How Brands Should Approach NFTs and Web3: VaynerNFT

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8w ago2022-06-17

In brief

  • Entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk founded Web3 consultancy VaynerNFT to help companies navigate the industry.
  • VaynerNFT President Avery Akkineni said that brands shouldn’t let the crypto market downturn scare them away from NFTs and Web3.

It’s been a whirlwind year for the NFT space, and that’s especially true when it comes to brands trying to wrap their arms around the tech. About a year ago, according to entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk, many companies barely understood the use case or opportunity.

“Early on, they were like, ‘What is this?’” he told Decrypt at May’s VeeCon conference.

Vaynerchuk—a serial entrepreneur and creator of the VeeFriends Ethereum NFT collection—launched the VaynerNFT Web3 consultancy last July, spun out of his VaynerX creative and media agency. The firm has since launched various initiatives with brands like Budweiser, Ford, Pepsi, Behr, L’Oreal, and crypto exchange Coinbase.

Avery Akkineni, VaynerNFT president and former managing director and head of VaynerMedia APAC, told Decrypt that the consultancy firm was “so far ahead” of the NFT brand boom last summer that companies “had no idea what we were talking about.”

Since then, however, mainstream acceptance of NFTs has rapidly accelerated. It’s not just storied consumer brands, but also a growing pool of professional athletes and sports leagues, record labels, movie studios, and more. Tokenized digital collectibles have become an alluring prospect for companies across many industries.

“Everyone wants to launch an NFT yesterday,” said Akkineni. “But what is important to doing so successfully is actually having a long-term strategy.”

An NFT is a blockchain token that works like a deed of ownership, and they can be used for things like artwork, event tickets, collectibles, and interactive video game items. The market swelled to $25 billion in trading volume in 2021 alone.

While a brand NFT drop or collaboration can be fun and potentially alluring for customers, Akkineni said that VaynerNFT seeks to help partners figure out how that can lead to ongoing or long-tail engagement. Many successful NFT projects grow or maintain value through expanding utility or perks for holders, and brands should consider that approach.

“That should be the first entry point for a longer-term Web3 strategy,” she said of an NFT drop, “versus thinking about NFTs as some type of marketing campaign or gimmick.”

Brand strategy in Web3

Recent Web3 brand activations that VaynerNFT has advised on include a giveaway of a Johnnie Walker Blue whiskey gift set to specific VeeFriends NFT holders, free POAP digital badges for singer Mary J. Blige’s Pepsi-sponsored “Strength of a Woman” festival, and a SXSW promotion with paint brand Behr and the Doodles NFT project.