Crypto branding is becoming more sophisticated as competition heats up. Until quite recently, the leading cryptocurrencies had straightforward and fairly boring names, often descriptive of their use-case: there was a Filecoin for files, a Peercoin for peers, a Darkcoin for… some stuff, and, on the fun side, a Dogecoin (which ostensibly had no use at all).
But as the marketplace tightens, the arms race between cryptos is moving from the technological arena to a more corporate stadium, and a quick scroll down CoinMarketCap is becoming like a tour of an ad agency’s pitch boards.
Try A Google Search For Qlink
The latest to embrace rebranding is Qlink, a Neo-based token whose project aims at providing a distributed telecoms network. In a press release issued today the former Qlink team informed investors that their project would rebrand to QLC Chain.
“By adopting the new name and new logo,” said Susan Zhou in her statement, “we would like to deliver a clearer message that the team’s core mission is to leverage the advanced blockchain technology to network industry, providing network service through a simpler, more pleasant, and more secured way with full transparency.”
The name change was applauded in the Qlink–sorry, QLC Chain–community, but not without some mutterings. “Qlink is more catchy in my opinion,” one redditor commented, and others chimed in agreement. And, as pedants pointed out, if the “C” in QLC Chain represents the word ‘chain,’ the last word is redundant: as in “PIN Number’ and “ATM Machine.”
Ms. Zhou did not mention another advantage, which is that people searching for the coin on Google or Bing would no longer mistake it for a wireless provider of the same name.
When it comes to choosing a name, most crypto projects go for catchy monosyllables that lend themselves to simple tickers. Simple names stick. Think Orange. Xerox. Viagra. Google.
Names matter, and in a marketplace of unintelligible acronyms and alien-sounding words, there is a serious advantage in having a name—and a ticker symbol—that can be recognized instantly. Many up-and-coming projects that can be easily spotted by their simple monosyllables: like LOOM, QASH, KIN, Lisk, or AION, and only a couple of tongue-twisters like Cortex and Zilliqa.
In fact, 16 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization have the exact same ticker symbol as their project’s name. (Seventeen, if you count DOGE).
A similar phenomenon affects companies in other stock markets, where the ticker symbol originated. The most nouveaux tech companies choose syllables, which are easy to pronounce (and remember). Tickers that can be virtually pronounced phonetically, like AAPL, ADBE, GOOGL and TSLA, do not require much imagination to decipher, but only one of the Dow Jones companies can actually boast the same ticker symbol as its name. (At least, now that British Petroleum is BP.)
Legacy companies can be spotted by their venerable acronyms. Would you have guessed that CVX represents Chevron? Or associate the Kraft Heinz Company with the acronym KHC instead of the more familiar KRAFT?
Whatever Happened To Antshares?
Here’s one example: AntShares is arguably a much better name for a startup than it is for an established company. If someone were telling you about Antshares for the first time, the name might not be self-explanatory – but it lends itself to a very personal story: it’s a token whose ownership entitles you to a small fraction, or an Ants’ share, of the blockchain’s programming power. By holding an Antshare, you would receive a small income of Antcoins, you could spend to run programs on the formic blockchain.
But what happens when the company becomes too big to tell everyone its story? Now the world is suddenly swarming with people who have no idea why this company has such an odd name. Should you look for the ticker ANS or ANT? And, once you figured that out, would you know that Antshare coins are listed as ANC?
This is exactly what prompted Antshares to rebrand. The token did not lose much by changing the name (having already proven itself in the marketplace) and had quite a bit to gain from a snappy, catchy new name, which the developers chose from the Greek for “newness, novelty and youth.” Antshares climbed dramatically after the rebranding, and the name now rolled a bit more fluidly from the tongue: NEO.
Does it help that the project comes in Matrix green? Sure. Does it help to have a partner named Trinity? Probably just coincidence.
The trend of simplifying or truncating a projects’ name is becoming more common, especially for those projects who chose nicknames from somewhere in Left Field. “Raiblocks” didn’t make complete sense, even if you made the association with the enormous stone coins used on Yap Island. “Is it, ray or rye?” was the subject of one of the community’s most divisive debates, along with “Ditch the blocks! Just call it Rai!”
The developers silenced the debate with a rebrand that everyone could pronounce. “The Core Team wanted a name that represented the simplicity and speed of the project, and Nano does just that,” the developers announced. And, though the new name probably did nothing to directly raise interest in the project, the publicity around the rebranding certainly did. RaiBlocks—now Nano— went on a high speed-bull run until it broke its neck in a ditch called BitGrail.
As competition gets more intense, branding will become an increasingly-important aspect to creating a successful project. But that doesn’t mean older projects must consign themselves to the scrapheap of crypto history.
Bitquence was practically un-Googleable, until it rebranded itself to Ethos. And Darkcoin, alluded to earlier in this article, sounded like something conceived by a couple of teenagers in a Hot Topic dressing room. After much discussion, the Darkcoin community settled on a nickname that emphasized the coin’s speed over its deep web associations and propelled it, for some time, into the top ten: Dash.
THE CRYPTO BRANDING EXPERTS: 16 SYMBOL / TOKEN COMBOS
The author has positions in Nano, NEO, and Dash, which are mentioned in this article.