Polkadot's Brand

Hello everyone. This is Sota Watanabe, founder of Astar. One thing I have been criticized by people outside of the Polkadot ecosystem is that Polkadot is not good at marketing as this student suggested in another thread.

I believe Polkadot is technically the most sophisticated protocol in the entire blockchain industry. However, history shows us that the most technically sophisticated protocol always doesn’t win. Even though the best products are out there, people won’t use them without their awareness.

What we may be able to do is provide all of the Parity’s technical achievements under Polkadot’s brand. If I were the CEO at Parity, I would definitely do this.

Actually, Cosmos is very good at this like Cosmos SDK, CosmWasm, Cosmos IBC, and so on. However, we have Substrate, ink!, Sub0, and so on and new people don’t associate for example Substrate with Polkadot. And today, for example, ink! is introduced as “Parity’s ink! to write smart contracts” on Twitter. Imo, it is better to say “Polkadot’s ink! to write smart contracts built by Parity” or “Polkadot’s smart contracts language made by Parity”. Also, it is better to say Sub0 is a Polkadot developer conference.

Why not provide all technical achievements and conferences under Polkadot’s brand?

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It depends if you are talking about Polkadot (the brand, IP, domains) or polkadot (the protocol, source code and state).

This is one thing that tends to not be discussed much - imo, it is Astar/astar’s purpose to market polkadot, whereas it is Parity/W3F to market Polkadot.

It might seem like a very nuanced take, but for both polkadot, Astar and indeed Polkadot to succeed, it won’t be solely through monolithic top down marketing.

That takes you a long way, but the onus is also on you to think outside of the box when it comes to communicating some novel technical capability…

Thank you for your reply. I am talking about Polkadot (brand). I agree that solely monolithic top-down marketing won’t solve the problem. But it is worth trying to do so. In addition to that, do you have any ideas for marketing polkadot in an “outside the box” way as you described above?

I have a very “outside the box” way to market Polkadot (or maybe rather Kusama :sweat_smile:). It is definitely controversial though and I think the timing has to be right for it to work. Furthermore I am not sure it would attract the right audience.

Without further ado…

What about showcasing the power of decentralization and blockchain governance through an example and getting the worlds media to explain how blockchain governance works to the masses?

For this we are going to need to use governance in a way that people would be excited about. Earning free money usually gets people excited…

Concretely:
If someone created a referendum that at a future block X all KSM currently in circulation from all wallets would be rebalanced (total KSM split amongst all wallets evenly), how much attention do you think this would get?

Maybe in the spirit of chaos, many current holders would initially vote “aye” on this proposal (votes can always be updated :wink:), signalling that it might just pass. The prospect of free money could attract major media attention and will surely see people racing to create wallets before block X. To combat bots etc. we could maybe make use of DIDs (get the media to explain these too :rofl:)?

A softer version would be a proposal limited to distributing the treasury to all active wallets.

With gov2 anyone will be able to create referenda and I think we will have some crazy ones amongst them. What about using them to our advantage?

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hello,
this is Peter, CMO of parity since recently.

Thank you Sota for raising your concerns which I share.

In our effort to attract and engage new developers, builders - both for apps and parachains - to grow our ecosystem - my working assumption is that in that audience
a) most people, although familiar with Web3 and somewhat with Polkadot, are not in strong desire to hear new details about Polkadot every other day
b) attention span is short, like a few seconds at the start
c) we need to cut thru a lot of noise in congested communication channels
d) people - like everywhere else - do not want to be confused and prefer simple messages

The risk of working nonstop “in” polkadot for a long time is that we fully understand all the moving parts of it, how they relate to each other and what value they provide but cannot envision anymore how difficult it is for someone not familiar with it to piece substrate and it’s components, cumulus, ink, wasm, parachains, kusama, dotsama, interoperability, governance and more… together to see the big and bright picture of all of these things working together… and not just loose patience and then motivation on the way to do so.

In other words, we do not deliver on the assumptions a) - d) and that is what we hear from so many people: we need a more cohesive message and brand and make it easier to navigate it.

This has nothing to do with monolithic or top down vs. bottom up or decentralised - it is best practice in brand communication.

The good news is that this can be fixed thru a couple of bold steps we need to take - if we want to - which I will suggest in another post.

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If we have a recognizable brand of Polkadot, then marketing becomes stronger as projects announce the tools of polkadot.

“Astar adopts Polkadot’s ink!” is a stronger message than “Astar adopts ink! contracts.”

Of course, this doesn’t have to be “Polkadot ink!”, just a name that captures the Polkadot aspect of the tool/event. For example, (DotWASM, Polkadot Contracts, inkDOT!, etc…)

Polkadot architecture is confusing to newcomers: polkadot, kusama, substrate, ink!, WASM, parity? If we want more adoption and trust, then it’s our job to make it easy and clear for all users to know the whole Polkadot ecosystem.

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Most of people even confuse what substrate is, they think its a programming language for smart contracts that are deployed on polkadot chain. Like totally wrong information.

As CMO stated we need to clear the noise as we have spend most of the time understanding the nitty gritty of polkadot, substrate, xcm etc. We should make things so simple and describe the effect on them and not how they are and how they work.

We have our own niche as the most active devs in ecosystem behind ethereum. For devs its easy to understand polkadot but for normal users we need to build as this is our strength to build product that will affect their lives and not follow every trend like other ecosystem because we will be behind ethereum everytime if we try to chase the trend.

The advancement of light clients is an example. In Dotsama talisman wallet is light clients enabled. So users will experience true decentralisation and they will see how it matters when metamask censor some txns. So we are currently advancing light clients and thats affect users positively.

So lets keep pioneering these kind of innovation and not chase everything because we will be shadowed while we can dominate in our area and people will flock because they will soon care about the tools and philosophy of dotsama.

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Just a couple of additional thoughts:

In marketing and communications, it is essential to pass the “so what” test.

  • The question that you should ask when communicating an innovation or a new feature is “so what” i.e. why would your audience give a sh*t about this and how does it help them.
  • We’ve got better at this, but we still focus too much on the technology and not about the outcome/“so what” imho
  • E.g. take Light Clients, a description lifted from an article “Light clients are crucial elements in blockchain ecosystems. They help users access and interact with a blockchain in a secure and decentralized manner without having to sync the full blockchain”
  • I have to read six paragraphs down to finally understand what the fuss is all about and why is should care! “As a result, most users interacting with the blockchain will, voluntarily or not, use a centralized piece of infrastructure…”
  • For average people, the why is more important than the what. It’s a common issue with Polkadot content in the past and something we should focus on going forward

What is our key message?

  • Other chains are focusing on certain verticals (e.g. Avalanche with GameFi), some on institutions (Algorand and Polygon), some on performance metrics (e.g. Solana), some on complete freedom to build your own app chain (Cosmos)
  • What is Polkadot’s unique story here, in what area are we so much superior than others, what are we staking our claim on?

Who is our audience?

  • If we are saying that we are building an ecosystem for the technical elite, then we’re doing a great job - our metrics on developer engagement show that.
  • Or are we recognising that we need to appeal to the next million? Share with them why Polkadot is the developer hub of web3 in a way that the average degen can understand?
  • The answer can of course be both, but with two different audiences we require two different marketing approaches and content marketing strategies

We should recognise that there is a need for talented and experienced content marketers/branding experts to really think hard about these points, and work to adapt our existing message to a wider audience

We should recognise that many in web3 get their news/views/alpha from KOLs

  • We may feel awkward about interacting with KOLs (i certainly do), but it’s a excellent channel to reach new audiences that we don’t reach already.
  • I’m specifically talking about KOLs not already big in DOT, there are some talented Polkadot KOLs but you’re preaching to the choir
  • Money talks here, perhaps someone could organise to reach out to major KOLs and ensure that they deliver

As Peter mentioned, we are all in a pink coloured bubble, and that changes our view on everything

  • We should be comfortable seeking research, advice, guidance, and perspectives from outside our ecosystem, and make sure we welcome rather than shoot down uncomfortable opinions
  • In some cases an external person might offer feedback or an opinion of Polkadot that is false or misinformed. Instead of dismissing it, frame it in terms of how did we fail to educate or communicate so that nobody could possible be wrong about this?

We need central guidance unfortunately

  • Marketing is hard, one of my favourite quotes is “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter” (Churchill). In marketing/branding it’s quite relevant - coming up with sharp, concise, and clear tag lines, brand identities, and value propositions requires a huge amount of focussed thinking.
  • I strongly believe it’s best done by a small group that invest time into it, rather than by tens or hundreds of participants part time.
  • Many of us in the eco are ready to blow the trumpet, we just need to make sure that we are rowing in the same direction

In summary, we have some of the greatest technical minds in our ecosystem, but if we write content that only a select few can read, understand, and engage with, then we will never bring Polkadot to the masses - marketing and branding is one of the next big challenges for Polkadot

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Less focus on Polkadot and more on the cool usable stuff built upon it! Then people can say, oh, that’s possible because of Polkadot?

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I mainly agree with this.

The thing Polkadot is everything within its ecosystem, and all the branding done even at a parachain level should be with that focus. Parachains doing marketing should explain their use cases that can be run in the polkadot network, not explain a usecase and say we are Phala network … acala etc.

example: Polkadot network has ZKproofs technology enabled by “x” contract on the Phala network.
Polkadot network strong DeFi systems enabled by x,x,x,x,x provides solutions on x, x, x, etc.

The parachain focus should be Polkadot, and the reason is that the parachain unique value is the sum of all the cross utilities that are created by “all of the parachains”, the bottom line is we all need to focus and stop fracturing the ecosystem.

Ideally a Web3 solution gets launched in Polkadot that goes viral like what Elon is focusing next. the “any”.com app. and that would do the promotion by itself.

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“history shows us that the most technically sophisticated protocol always doesn’t win.”

“What we may be able to do is provide all of the Parity’s technical achievements under Polkadot’s brand.”

Absolutely agree. It’s difficult enough building one brand. It’s even more difficult in casual conversation to talk about two (project + Polkadot).

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I read your comment with great interest and I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

Perhaps prematurely, though, I’m going to offer my comment in the hopes that the views of a relative newcomer and complete techno-luddite might be of some value (or at least entertainment).

In response to your (great!) question “What is Polkadot’s unique story here, in what area are we so much superior than others, what are we staking our claim on?”, I can’t help thinking of one thing: security.

Recent months have seen rafts of exploits and hacks, and a through-line connecting many of them is that they took advantage of bridges. It’s my (layman’s) understanding, that a core tenet of Polkadot’s thesis is that all bridges are inherently vulnerable and thus the shared security model of relay chain/parachains represents an actually secure alternative.

As a confirmed ignoramus, that’s the kind of thing that (A) I can understand, (B) I value, (C) feels increasingly relevant in the current climate of exploit after exploit.

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Definitely a good point, especially since the goal over time is for Polkadot to increasingly offload responsibilities to parachains.

But as a counterpoint, earlier today on the server of a chain that is planning to vie for a parachain slot soon, a commentator said that they were opposed to it because they’d held DOT and some parachain tokens and were disappointed by their performance. In that case, it’s the image of Polkadot redounding to a (cool and usable, imo!) project building on it rather than the other way around.

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I’m 100% behind your comments here, but I’m wondering if we are all missing the real point.

Isn’t it better to brand Parachain Products/Projects using something similar to the “Intel Inside” branding model?

If more people see how successful consumer products (which under the hood are Parachains) are “built on Polkadot” - this in itself will drive developer interest and curiosity.

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