This post is inspired by ongoing discussions / debates about the positioning of the Polkadot brand and communication in general see: Polkadot Summit - Brand Refresh Workshop, Polkadot Messaging/Positioning/Narrative Thoughts and Polkadot Brand Refresh
Ok, so a brand sells something. Got it.
David Ogilvy (a famous ad creative defined a brand as: “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.”
Ok, so a brand exists to focus narrative power into identifiable mixed media symbols - let’s just call this synthesis a feeling.
Ok simple enough question, but not as easy to answer as you’d think…
Is a feeling a trademark? Hmm. Did everyone descend on this forum due to the threat of legal action? Not sure, but probably not.
Yes. This feels better. People were excited by a vision. A fairer internet. A Web3 world. Bring down the establishment! own your data! disassemble the patriarchy! Anyways. Yes, this is great.
But was that the Polkadot vision, or the Web3 vision? Hmm. Ok.
Let’s leave Web3 for now, - let’s get back to Polkadot - after all, its not just a philosophical idea (Web3), it’s a design idea - a relay, shared security, parachains, collectives, coretime, XCM, we could go on.
Right. So are all relays, parachains and collectives ‘Polkadot’?
- Is Kusama ‘Polkadot’?
- Is Karura- ‘Polkadot’?
- Is The Fellowship?
If Kusama is bridged to Polkadot, does it become a parachain?
Or is Polkadot a parachain of Kusama?
If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to hear, does it make a noise? Good questions.
Quick lets move on.
Let’s cut to the meat, Polkadot is also a belief in a singular vision.
In a founder who sees the future.
With a track record. With a cult following. This is power.
Great brands are really just stories about people. After all, we are all people (other than a few SuperIntelligent Anon Flagging AIs), and therefore we tend to see the world through the stories of other people…
So really, Polkadot is a bet on one man’s ability to change the world.
Ok, we’re on firmer ground again thank god.
Now as much as everyone loves defending trademarks, chewing on world changing ideas and witnessing the singular power of founders to create reality distortion fields there’s also the small matter of, well, getting stinking rich.
Polkadot is also DOT.
If by some unfortunate fluke, a grumpy parity core dev wiped all balances in some ode to the end of Fight Club, what would happen?
- Would the trademark be defended with continuing determination?
- Would the idea remain as potent, would it still capture the attention of followers?
- Would the visionary continue to be elevated to grand heights?
Anyways I hear you cry, this is all hypothetical nonsense.
DOT is a $6bn monster and we’re all going to the moon.
Ok. note the lower case - because there’s this messy thing called the polkadot protocol.
It’s not a trademark.
It’s not an idea - since it has hard edges.
It’s not a person - though it is designed.
It’s not a token - though it is coordinated through one.
So is Kusama part of the protocol.
Yes. And no. Well sort of.
What about Substrate?
Yes that’s the protocol. And no. Well sort of.
Yeah, now this makes sense. I think. You see polkadot is software - fu SEC #bullish.
It’s not just a trademark, an idea, a person, a token, a protocol, it’s also good old fashioned tech.
So what does the software do?
Well it’s software to coordinates the development of itself. Hmm. Deep. Itself?
Yeah, it’s a machine, building a machine.
Sure. So what does the machine do?
Well, it does what it does. Unless it changes. Then it becomes something new.
Yeah. What’s the product.
Well it’s shared security.
But I thought it was coretime?
Oh yes. It’s both.
But more. It’s also a software called Substrate for developing new versions of the existing version, that may or may not connect to the current version.
Right. And so these new versions. What are they? Well they’re parachains. Or apps. Or they could be anything that needs blockspace.
Blockspace? Ok. Right. I’m going to have to lie down.
So lets try and summarise things.
- Polkadot is and isn’t a brand.
- Polkadot is definitely a trademark… but its sort of irrelevant.
- Polkadot is an idea - though that idea is open to interpretation
- Polkadot is a person - but for it to succeed, it needs to be apolitical
- Polkadot is a token and a market cap (but speculation tends to work directly against adoption).
- Polkadot is a protocol - but it’s pretty hard to see the edges…
- Polkadot is software - but its software for creating itself…
- Polkadot is a product (or products?) - it’s security, its coretime, it’s ‘quality blockspace’…
Polkadot is whatever people want it to be.
In the end, it it already a ‘headless brand’.
I personally have no interest in the brand narratives being presented or discussed, others might, but they all seem generic, undifferentiated and already behind the curve.
You don’t get anywhere interesting with focus groups. Just mediocrity. Middle of the road. Grey.
But I get it, people have jobs. They must follow a process.
They must deliver the work. They must be, busy.
Despite the market cap and the billboards in airports, Polkadot is not a ‘blue chip brand’… billion dollar valuations do not make crypto-networks comparable to Nike, or Apple, or Vodafone.
To think so is the height of hubris.
Polkadot is a scrappy startup, reaching for product market fit, weighed down (like the rest of crypto) by astronomical valuations that are so far detached from reality it is absurd.
On top of this, most of the people attempting to dictate it’s brand story have never actually used it, nor considered the fact that there may just be a different way to create coherence from the noise…
Reassuringly, this is a standard pattern for social networks… (which Polkadot/polkadot is), since it is the culture of the people who inhabit the protocol who define its purpose.
YouTube was designed as a dating app.
So was Facebook.
You cannot tell people to use Polkadot.
It takes the users of the technology to shape its purpose. To define it culture. To ensure its adoption.
We are the users we seek.
Once you forget the valuations and disregard the treasuries and the zero sum games the incentives create, you find yourself free… free to think bold, lateral and dare we day dangerous thoughts.
For polkadot is at its core, just an idea… and that idea is at its most potent about rebellion.
- It is rebellions that light fires in hardened hearts.
- That motivate actions with no interest in economic reward.
- That sends people into a battle they can’t win, simply because they feel something.
This is how polkadot - the idea - succeeds. There is no other way.
Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you ALIVE - Sid Vicious