NFTs And The Great Diving Board

The monumental shift and impact these innovations will have on the marketplace cannot be overstated—and for brands ready and willing to take the plunge, the opportunity is there for the taking.

VSA Partners recently announced a collaboration with Rare Air Media to help launch an intimate collection of Michael Jordan NFTs. VSA Partners is a premier creator partner for crypto solutions company Ripple’s $250 Million USD Creator Fund, established to help creators, agencies, and the marketplace explore and create premium NFTs and other tokenization projects on the XRP Ledger. In the following piece, CMO Sarah Lent, shares why—and how—brands can take advantage of this rapidly emerging and expanding medium to forge new connections with their customers.

With each industrial revolution, the cycle of change and disruption gets a little faster, a little more condensed.

We’ve all heard the anecdotes about companies that leapt into new seas of opportunity such as Apple and Netflix, and their unfortunate counterparts who waited just a little too long and lost a little too much—think BlackBerry and Blockbuster.

But what is that magic moment of decision-making?

How does a brand decide when it’s time to jump in? And where to even start?

This question feels particularly pressing in our current environment, as the emergence of Web 3.0 and the Metaverse signal a major shift in how brands and consumers will interact. Although the landscape is still developing, the major plot points are this:

1. Web 3.0 technologies envision a connected, trustless, accountable network for efficiently delivering value, thus crafting infrastructure for things of worth and enabling safe participation in the digital economy with unique digital identities. In other words, global security, delivered.

2. The Metaverse has been embraced and defined as the successor to the mobile internet. Imagine a world where your digital experiences are interwoven within your physical environment, enabled through interoperability, where goods and services can be monetized. The current convergence of infrastructure (5G and spatial anchors), hardware (VR headsets and AR goggles), and decentralized digital currencies (blockchain and crypto) unlocks the true potential of making this Snow Crash fantasyland an everyday reality.

The monumental shift and impact these innovations will have on the marketplace cannot be overstated. Afterall, it’s called an industrial “revolution” for a reason.

And for brands ready and willing to dive in, the opportunity is there for the taking. From emerging brands looking to make a name for themselves, to titans of the industry who may have lagged behind on past technological advances and are looking to reinvent themselves as future-oriented leaders—this is the chance to join the emerging landscape and play a role in defining how these exciting new technologies will shape our world.

But again, where to even begin?

Let’s start with the central technology making mass adoption of both Web 3.0 and the Metaverse possible—tokenization.

Tokenization takes meaningful data, like an account number, and transforms it into a string of randomly-generated characters. This string is called a “token,” and unlike encrypted data, tokenized data cannot be deciphered or reversed if breached. The privacy offered by tokens are what makes them particularly appealing and well-suited for a digital marketplace. Tokenization can also mean the conversion of physical or virtual assets into digital units that can be bought or sold, residing on and validated by a blockchain. Without tokenization, the trustless infrastructure of Web 3.0 couldn’t exist. But with it, the privacy and security in every transaction allows the removal of the “middleman,” and offers unparalleled connection between brands and consumers.

Furthermore, it’s growing at breakneck speed. The WEF predicts 10% of the world’s GDP will be tokenized by 2027—just six short years away.

If you’re a brand looking to break into the digital marketplace, understanding and adopting tokenization as part of your strategy is critical to future-proofing.

And what if you could embrace tokenization while also reinforcing your brand? What if you could build consumer loyalty and create hype-generating experiences while preparing your company for the future?

Welcome to the wild world of NFTs.

The Early NFT Bird Gets the Early Virtual Worm 

NFTs, or “Non-Fungible Tokens,” and their accompanying marketplaces are a huge source of excitement—and trepidation. They’re also the sign of a rapidly changing ecosystem. While the rules of engagement, the assignment of “value,” and the long-term success of the market are unknown, the opportunity is clear: the total value of NFTs sold in the past 7 years is more than $1T.

First off, the use cases for NFTs are multiplying even as I write this. NFT minting currently focuses on art and collectibles, which represents a non-functional value. But as more creators, artists, and brands participate in the NFT market, use cases and the ecosystem will grow. This in turn will enable a transition towards functional tokenization where you see more tangible utility derived by consumers—think things such as identity, event access, and supply chain validation.

When combined together, the myriad of use cases for NFTs have one thing in common: loyalty via community-building. Think of loyalty programs, first unveiled by airlines, later transformed into comprehensive community platforms living at the intersection of data, technology, and design. In this movement, front leaders turned loyal customers into brand members, building an ecosystem of value exchange based on usage and subsequent data insight. Nike famously cut their media spend in half as they built Nike+, with 60 million members who come to the platform, on average, three times a week. They no longer had to blindly spend billions in media with a singular message trying to connect with millions. They could serve personalized messages, goods and services to their community that delivered true intrinsic value which skyrocketed the Nike brand into the innovator it is today.

Imagine the possibilities. An NFT today could be ticket access at Mavericks, or unlocking Super Bowl tickets through Budweiser, or even an authenticator of materials when purchasing a Louis Vuitton bag.

The intimate collection of Michael Jordan NFTs recently launched by Rare Air and VSA Partners through Ripple’s Creator Fund, for example, further allows fans to connect with and have insight into the storied exploits and achievements of Mr. Jordan’s enduring legacy.

Now imagine a world where millions of your brand loyalists are NFTs owners, collectively engaging new audiences on your behalf, building communities and sharing in the democratized economic value growth once only accessible to an elite group of shareholders.

By offering NFTs as part of their brand experience, businesses will be able to move their communities from members into brand owners, creating a shared experience in the investment of the brand’s success. This is how you build brand loyalty in Web 3.0.

The Takeaway 

NFTs are the next frontier for brands to build meaningful experiences and connections with their customers and communities. It is the first step of the digitization of physical assets that can be monetized, sold, and tracked in the digital world, and a testing ground for the ecosystems and programs that will define the next iteration of the digital age.

Now is the time. Not only will early adopters reap the benefits of an NFT program, they also will have a say as industry leaders in what the future of NFTs, Web 3.0, and the Metaverse will look like. Like many innovators that have shepherded us into new dimensions before, these emergent leaders will be the ones who thrive in this next era of digital transformation. Take the aforementioned Netflix and Apple. Netflix has taken a hard turn into gaming. Apple continues to heavily invest in AR. With these massive shifts and investments already underway, one can only imagine what their next leapfrog move will be.

Brands looking to jump into a new world of revenue streams, explore different business models, and deepen relationships with their communities, need to take the first step into this tokenized future through NFTs.

Jump on in.

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