Crypto in Crisis: Is a Rebrand Enough?

Just over a year ago, people couldn’t get enough of Crypto. Now, people can’t get far enough away. With the collapse of Crypto giants like FTX and the SEC bearing down on the industry promising strict regulations, the future of Cryptocurrency seems more uncertain than ever. Some uncertainty is always present in innovative spaces, but too much uncertainty leads to a lack of trust and without trust, you’re dead on arrival. The Crypto world knows this well which is why a massive rebrand is under way. The question is - will it be enough?
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Why is Crypto in Crisis?

During the pandemic, cryptocurrency became a global phenomenon. In fact, according to a December report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute, the number of people who transferred funds into a crypto-related account tripled during the pandemic. If people weren’t investing in Crypto, they were talking about it. Quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon, celebrities of all kinds endorsed and even launched their own crypto-products like exchanges, coins, and NFTs. You couldn’t go on Twitter without seeing something about cryptocurrency. Crypto ads took over the superbowl, Times Square, and even fortune cookies. It was everywhere!
Intrigued by the opportunity, large investment firms began to dip their toes into crypto-investing. Since cryptocurrency was still so new, regulations were few and far between. More and more scams started to pop up and people began to lose money on these risky projects. Then, in May of 2022, a string of major collapses began - starting with Terra and Luna coins and ending with the dramatic downfall of FTX, one of the biggest crypto exchanges in the world.
When one bad thing happens, it’s easy to look to the horizon and say it’s just a rainy day, tomorrow will be better. A series of unfortunate events? That’s a different story. Bitcoin (the world’s most popular crypto currency) saw its value drop to one fourth of what it was a year ago. The crypto market valuation as a whole has dropped to one third of what it was at its peak in 2021. No one likes to be on a sinking ship.

Cue Rebranding

Surviving crypto firms are determined to change the way the general public views crypto. In order to improve public perception and build back trust, the remaining crypto giants have embarked on a lofty rebranding effort. This effort is taking many forms: from replacing trigger words like “crypto” and “NFTs” with terms like “blockchain” and “decentralized platform” to jumping on the AI bandwagon, companies are doing whatever it takes to disassociate from the woes of 2022. Jesse Powell, CEO of crypto exchange Kraken, went so far as to release a strange video on twitter showing him punching “corruption” and “shady players,” determined to bring back honor to the industry. Yep, it’s gotten weird.

“They’re just wearing a different outfit to the same party,” one branding expert told The New York Times in a recent interview.
Us marketing folk know the true power of a rebrand, but we think that the crypto industry is going about it all wrong. A few wording changes and viral videos won’t fix the big issue: consumer confidence is gone. The only way to restore it is with a darn good story. Take BP’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Spending more than 3x their usual advertising budget in the first year after the spill, BP was successfully able to drive a narrative of responsibility, action, and accountability that restored consumer trust and only led to a temporary dip in revenue. In today’s world, consumers are more awake to greenwashing and wouldn’t be so quick to let a company get away with something like this, but the principal stands.
For a more positive example, take LinkedIn this past year. In an effort to engage more women on their platform, they did a deep dive into consumer research and discovered that 76% of women say they want relatable role models to be more visible. So, as part of their national sponsorship of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament in England, LinkedIn launched a campaign highlighting the importance of role models within all aspects of life, on and off the pitch.
In both cases, these companies listened to their consumers’ needs, wants, fears, and goals. They built trust by responding to and acknowledging these feelings. The crypto-market needs to do the same. People are worried about Crypto. Is this project a scam? Will the SEC regulations impact my investment returns? Is my personal information safe? The days of blindly trusting anything in crypto are over. It’s time for a campaign of re-education, empathy, and accountability.

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