you a $10 bill in exchange for two $5 bills and no value is lost. When an item is non-fungible, that means it is one-of-a-kind and cannot be exchanged equally with another item in the same asset class.
NFTs are “minted” on various marketplaces where they can be sold for cryptocurrencies. A buyer then receives their NFT token containing whatever image, video or item was purchased. Since that NFT token is now represented on the blockchain, it can be verified as the original. Screenshot images of NFTs all you want, but if it’s not on the blockchain it’s not the real one. Owning an NFT token is like having a certificate of authenticity on a piece of art you’ve purchased from a gallery. Plus, whoever created the NFT can add extra metadata that represents additional benefits for the buyer.
NFTs and visual storytelling
Beyond just digital art, NFTs are being used to experiment with new forms of storytelling, particularly in the case of advertising.
In an article published in April, tech blogger William Terdoslavich describes NFTs in the context of interruptive ads vs. visual storytelling, stating that “companies are evolving away from interruptive marketing to storytelling that is not perceived by viewers as ads.” He later adds that “the foundation for crypto-storytelling is the non-fungible token (NFT)” and that “crypto storytelling provides a marketplace for anyone to list their digital asset and sell it using cryptocurrency.”
So where do NFTs come into play? Minting a brand-specific NFT allows customers to more deeply engage with the company and brand. An NFT can add a canonical element to the company story. They can also be packed with additional consumer benefits such as access to exclusive offers, free products and premium memberships. The possibilities can be as relevant as they need to be for a given brand.
An example of this could be a promotional video created on a special day for a company who is commemorating a milestone. Aside from crafting a video story centered around the consumer, the company can also mint that video as a collection of NFTs, packing it with additional benefits for whoever buys them. This marketing event is now captured permanently on the blockchain, and loyal customers have the potential to benefit monetarily by taking part in the company story.
Benefits of visual-storytelling
Traditional, interruptive advertising is generally seen as an annoying way for companies to get their product stamped into our memories, through generic commercials and pop-up web advertisements, for example.
Visual storytelling, on the other hand, takes a deeper approach to connecting with people by becoming relatable. Using surveys and interviews, marketing teams can gather a better understanding of what it is their customers are looking for in a product. By using elements from entertainment storytelling, they can weave together a more authentic advertisement showing the real impact their products have on people.
A new marketing device
Companies should be thrilled by the opportunity to create deeper authenticity for their brand. By learning from the world of entertainment storytelling, marketers can help companies build deeper engagement and relationships with their customers.
NFTs are a new tool that can be leveraged to build this authenticity, while also giving customers ownership of the company’s value. As the hype around overnight millionaires fades, innovative ways to use NFTs will continue to proliferate.