A few months ago I was scrolling on my social media and found this tweet by Tobias van Schneider:
When I read this I realised he’s absolutely right. Why are cryptocurrency brands in general so far behind in the technology industry?
I am a graphic designer who slowly migrated to the technological industry, more recently to the financial sector (finiam). I grew up as a designer influenced by Paul Rand, Emil Ruder, Karel Martens, Barbara Says…, R2, Linda van Deursen, Paula Scher, Peter Behrens and so many others. Those are the designers that motivated me to keep pushing the design boundaries and give my best.
Most of their work — probably all of it — is so iconic and unique that even today, it continues to be studied all over the world.
For those of you who don’t know, Peter Behrens is the pioneer in graphics systems (AEG), Paul Rand designed iconic logos like IBM and NeXT, Karel Martens is one of the first designers to explore the overlaying of colours.
But for me, one of the most important elements in their work is the error-based experimentation; after all, designers are sharing an idea/vision with people and they need to feel connected and related to what they are seeing.
We demand perfection but, silently, we are also asking for an imperfect element with which we can relate and establish a connection with.
(I could write about them all day, but I’ll leave all these references for another blogpost and go back to what originally made me write this: cryptocurrencies and their brands.)
So the question for me was: why don’t cryptocurrencies have this level of thinking and graphic consistency reflected in their brands?
Cryptocurrency is a super growing-trend and as any other product or service the brand will influence the choice of whether we should or should not trust and invest our time and money in one.
The way you think and build your business brand has a key role in the process of generating trust, goodwill and loyalty. It will allow you to:
- Build an emotional connection with your audience
- Reaffirm credibility
- Deliver a clear message
- Share your values with your audience
- Share your mission
Why is the overall cryptocurrency brand so far behind in the technology industry?
The banks and financial institutions have already understood the importance of having a solid brand to generate trust among their customers.
As I read a few days ago
Now that customers are not going to their banks, how important are bank brands for users of internet banking? — The importance of bank brands for Internet banking
The brand will connect the entity to the customer and it needs to sell itself. It’s always a complex subject to talk about, since it implies emotions and unconscious decisions. But, at the end of the day, the question remains: do I trust this project? Do I want to be part of this?
Therefore, I believe that the cryptocurrency industry is making its own journey and will become o above and beyond from a brand and design point of view.
There’s a steep learning curve, terminology to understand and a regular supply of horror stories about hackers stealing cryptocurrency to make the experience uncomfortable for most. Coinbase is on a mission to change that. They want to make buying cryptocurrency feel safer and simpler (…) — How Coinbase works
If you think about it, cryptocurrency started out by being such a complex and technical world, full of technicalities and technical people. The main concern was about making these projects robust, reliable and credible from a purely functional point of view. I believe this was the first phase.
I refer to this as “the first phase” because I’m starting to see some of the most best-known cryptocurrency projects to completely rebrand and invest in well structured marketing campaigns. Even the emerging projects are starting to give the brand a key role — a snowball effect.
They have started to understand that brand matters and therefore design matters. The brand will be the first selling point: the face of the project. I think we can judge a cryptocurrency project by its cover.
The value of a strong, differentiated brand has been regularly quantified over the last few years. For example Interbrand in association with JP Morgan, concluded that on average brands account for more than a third of shareholder value. — Why brands in banking matter more than ever
And of course, since this is about your time and money, it’s one of those things that either you trust or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s very likely that you won’t come back. If you do, you won’t look anywhere else. You’ll be bound to your choice and find familiarity and safety in it.
That’s why that brand design has such a key role.
With up to 80% of major brands’ value now residing in intangible assets, it’s never been more important to ensure your brand is distinctive, memorable and ultimately iconic. — Why brands in banking matter more than eve”
Some crypto brands that are at the top of the design game
The following examples are some of the brands that I like the most in the cryptocurrency world.
Utrust is one of the best crypto brands out there. Recently, so well executed in collaboration with Bürocratik, they were able to build a solid and consistent design system — based on an excellent typographic base and colour palette. However, for me where this brand stands out from the others is in the introduction of the human element — as you can see, there are a lot of pictures of people being used in their communication materials.
As this technology is at an early stage and for most people, it is an area to be discovered, this was a great decision by Utrust — this way, whoever is visiting the website will feel connected, in some way, with the brand. Exploring the human side of a brand is still an excellent way to create an emotional connection with the customer — you can relate to the brand because there is a natural connection based on your own nature.
Surprisingly, I haven’t found many brands that use this strategy.
They used the movement to create a dynamic system always evolving and generating different, but consistent, outputs. In an ever-changing world, especially the digital one, it is increasingly important to create brands capable of giving quick and effective responses, without ever losing the graphic consistency over time. Ensuring consistency in communication is also an important factor in improving customer engagement and trust.
This dynamic factor in addition to the human one, resulted in an excellent brand, very robust and reliable. Loved it.
Uphold recently launched a new page where they began to explore the use of the human factor. Adoption by non-technological people is one of their goals and it is certain that this approach with a change of graphic register and tone of voice will be an important point in this journey.
A few more examples:
- Stellar - an open network for money stellar.org
- Matcha - simple crypto trading for everyone matcha.xyz
- Mercuryo - crypto wallet for everyday use mercuryo.io
These are just some examples that I found, but I’m sure there are many other cool brands on the Internet.
Cryptocurrency is an incredibly intelligent technology, with potential to shatter our conceptions of the financial system. Still, that is a monstrous challenge and an uphill battle against the perception of comfort and safety of the users. I believe that it is also our job as designers to help these projects to be trusted and easy to use and understand by everyone.
That’s why here at finiam we’re starting a public repository where we’ll compile some of the most promising cryptocurrency brands. We called it CryptoBrands.
What is the CryptoBrands?
We know the crypto community is one of the best out there. It’s very active and collaborative and we would love to work with you.
Based on these principles of human factor, trust, dynamism and graphic consistency, we want to build with your help the biggest brand repository in the cryptocurrency world.
That’s why finiam created this collaborative repository: CryptoBrands - by Finiam - cryptobrands.finiam.com
You can make your suggestion directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or use #finiamcryptobrands on Twitter with the name of the project, the website link and, optionally, the design studio responsible for the design.
Inspired by Steve Jobs’ words: Cryptocurrency brands need to say Hello more often.