As part of The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, Scott McKenzie of Mischief Maker argues that global brands can no longer ignore the promise of blockchain.
Brands are wrestling with this most basic question. Not just small brands or emerging brands, but big public brands that have been around for a lifetime or more.
As the global village simultaneously moves closer with technologies designed to connect users and moves further away with political and fiscal polarization, a unifying element may well be understanding why your brand matters and figuring out how to make it even more important. Help may be at hand.
Having worked with a range of companies telling their stories in disparate industries and geographies – to the public, to investors and internally – I have discovered that the common point of gravity for successful market positioning and stories of global growth came when we identified why they mattered.
But there was a twist.
There is a common thread when we tackled the question. This twist? Blockchain as an engine of growth. For years, a punchline among futurists as a catch-all solution to the world’s woes, blockchain had grown – and many hadn’t noticed.
Some of the blame can be attributed to the crypto crash. Management teams shunned the blockchain, or at least didn’t run it, because they assumed that if the crypto was bad, so was the blockchain. But they were wrong and the smart ones find out.
Their main message is simple: blockchain is not crypto. Far from there. It is a booming growth accelerator for brands.
While the crypto crash was happening, the most innovative players in the blockchain space were quietly building in the background and are now poised to help brands find borderless, sustainable growth in a way that doesn’t. has, to date, not been fully explored. Sustainability, banking and product provenance come to mind as three areas of opportunity.
For these three alone, the answer is compelling: Blockchain initiatives can remove friction from day-to-day actions and transactions, and do so securely with unparalleled levels of transparency. The result is measurable improvement in all parts of the value chain.
In other words, we can create value where there was none before. Just when brands thought they had exhausted their product revenue, blockchain apps and platforms emerged to enable new streams of value using existing product sets.
An example of Olympic size
A simple example is a recommendation to the French organizers of the Olympic Games for 2024. Ticketing fraud and widespread resale on the secondary market means that organizers of major sporting events typically lose millions. And, of course, the prevalence of counterfeit notes puts the consumer experience at risk. This is the case for most major sporting events.
But a recommendation from the French Olympic Committee calls for tickets to be sold on a blockchain basis. The result would bring an immutable environment for sales – no manipulation and no fraudulent tickets. No matter how many times or how much these tickets sell for, the organizers would automatically get their share. Counterfeits and scalpers would be removed from the process.
It should be obvious that blockchain has grown and can solve real-world problems. Removing friction and enabling transparent and fair processes that scale like mad and bolt on to existing tech stacks will be key for blockchain to be a central part of global business expansion.
There are good examples of the use of blockchain capabilities with NFTs and the like, but they have generally been ad hoc rather than central to the business agenda. This will change.
But to accelerate this change, the blockchain must shed the baggage of its jargon. DAOs, dapps, nodes, tokens…the list goes on. The blockchain lingua franca itself creates a barrier to entry. Smart people in big companies have a hard time understanding why these words matter.
Instead of expecting the world to learn blockchain jargon, winning brands will turn to companies that deliver jargon-free results. The results may well be a positive consequence of using blockchain, but it is not the technological wizardry that counts. This is the result.
And when you have the results, it becomes so much easier to answer that all-consuming question: Why do we matter?
Scott McKenzie is the founder of Mischief Maker. For more on what marketers and their partners need to do to succeed globally, check out The Drum’s globalization deep dive.