We have come to a situation today when the name of some of the most promising technology carries on a stigma of negativity and distrust.
Thus, nowadays, if you are looking for NFTs on Instagram or Reddit, you might have much more success instead by looking for “digital collectibles”. You may recall a time when talking about “blockchain” was exciting – it seems to have been a brief time.
A company that calls itself Riot Platforms is the same Bitcoin mining company formerly known as Riot Blockchain. Brynly Llyr, the head of blockchain and digital assets at the World Economic Forum, even recommended that the cryptocurrency industry completely rebrand itself around “decentralized systems.”
And NBA All-Star Baron Davis says that “for a while, we definitely don’t want to call them NFTs.” His platform for managing photo and video rights, SLiC Images, is avoiding any mention of the divisive technology.
These days, the words “crypto” and all of its jargon are toxic. Now, crypto, Web3, NFT, and the other buzzwords that once conjured up images of a brave new world are, to paraphrase Charlie Munger, “rat poison,” where once simply adding the word “blockchain” to your name increased your company’s valuation.
Unfortunately, even “metaverse”, a word which was meant to define the final stage of the decentralized web–was taken up (some may say “stolen”) by Mark Zuckerberg and used in his attempt to change Facebook’s course, despite the current less than stellar outcomes.
Despite the fact that “a younger generation distinctly wary of non-traditional investments” is still thinking about cryptocurrency, Katie Baron, head of retail at trends intelligence firm Stylus, argued that the industry needs a “judicious refocusing.”
She added that:
I do think these terms have become somewhat toxic—particularly crypto and NFTs—partly because the initial feeding frenzy was pitched as being synonymous with a brave new ultra-democratized world in which everyone could win big by investing in or making digital assets”
Terms like “crypto” and “Web3” have become toxic, in Dickon Laws’ opinion, not just because of the bad actors operating in the space but also due to “terrible product-market fit,” the global head of innovation services at the advertising agency Ogilvy.
He is saying that
Nobody has made Web3 relevant or available for the masses, or really spent the time trying to understand how it solves’mass’ market problems or enhances the lives of consumers.
Because it didn’t address issues that “your neighbors, family and friends, gym buddies, people you meet on a dog walk can understand and relate to,” Laws claimed that the recent cryptocurrency “gold rush” failed to catch on with the general public.
Brands and companies, according to Laws, “didn’t follow their usual due diligence when investing,” which means they hadn’t created long-term plans to support their investment in blockchain technology, which made the situation worse. Therefore, despite the fact that many headlines for “world firsts” were produced, they are unable to explain to their stakeholders how and why their money was spent, which makes the case for growth and ongoing investment — good money after bad — extremely difficult to make.
NFTs, in particular, when they weren’t being derided as environmental risks (subsequently fixed with Ethereum’s move to proof of stake) were associated with the more unpleasant get-rich-quick scams that have plagued crypto.
While the gaming industry has struggled with a persistent pushback from fans, publishers of games like Worms and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 have been forced to backtrack on plans to incorporate NFTs into their games. National Geographic abandoned its NFT plans in response to widespread criticism on social media.
Is rebranding the solution?
Millions of Reddit users have purchased their “collectible avatars,” so it appears that the rebranding of NFTs as “digital collectible” has been successful so far.
The creator of the NFT Paris conference, Alexandre Tsydenkov, said that “digital collectible” works are popular. Is it more marketable than NFT? I have no idea.
Every six months, new words are created, said Tsydenkov. “The metaverse has replaced NFTs as a has-been technology. But now Facebook is rebranding to Meta, so we need to change. ” He contends that the crypto space should hold off on trying to rebrand NFTs until “things have calmed down, and maybe NFTs can be in the mainstream without people understanding what the NFTs are.”
Should all cryptocurrency businesses therefore think about rebranding and avoiding names that contain words that could be confusing or, worse yet, that inspire distrust?
According to Katie Baron, it’s definitely something to think about. She says,
I’d advocate for either contextualizing it in [your company’s] other communications, or removing it. Look at Journee or AnamXR for examples of companies that are building the most compelling metaverses that do not include this naming. Particularly with blockchain, naming a business based on a shared, unchangeable ledger is a little unattractive!
The publisher of Final Fantasy Square Enix is unapologetic about its adoption of blockchain technology, launching Symbiogenesis, an NFT game built on the Polygon blockchain, in February 2023. However, some well-known names in the games industry are ignoring the pushback and moving forward. NFT game Blankos Block Party recently launched on the Epic Games Store.
— SYMBIOGENESIS (@symbiogenesisPR) November 3, 2022
Ubisoft, the company behind the Assassin’s Creed video game, is investing more in blockchain technology than ever before. In the metaverse game The Sandbox, Ubisoft just this week introduced NFTs of its well-known Rabbids franchise. Didier Genevois, the technical director for blockchain at Ubisoft, told Decrypt in a 2021 interview,
We understand where the sentiment towards the technology comes from, and we need to keep taking it into consideration every step of the way.
The blockchain initiative of the business, according to him, is an experiment “meant to understand how the value proposition of decentralization can be received and embraced by our players.”
Martin Raymond, co-founder of the futures consultancy The Future Laboratory, asserted that in the long run, it won’t matter what we call that technology.
The majority of the reactions we’re seeing, in Raymond’s opinion, are simply prejudices against the novel. “I believe that this happens with every innovation cycle or technological cycle; if you think about biotechnology, the first time it was a Frankenstein’s monster, the second time it was a means of saving the planet.”
Raymond argued that rebranding of Web3 terms is not always necessary. They merely require detoxification, he claims. That’s a job for the technology’s proponents, the writers who write about it in the media, and the finance and banking sector that wants to use it.
Dickon Laws agrees to that point and states that:
Web3 is about as relevant to the average person as the term ‘HTML’. It’s a significant technological advancement, but do we need to understand what Web3 means, like the majority of people need to understand what HTML means?
No matter if a tool is an app, dapp, NFT, smart contract, or IoT system, users don’t care about it. The benefit it brings is what matters to them, he said.