Polkadot Summit - Brand Refresh Workshop

Polkadot Summit - Brand Refresh Workshop

Hi all, huge thanks to those who attended the Polkadot Brand Refresh Workshop at the Summit prior to Decoded.

I’d also like to say a huge thanks to those of you on the Forums who are consistently providing insightful comments and constructive feedback on these Summit Forum posts.

Brand Refresh Workshop
Estimated Number Attendees: 33

Key Participants:

  • Chris Beckles - Presenting
  • Remy Le Berre - Moderating & Note taking

Chris recently joined Parity as part of the Creative team, with the goal to bring Polkadot’s branding and positioning to new heights.

> “When I joined the ecosystem I was surprised to see the level of engagement and awareness of Polkadot, especially due to the branding, being well, unclear.”

The Need For Change
Polkadots position and its brand identity is currently unclear

  • Currently, the brand is represented as a tight tactical visual set of design assets.
  • We’re in a noisy market, lots of confusing offers, similar sounding positioning statements. This all helps add to the unclear brand experience.
  • It’s imperative that we be super clear how we articulate our brand. At the moment, there’s lots of confusion around phrases, terms and tech.
  • Part of the branding needs to demonstrate how we can make it more consistent.
  • To the tech savvy gurus, it’s great. To the conquest audiences, it’s another story. These audiences need to be introduced to the brand softly using simple terms and applications.
  • Polkadot owns Web3 and we should be standing head and shoulders above the rest. Of course, this proposition will evolve over time but all brands should evolve. A clear example of how brands shifted was when mobile phones became mass market, many reputable brands shifted their visual systems to remain relevant.

Many think that Product = Brand, whilst this can be true for some, it’s not the case when it comes to Polkadot. Polkadots Interoperability sets it aside from this simplistic point of view.

Where we’re at today

  • A tight tactical set of brand design assets
  • No clear ‘benefit driven’ role in people’s lives
  • Perceived as ‘Underground’, but not for much longer

So how do we progress?

  • Know ourselves better as Polkadot.
  • Understanding the world of our end users and working out how best to articulate our messaging.
  • Once we’re able to crack that code we’ll have almost 1-1 conversations on how we can push that messaging.
  • We’ll have the ability to empower our partners with creative tools so they can connect with their audiences more efficiently.
  • Be less ‘tech’ and more ‘people’. We’ll persuade through ‘Use cases’, a tried and tested methodology that is proven to work.

The Anatomy of a brand
> “A brand is an associative memory in the mind of the consumer, who connects the brand with a set of attributes, benefits, impressions or emotions”. - David Ogilvy

After Chris’s presentation the next stage of the workshop was getting the audience and attendees involved with a Brand Archetype activity to find out where people think Polkadot’s brand is today.

Prior to the exercise, Chris led us through and explained the 12 brand Archetypes alongside the personalities and examples of brands that align with them. We’ve briefly summarised the archetypes below alongside a graphic illustrating each of the 12 archetypes.

The Outlaw

  • All about revolution and disruption. Outlaws demand more and they’re not afraid to go out there and get it.
  • E.g: Virgin, Harley Davidson, Diesel

The Magician

  • Magicians are mystical, informed and reassuring. This archetype portrays the idea that tomorrow will always be brighter than today.
  • E.g. Coca Cola, Disney, Dyson

The Caregiver

  • Caregivers are altruistic, warm and reassuring, representing the concept that society needs to be looked after. Care should be dispensed willingly and for the betterment of all mankind.
  • E.g. Unicef, WWF

The Sage

  • Sages are knowledgeable and guiding, helping others follow a path.
  • E.g. Google, BBC, Universities

The Lover

  • The lover is sensual, empathetic and soothing.
  • E.g. Chanel, Victoria Secrets, Alfa Romeo

The Hero

  • Heroes are honest, candid and brave
  • E.g. Adidas and Nike

The Explorer

  • Explorers, like the name suggests, are always exploring, they’re fearless and take that leap of faith.
  • E.g. The North Face, Jeep

The Jester

  • Jesters are fun, loving and playful
  • E.g. M&M’s, Old spice

The Creator

  • Creators are inspirational, daring and provocative
  • E.g. Lego, Apple, Adobe

The Everyman

  • The Everyman archetype is friendly, humble and authentic
  • E.g. IKEA, Target, Lynx

The Innocent

  • The Innocent archetype is Optimistic, Honest and Humble
  • E.g. Aveeno, Dove, Innocent smoothies

The Ruler

  • Rulers are commanding, refined and articulate
  • E.g. Louis Vuitton, Mercedes Benz, Rolex

We’ve highlighted below a diagram which depicts and explains the different archetypes as well as their closest neighbours.

Jumping into the activity, we gave everyone a few minutes to discuss between themselves where they think Polkadot’s brand positioning currently stands. Ensuring we heard from everyone within the room, we passed a microphone around and asked each person to provide their thoughts as we took a tally. It’s important to stress, people were allowed to vote for more than one archetype if they felt more than one represented the brand personality in a clearer way.

Results from the discussion

Analysing the above, it’s clear to see that most summit attendees placed Polkadots branding within the Hero category, depicting the brand as Honest, Candid and Brave.

Question for the forums!
We’ve had the opportunity to ask some of the ecosystem leader’s for their thoughts, now we want our community’s feedback. What’s your opinion on polkadot’s current brand positioning and where do you think we’re currently placed? Which direction or archetype should we aim to move towards?

Branding is a powerful business tool for growth, a strong brand equates to a purposeful and differentiated brand platform.

Brand Statistics

  • Brand represents 33% of business value across the Fortune 500
  • Strong brands grow 44% faster than ‘average’ F500 Brands
  • 3% increase in ‘Brand Strength’ translates into an average of 1% increase in market share

Brand Refresh Objective
*> “Our Brand refresh will communicate clearly and consistently to the market and will sustain the trust of our current audiences while gaining the trust of prospective newcomers.” *

Important Issues To Tackle

  • Consistency - Arguable one of the most important aspects to tackle
  • Humanizing the brand
  • The desire and need to stand out
  • Creating a clarity of purpose
    What other issues do we need to address?

Stage 01
Polkadot Immersion

  • Interview Insight Film
  • Overview of Research & Survey Data
  • Overview of in & Out-of-Industry Benchmarking
  • Overview Insights and Opportunities
  • Online Research Portal

Stage 02

  • Narrative & Strategy
  • Deliverables
  • Workshops preparation and facilitation
  • Polkadot Brand Narrative
  • Polkadot Brand Strategy
  • Key Brand messaging Guide

Stage 03

  • Evolved Design System
  • Deliverables
  • Creative Concept Film
  • Tone of Voice & Brand Character Guidance
  • Evolved Design System
  • Brand Application Mockups
  • Design System Portal

Closing & Round Up
As a final say, we’d like to once again express our gratitude to all those who made the effort to come down to the summit to partake, alongside this we’d like to thank the community who’ve been providing valued and constructive feedback for these summit notes.


Seems we can do our own poll for the people on this forum:

“Where do you think Polkadot’s brand positioning currently stands?”

Choose one or more:

  • The Outlaw
  • The Magician
  • The Caregiver
  • The Sage
  • The Lover
  • The Hero
  • The Explorer
  • The Jester
  • The Creator
  • The Everyman
  • The Innocent
  • The Ruler
0 voters

As for my own comments: there was a large, multi-month, multi-party brand campaign which ended with a public vote for Polkadot’s new token icon and brand identity:

As outlined in the roadmap, months of research and feedback was taken throughout the process, including formal interviews of 28 Polkadot stakeholders, a public community survey of ~200 responses, and so forth. As part of the on-chain bounty, four curators from different parts of the Polkadot ecosystem were selected to steward the process and work of Koto Studio. Please see the roadmap to gain an overview of the process.

It looks to me this process is about to repeat, which seems like such a waste of resources when it is not being built on top of existing work.

So what can Chris Beckles tell us about what he learned from all of the information, notes, interviews, etc from the last brand refresh?

  • Where is he starting from?
  • What assumptions has already been validated?
  • What needs to be re-validated?
  • What needs to be discarded?
  • What needs to be researched?

Unfortunately, I come from a perspective where people around Polkadot repeat the same work over and over, not having learned from the past, and making all the same historical mistakes and errors.


I would vote for lover, only because it made me laugh.

It might be worth the Polkadot marketing team reading Headless Brands if they haven’t already.

While brands have traditionally been planned and designed directly by corporations, the rise of networked media has challenged the coherence of centrally-managed brand identities. New blockchain-based decentralized organizations take this a step further by giving users financial incentive to spread brand narratives of their own. We introduce the concept of headless brands to explain the community-driven brand dynamics of projects which have no centralized managerial body.

I can understand some of Shawn’s concerns. Up till now these re-branding campaigns seemed like big, singular efforts that are not really connected. It is my understanding though that Chris wants to move into a more regular cadence, where the brand is slightly updated every six months or so as the world is constantly changing. A lot of confusion stems also from the fact that we were left with a set of extrinsic brand assets after the Koto rebranding, but not really with aligned intrinsic ones. So I’m assuming this refresh is more about aligning on the intrinsic values as a foundation and will make all following brand updates more coherent, easier and lighter.

As for my two cents, Polkadot’s strengths lie in pushing what’s possible and consequently pursuing the web3 vision of decentralization and expanding the range of options. It’s the thought leader in the space. More Tesla and SpaceX, less Volkswagen or Target.

Sounds great to me! The question is who are our end users? We’ll be trialing a continuous interviewing initiative in the product team, where we talk to users on a weekly basis to get a very specific idea about their needs, desires and pain points. I want to get really specific here: who are the users that interact with Polkadot in a bear market? What are their motivations? Do some of the web3 values (individual freedom, skepticism towards authorities etc.) resonate with them?

For me, letting the current user base and community grow feels more authentic than doing a generic end-user campaign (who cares about Facebook-Solana NFTs now?). In a similar way I think about Polkadot’s brand. How will the brand authentically reflect some of the core values that motivated its existence in the first place – empowering the user, alternatives to monopolies, new forms of organising etc. ?

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Personification of the brand:

“The Mountaineer (OR// The Alpinist),” like Alex Honnold. Such focused determination that the goal over-rides every other consideration. The goal is the process, seeking out the next crack in the rock face because it is there to be done. Wealth, fame and personal safety are all secondary to the process.

Honnold’s goal is to climb. That’s it. No compromises. No short-cuts.

Polkadot’s goal is building an internet that is owned and controlled by it’s users. That’s it. No compromises. No short-cuts.

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Hi Shawn, thanks for your points here - All solid observations. This next phase of brand development will actually build on the output from the original project you mention. There’s an immersion playback deck we’re using as the baseline for the new agency. The development philosophy here is ‘Evolution not revolution’.
But that document alone is not enough to provide robust direction for where the brand needs to go next. It’s content is already dated. Our industry moves so fast. A strong, strategic brand platform is the core foundation for any successful marketing program. The Polkadot brand has been lacking this deeper foundation.
There’s still too much ambiguity attached to the Polkadot brand - too much open to interpretation. There are many inconsistencies across our visual identity and critical baseline elements that remain undefined. No specific tone of voice for messaging. No Definitive Brand guidelines. No strategic ‘North Star’. A relevant core strategy is essential. This comes from the deep dive research period about to be conducted.
Community engagement will be essential. We’re planning a sequence of online activities designed to provide a platform for engagement and opinion. A feedback loop and the encouragement of healthy discussion. This brand will belong to all of us.
We’re working on ‘stage appropriate’ surveys, questionnaires, polls and community input. Community members will be part of the core team. We want transparent representation - a fair and open evolution of the brand based on diverse thinking and a spectrum of views.
Brand perception will no doubt have changed during the time between the original Brand refresh and now. It’s important to collect and review this sentiment.
Once strategy is defined, alignment will follow through the brand philosophy and more executionally, through the visual system.
I firmly believe in an iterative design philosophy. This will be the next stage of that process.

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Hi Rich, thanks for sharing the Headless Brands link and info… I’ve been following the development of Headless brands for a few years now and absolutely agree it could be the future of marketing - Utilising the power of the decentralised community is incredibly powerful - and creates a body of advocates and ambassadors organically amplifying the brand. At present, Polkadot has a far more basic requirement - we need to define the basics - and define them well. Hence our refresh strategy. We’ll then be able to explore a Headless brand model and create a framework to measure performance…


Ok, let’s start with the most basic question - what do you consider “Polkadot”?

nice comparison, much love to Alex Honnold!

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!
Our Polkadot Brand refresh project has now started with phase 1 (discovery phase) currently underway! As part of this phase, we’re holding interviews and creating questionnaires asking a host of important questions of our respective audiences. This process is designed to identify current brand identity, personality and brand equity, plus what insights exist that we can extract and leverage in terms of the refreshed brand strategy.

We’re looking to you, our community, stakeholders and ecosystem to give us your own thoughts and feelings about the Polkadot Brand. The link below will take you to a short questionnaire where you’ll be able to add your valuable perspective and opinion on the brand as it currently stands.


We’ll be closing the questionnaire on Thursday 3rd August - so if you’d like to contribute to this stage of information gathering, please submit your entry before the end date!

Many thanks for your time and help with this important stage of the process! Have a great weekend all!


GM, as a designer who has been in the Polkadot ecosystem through an existing rebrand I’d like to point out a few things which have been frustrating for a very long time. My apologise in advance if any of these comment sound blunt and/or rude but this has been boiling inside me for a very long time and it is in my interest to make our ecosystem better.

Some Salty Comments from a designer within the ecosystem

  1. I would argue that we are over-complicating and even over-designing the brand here. Before we even begin to address a rebrand it is important to evaluate the elephant in the room: copyright issues in relation to Yayoi Kusama. I believe the name of the chain itself has to change IMMEDIATELY. Look at projects like LayerZero, I mean – that’s a straight forward term and I’d argue a copy/paste of Polkadot… with a much clear and concise name. We need to change this YESTERDAY because I am sure there have been issues in the past with the Kusama foundation, someone can feel free to chime in if this is incorrect.

  2. We need to stop saying that we “own” Web3. Nobody can “own” an idea to which society comes to collectively and we as a community will sound like a group of privileged snobs. Yeah, we have the most advanced tech(Gavin did coin the term but how else would we call this evolution of the web? certianly not web7), and I have no doubt that it will reign in the future, but if you looked at tradFi and what is going on in the real world they are clearly testing their products on chains like Polygon and Avalanche (not that I personally mind as I am not a fan of these institutions, pretty sure more community members share this opinion) and using new terminology like “subnets” which are becoming a standard for something like parachains.

  3. The community was unanimously opposed to the new Polkadot brand, memes were shared, shots were fired and yet it has still been enforced. It really wasn’t a democratic vote as we didn’t have an option to reject both options.

  4. The imagery we use for the current brand are relatively generic and they resemble more a child or toy brand and not some of the most advanced blockchains in the industry.

  5. When I exited the airport in Austin during Consensus, I literally wanted to wrap myself in my hoodie from embarrassment due to the branding slogan which was an OBVIOUS un-truth(LOL): “Meet the largest multichain ecosystem in Web3”. Really? Let me repeat this: We have the most advanced technology in the space and we are using this as messaging. This needs to stop now.

  6. There was a promo image for Decoded from Sub0 (I was in it) with the writing; “Find out why 20,000 artists are minting music on Polkadot”. Can someone show me these 20,000 artists, cause I surely don’t see them.


1. Builders
We are missing critical parts of infrastructure, I say this from my experience as a founder of a tech project within the ecosystem and an individual that has previously freelanced on multiple other projects. Hence we need to attract builders that like to hack, explore, are not afraid of things breaking etc. Someone who is a pioneer and isn’t afraid to dabble into tech without needing someone to hold their hand. Even though we have a great community and everyone is here to help + excited when new people come into the eco!

There should probably be a CTA on the landing page and something to consider in marketing campaigns etc. I suppose we need to poach some rust developers, sponsor more rust hackathons, get involved in the rust community etc. Our Builders Program is very friendly and supportive, so are all the other devs in the community and from Parity because everyone loves what they do here. The whole ecosystem is so excited to build stuff even though things break all the time and we don’t care. Solving all these issues is an exciting challenge for every single one of us. It would be amazing to see decentralised orgs of DevOps popping up so that our entire ecosystem can decentralise even more, especially with the recent Polkadot update. Let’s also make learning fun, have challenges that revolve around a story, online academies etc. All of this can tie into a gamified branding narrative.

We can lead the new builders to Polkadot and Kusama development, parachains such as KILT, AlephZero, Phala, Manta, Apillon, Astar and MoonBeam etc.

Tie all these projects together and show examples of cross chain functionality and how dapps can sit in between them. Eg. KILT x Phala digital private IDs and so much other crazy stuff like Manta ZK NFTs

2. The End User

I cannot stress this enough: PROMOTE PARACHAINS APPS and dAPSS THAT ARE READY TO USE, with step by step guides(I am using examples here of the projects I personally use so the steps will be biased, they are only here to prove my point):

  1. Download Nova for mobile / Talisman for Desktop to begin your journey
  2. Get Dot / KSM and Stake, use liquid staking on eg. Bifrost
  3. Participate in Governance(not just dot/ksm but any chain), make decisions about the future of the network , links to subsquare, polkassembly with guides on how to participate → THIS IS A BENEFIT BTW. Testing out novel governance models in a world where democracy is failing is one of the most interesting social experiments on the planet
  4. Use HydraDX for OTC stuff, transfer tokens from outside the eco, place DCA orders etc
  5. User Interlay to bridge your BTC, take out a loan etc
  6. Open a prediction market on ZTG, research and place your bet on the future
  7. Share your opinions and experiences on Subsocial’s PolkaWorld or enjoy your anon privacy on GrillChat
  8. Use Crust’s decentralised storage
  9. Mint NFTs on KodaDot, MoonBeans, or any other marketplace in the ecosystem, we can display top collections from each platform on a page too

—> there are many more examples but you get the gist. Keep in mind that our entire society lacks knowledge on both finance and blockchain development, so there MUST be introductions to some of these things.

FYI the branding is not great for tech savy gurus, they don’t care because they read the docs and not the branding. Look at the branding of ETH Berlin3. That IMO was the most attractive brand positioning for drawing in these kinds of builders.

If you keep changing the brand consistently you will lose energy, financial resources, human resources and the brand will never settle in with an audience. I am not saying this can be done right immediately, hell I’ve made 85045049 versions of the KodaDot logo and 2x versions of the WebZero logo, 2x versions of the Ordum logo (but keep in mind that I am one person and you folks are a machine with tons of cogs…and I do understand that these cogs can create annoying dependencies and disagreements, I get it) but we will be on V3 and it’s time to kind of wrap this stuff up.

I sincerely to apologise if either of the above sounded offensive (I have a lack of filters tbh and as a community member I am just very upset and even sad when it comes to our visual identity, website, and communications. We have such cool technology and I just want to scream and rip my hair out when I see this stuff on a daily basis).

I know Chris has a hard job in front of him, balancing out everyone’s wishes is difficult here, but we must be critical of our own shortcomings and if we are just surrounded by: Yes-men then we won’t get too far, will we?


Nice meeting you, Chris. Thank you for putting all your thoughts here. I am writing to give my very personal opinion on your ideas posted.

After reviewing some of the questionnaires from the link you provided, it appears to me that you are somewhat unintentionally(I believe) forcing the community to fit Polkadot into a traditional corporate branding approach.

  • Imagine Polkadot as a person. What three words would you use to describe their personality?
  • What character would Polkadot play in a movie?
  • What emotions do you hope an end-user would feel when using a Polkadot-enabled product or service?

If you would like to adopt a community-driven approach to the rebranding project, it might not be the best to impose the traditional branding approach and methods on Polkadot and ask everyone in the community to follow it from the start.
Traditional corporate branding may not be effective in Web3 space imho. I think it would be more helpful to assess the case studies from other successful examples in the same Web3 sphere. If you feel that something is wrong with the current branding, perhaps you can ask the community for feedback on how we can improve before engaging a third-party creative agency and setting the direction narrowly?

I would also like to clarify that I don’t agree on your claim below as part of the premise of the re-branding:

Polkadot owns Web3 and we should be standing head and shoulders above the rest.

No one can own a decentralized web, or its brand, and claiming otherwise is like telling people that we don’t understand Web3 correctly. I fear such statement could actually alienate people from Polkadot in the Web3 world, instead of attracting more builders and community members. Perhaps you got the idea of “Polkadot owns Web3” because Gav, the founder of Polkadot, was the first to propose Web3.0 in its current sense. But it doesn’t mean Web3 can be owned by someone, and I think it cannot be part of the narrative of re-branding.

There are many people in the ecosystem who care deeply about Polkadot and Web3 and can provide valuable assistance to this project, I believe. I personally care about the positive impact this technology can potentially bring to the world. I hope you can engage more people from the community and work together to bring about positive changes. Thank you again.

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Hi Obi,
It’s a pleasure to meet you! Thanks so much for your reply to the posting of the questionnaire and also for your thoughts, insights and observations.
Without you, your perspective and the perspectives of the community, we can’t hope to build out a better brand - So I really appreciate the time, thought, consideration and passion you so clearly demonstrate.
To add a little context to some of the points you raise, I’d like to begin by explaining that the questionnaire shared last week is the first of multiple engagement pieces designed by our 3rd party Brand partner. Over the next three months, we plan to engage the business, ecosystem and community multiple times to garner the opinion, experience and insights regarding the perception of the Polkadot brand.
And you’re completely correct. It really isn’t the intention of the brand team to force the community to fit Polkadot into a traditional corporate branding process.
I’d like to see somebody try :slight_smile:
What we’re creating is a hybrid brand development model.
We’ll be utilising best practice from existing brand design processes (Brand Archetypes for example as a method to quickly classify perceptions of our brand), examining our extrinsic and intrinsic signals, identifying value propositions and brand expression to foster greater alignment with core strategy, competitive analysis of existing brand design assets and our outward facing touchpoints to better understand how and where we need to refine and evolve - If indeed we need to evolve.
The reason we should use such techniques is to provide a baseline of where we are right now. A ‘simple to understand’, transparent synopsis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in our existing brand platform. In my humble opinion, the most successful brands all have a strategy at their core.
As far as I can tell, the Polkadot brand does not. I’ve searched.
Without this strategic core, it becomes impossible to measure how and what we engage the community with. How we identify bona fide pain points.
We operate at a reductive ‘tactical’ level. Fix this specific item. Rework that thing. And so it goes indefinitely.
Of course, we can ask our community questions. But without a baseline, (the ‘control’ in an A/B test for example) we have no framework for structured, prioritised improvement.
And let’s not underestimate the importance of the Polkadot community in this project.
We want to build an authentic community engagement model, gathering opinion, gleaning insights, practical real world experience, amazing ideas and issues that need to be fixed. We’ll seek brand guidance and expert witnesses - all contributing to the ongoing development of the brand refresh. We’ll be delivering more questionnaires in the coming weeks and months, asking for and providing feedback, updates and opinions to help influence the direction we go in.
This all begins with the discovery phase.
We’ve also created a stakeholder group including Polkadot founders, Engineers, representatives of the ecosystem, members of our community and the business. This group will be involved with every step of the process, providing critical insights and helping to ensure the project is surfaced in a fair and equitable manner.
The process will follow an expansive then reductive process - No brand strategy direction or foundational parameters will be set before the community has been engaged.
I also agree with your point of view regarding Web3 and ownership. I don’t believe the agency intended this phrase to be part of the eventual rebranding premise or strategy - but more a catalyst to create a reaction. It’s way too early to be defining any actual premise yet. That said, we’ll double down and ensure this is clear moving forward.
Finally, I’m really grateful to you for your thoughts and advice Obi. And to all the members of the community who care deeply about Polkadot and Web3. We’re looking forward to moving our strategic brand in the right direction. Thank you!

I think there are two types of users:

  1. Those that look for a web 3 /crypto experience when using applications. Think of DeFi users
  2. Those that don’t care about the technology and just want a great user experience.

In my opinion, if we want to onboard billions of users, then we need to focus on those who don’t care about the technology. To onboard those, we need dApps can provide more value to those users than web 2 applications.

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insane, but it’s not even exhaustive.

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