The Branding Era of NFTs

Okay Bears started it. Solana ran with it. Let’s unpack the latest SOL NFT meta.
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The meta on Solana is always changing. Evolving. Sometimes it remains for months, other times, for days. Derivs pump hard today, but anything can happen in this wild, wild ecosystem. The current meta is branding. Although more common amongst NFT projects on Ethereum, Okay Bears’ intentional focus on branding was rarely seen in the Solana NFT ecosystem (at least, not at this scale). Their launch stood out. Scrolling through CT, it became clear that it resonated, not just amongst collectors, but with potential collections. Many took a play out of Okay Bears' book. 

The branding meta on Solana is categorized by highly-executed art, concise visual identity and lore, spearheaded by increasingly well-funded projects. What’s unique about the branding meta is that it's art-driven and -centric. The NFT project’s feed is filled with carefully curated tweets. Each tweet contains a piece of art. Each art piece communicates the brand. A common thread shared amongst the latest hype mints incorporating the branding meta, is that the ‘characters’ (the NFTs) are vibing in group, symbolizing the community aspect that is unique to NFTs. 

That’s not to say, certain branding elements weren’t present. The Solana NFT ecosystem with its caw caws, 33.3% and 🤌 are brand attributes. Brand attributes help define the brand. It is what people remember beyond the brand name, and it’s something that fosters an emotional connection because there’s clarity in what is believed, like the manifesto, vibe and imagery. Every time a symbol is seen, their mind is brought to that brand.


Just Do It. Swoosh. Michael Jordan. Which brand are you thinking about? It may not have consciously came up, but you instinctively know, it’s Nike.

Now, let’s try this: WAGBO. 👌 (no Michael Jordan). If you’re in this space, you know. “We’re all gonna be okay.” 

The slogan was born on the day Okay Bears' Discord opened. It wasn’t created by the team, it was said by a community member. A key difference between web3 branding and web2 branding, is that web3 is driven by the community, while web2 is driven by the company. A web3 brand can be further strengthened by its community. Your ‘consumer’ is an extension of your team. They’re a co-creator. Discord servers have brought consumers and audiences closer to home, into casual environments where the community would naturally share their pain points (or @the mods repeatedly) — a whole new meaning to ‘walking in the customer’s shoes’. It tightens the feedback loop, and helps the project team to ship better products, foster empathy and build an authentic relationship with their community. 

What does the branding meta mean?

🏆 NFT projects as start-ups: With the amount of capital some NFT projects have raised and a recurring stream of royalties, these projects have the capacity to build the best team. It’s important that projects are managed properly. The branding meta is showing that NFT projects are start-ups.

🌐 Mass adoption: The branding exterior helps onboard people onto NFTs (from other chains, first-time NFT collectors, etc). And, given that web3 brands involve the community, members feel a sense of ownership which leads to stronger conviction. With that, they’ll shout to the hills to spread the word. Why? Aligned incentives.

📣 Household name potential: It’s easier for common-folk (normies) to get behind brands, rather than buying into online communities. Buying an NFT can be viewed as an early investment. Imagine investing into the Nike of NFTs.

Is the current meta sustainable? 

Collections are coming out faster to ride the wave, and NFT traders are adapting to these changes in real time. More projects are increasing the quality of their art. Some projects don’t have a website (this isn’t a prerequisite, but it serves as an indication of effort). When people are blinded by hype and on the verge of fomo, it’s unlikely they’d dig deep. This questions its long-term viability, as a short-term play, there’s a strong chance it’ll moon. The projects that follow Okay Bears’ style of branding, gives people a sense of resemblance and a hope that, maybe this collection is next. That’s the meta. It’s a trend. There are followers, and then there are leaders. 


Thanks for reading,


P.S Feel free to DM me if there are any topics you’d like us to explore next 💜

🪄 Branding Tips from Tiff, Magic Eden’s Marketing Lead

Hey everyone, it’s Tiff. A few days ago, one of our teammates (Yoon) stressed to me how NFTs are not so much digital contracts the way we tend to think of them (i.e., smart contracts) as they are social contracts. NFTs represent the creation of a bond between holder and creator. In order to create and fortify that bond, projects should have a clear positioning statement. If you’re a creator, maybe this will help you level up your project. If you’re a holder, maybe this can be good criteria to help you identify the right project worthy of your bags.

1. Positioning: A project’s positioning is a statement that shows how their mission is both defensible and distinctive. I recommend positioning statements that follow the following template:

For [Target Holder] that [Needs/Cares About], [Project] offers [emotional benefit] via [proof point 1], [proof point 2], and [proof point 3]

Positioning statements often take awhile to craft, because they require a significant amount of reflection and truth-finding. Take your time to get it right.

2. Target holder: Developing a deep understanding of who exactly is your target holder and what they care about takes time. Characterizing your target holder can come in many shapes - holders can be determined by profession, location, hobby, or simply a personality trait. What they care about may vary widely, depending on whether the project is utility or art based.

3. Emotional benefit: The strongest projects offer an emotional value to their holders. Emotional value comes when a holder can clearly say “this collection makes me feel xyz.” Even projects that are utility-driven can offer emotional value–for example, GenesysGo offers holders a sense of pride through building. Non-utility projects can offer different types of emotional value, whether it’s friendship, excitement, or even a feeling of acceptance. The more clearly you’re able to distill the fundamental emotional value of your collection, the better. Even fine artists can think through the emotional themes they explore through their work.

4. Proof points: Think of your proof points as pieces of evidence to support the emotional benefit that you are claiming. For example, I used to work for a hotel company. One of our brands stood for luxury service that made guests feel valued. Three of their many proof points were their service culture training that permeated every interaction between guest & staff, the club lounge for guests with platinum status, and their food & beverage programs that made guests feel special. If your collection stands for exclusivity and makes people feel special, what are 3 sustainable ways you can bring that to life? Providing concrete proof points that are both distinctive and sustainable are critical to a project’s success.

Good luck everyone and take care out there.

📈 Market Recap: Bear, what? More like okay, bear market.

  • Last week was big: Terra Luna went down, -30% in SOL price. Yet these ‘black swan’ events made way to the beginning of Solana summer. 
  • The Solana NFT ecosystem is strong: Magic Eden 24H volume went back to 250K SOL. Smart traders took advantage of the dip to get into blue chip projects, which eventually readjusted in value. 
  • Mass appeal of Solana NFTs: More eyes than ever. What’s interesting is that ETH people getting into the space hear it from their own circle, rather than from SOL maxis. 
  • “Solana NFTs = the altcoin of NFTs”: That mindset is changing. Most in Solana NFTs, would have tried ETH NFTs. But, ETH NFT people are trying out for the first time, a viable potential for the chain that’ll help them strike gold with the next Bored Ape Yacht Club. They want to get in early, not be our exit liquidity. 
  • The bear market is where the kings of the bull are made - @SolanaLegend. This is the time to seize the opportunities in the market. And it’s when the leaders of the next bull position themselves. Act accordingly. 

🪄 What’s happening?

🪄 Congrats, this week's top performing collections on ME! (5/11-17)

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