Marketing Data & Privacy Blockchain

If blockchain is the answer for global brands, what is the question?

By Scott McKenzie | Founder

October 12, 2022 | 7 min read

As part of The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, Mischief Maker’s Scott McKenzie argues that global brands can no longer ignore the promise of blockchain.

Blockchain illustration

/ Adobe Stock

It’s a simple question that seldom has a simple answer: why do we matter?

Brands struggle on this most basic of questions. Not just small or emerging brands, but big, public brands that have been around for a lifetime or more.

As the global village simultaneously grows closer with technologies designed to connect users and moves further apart with polarizing politics and fiscal policies, a unifying element may well be figuring out why your brand matters and understanding how to make it matter even more. Help may be at hand.

Having worked with a range of companies to tell their stories in disparate industries and geographies – to the public, investors and internally – I have found that the common gravity point for successful market positioning and global growth stories came when we identified why they mattered.

But there was a twist.

There is a common outlying thread as we grappled with the question. That twist? Blockchain as a growth enabler. For years a punchline among futurists as a catchall solution to the world’s woes, blockchain had grown up – and many had failed to notice.

Part of the blame can be assigned to the crypto crash. Leadership teams ran from blockchain, or at least didn’t run to it, because they assumed that if crypto was in bad shape then so too was blockchain. But they were wrong and the smart ones are figuring that out.

Their headline message is simple: blockchain is not crypto. Far from it. It is a rapidly-emerging growth accelerator for brands.

While the crypto crash played out, the more innovative players in the blockchain space were quietly building in the background and are now poised to help brands find borderless and sustainable growth in ways that have, to date, not been fully explored. Sustainability, banking and product provenance spring to mind as three areas of opportunity.

For these three alone, the answer is compelling: blockchain initiatives can remove friction from everyday actions and transactions and do so securely with unparalleled levels of transparency. The outcome is a measurable improvement in all parts of the value chain.

In other words, we can create value where there once was none. Just when brands thought they had wrung the revenue necks of their products, blockchain applications and platforms have come along to enable new value streams using existing product sets.

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An Olympic-sized example

A simple example is a recommendation to the French Olympic Games organizers for 2024. Ticketing fraud and widespread reselling on the secondary market mean organizers of large sporting events typically lose millions. And, of course, the prevalence of fake tickets exposes the consumer experience to risk. This is true of most major sporting events.

But a recommendation from the French Olympic Committee calls for tickets to be sold on a blockchain foundation. The outcome would bring an immutable environment for sales – no manipulation and no fraudulent tickets. No matter how many times or for how much those tickets were sold, the organizers would automatically get their cut. Fake tickets and scalpers would be removed from the process.

It should be apparent that blockchain has grown up and can solve real-world problems. Removing friction and enabling transparent, fair processes that scale like crazy and bolt onto existing technology stacks will be key to blockchain being a central element of global expansion for business.

There are good examples of using blockchain capabilities with NFTs and the like, but they have typically been ad-hoc instead of core to the business agenda. That will change.

But to accelerate that change, blockchain must shed the baggage of its jargon. DAOs, dapps, nodes, tokens... the list goes on. The lingua franca of blockchain is in and of itself creating a barrier to entry. Smart people in big companies are struggling to process why these words matter.

Instead of expecting the world to learn the jargon of blockchain, winning brands will turn to companies that bring outcomes devoid of jargon. The outcomes may well be a positive consequence of using blockchain, but it’s not the technological wizardry that matters. It’s 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 founder of Mischief Maker. For more on what marketers and their partners need to do to succeed on a global level, check out The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive.

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