From obscure and esoteric to household name: “NFT” made its way into the common lexicon at breakneck speed. In just two years, the global market cap for transactions involving NFTs grew almost tenfold, and everyone from Quiznos to Olympic gymnast Simone Biles wants in.
As brands, businesses, and public figures flex their creative might, the market is bubbling with competition that’s getting fiercer by the day. And while NFT PFPs (profile pictures) are currently being used by many as a visual status symbol, the aesthetic component of these tokens only scratches the surface of the value they can provide.
The community hub
We are humans. We crave community. Up until a couple hundred years ago, we relied on social bonds to stay alive. Now that our survival is underwritten by grocery stores and WiFi, communities look a little different, and the roles they play are changing.
Right now, one of the most compelling benefits that an NFT has to offer is its exclusivity. Why else would Post Malone have spent $735,000 on two digital images of dapperly dressed monkeys?
The answer can be traced back to Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 digital drawings, each one depicting a unique ape. Anyone who purchases a BAYC NFT gets more than their own ape avatar to parade around the internet: they’re also granted access to a members-only Discord, which is frequented by the likes of Steph Curry and Jimmy Fallon (and, of course, Post Malone). The opportunity to rub virtual elbows with these VIPs and be a part of the hype has non-celebs paying top dollar for their “ticket” into the club.
While not every NFT needs to be a gateway to the rich and famous, the takeaway is this: online communities are magnetic. Doubly so if they have an air of exclusivity, which is inherent to the NFT model. There’s a reason why more than three-quarters of people alive on earth right now engage with others in virtual spaces: connecting and belonging is fun. Build it, and they will come.
The bonus airdrop
Let’s linger on BAYC for another minute and explore the idea of ongoing value. Switching up your Twitter PFP and chatting with fellow NFT-holders is an exciting way to engage with others who are in the know. But what happens one month, two months, six months, a year after the fact? How can NFT creators keep the spark alive?
BAYC masterfully reinvigorated their base by issuing a surprise second token, which was airdropped directly into each owner’s crypto wallet. This NFT took on the form of a serum which, when applied to the original ape, revamped its appearance with new “mutant” traits. And so, the Mutant Ape Yacht Club was born.
If you’re an NFT creator, strategically timed gifts and upgrades are key to holding owners’ interest. Depending on the brand issuing the token, these rewards can take on almost any form: early access to a product drop (whether the item is physical or virtual), a new or updated avatar, entry into a private event, exclusive music or art.
No matter what lands in their wallets, it should be designed to renew interest, stir up buzz, and always keep them guessing.
Brand collaborations are a marketing strategy as old as time, and NFTs are no different. Often, the clout that is created when two brands collide is greater than the sum of its parts.
Slowly but surely, creators are catching on. HYPEBEAST property HypeArt has teamed up with Montreal artist FVCKRENDER to create a one-of-one digital magazine cover, BAYC just joined forces with Rolling Stone on an exclusive zine, and Bacardi collaborated with producer Boi-1da to launch a purpose-based NFT to shed light on gender disparities in music production.
Crossovers serve to amplify your offering, placing it in front of people who might not know your brand but do interact with your collaborator. Whether you’re launching an NFT as partners or collabbing with different companies for exclusive drops, there’s no limit to the creativity that can be tapped into here.
The IRL connection
Sure, NFTs might live on the blockchain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be spun into real-life perks. Similar to the airdrop concept, creators can launch new NFTs at any time that grant access to IRL moments and things, limited-edition products and in-person events.
The inverse is also true. Take Flowers for Society, a sneaker brand that is giving out an NFT — and therefore access to their digital metaverse — with every pair of shoes purchased. While these tokens aren’t tangible, don’t get it twisted: their link to the physical world is very, very real.
Written by: Stephanie Ullman