The Curious Art of ICO Advertising or How to Sell your Product

In my opinion, ICOs are a very interesting case to study in the crypto market. They symbolize the optimist wishes of their creators, converted mostly into the blockchain world. The way they showcase their projects reminds me of a piece of art, varying between the most eccentrics, promising and serious cases, I like to analyze and observe their evolution from the first days and do a post-ICO follow up, whether the marketing is moving in the right direction and how the project adapting to the needs of the community.

For those who have been in this market for a while, an ICO is a bit like a McDonald’s ad. We’re presented with a beautiful burger which is selling us a tasty dream to finally realize that the famous “Big” Mac does not exceed the size of your fist just looks really ugly (I’m talking about the european Big Mac of course….). Anyway, what we are going to look here is how ICOs tries to make themselves look unique among their peers in this market and why the way they do it in such a repetitive way.

How can you, in a single sentence, change the way people see an ICO?

When I’m flipping through ICO’s whitepapers, the first argument I read the most is “The first crypto [insert your theme here]” or “The Biggest [insert your theme here] in the World ‘’ etc… The goal is simple, making us feel we’re witnessing the coming of a revolution, and missing it will be the greatest regret of your lige. They are supposedly the first to approach this market, so they have a bigger chance to gain monopoly on it in the future and since they are the first, there is a better chance of a good ROI for investors. They’re indirectly stating to have no concurrence (which is statistically false for almost every ICOs).

You might think I’m doing a big deal of it, but in my journey as a crypto writer and advisor, I’ve met so many people, sometimes experienced, that fall into the trap of “innovation”. It’s a cool looking place that goes into nowhere in the end.

The most important point when you’re analyzing the whitepaper of an ICO is how the team is structured, how they handle and talk about the project, how viable the idea is and how they promote it. Let’s see, from the point of view of an investor, the idea alone isn’t the criteria, but how they promote it and execute it that matters the most.

The aim for this type of sentence is to give a single and simple reason to take a look and invest in it. For example, the first ICO in the world that would be about providing medical data and receiving tokens in return sounds like a good idea, but should I take a look at it because it’s the first of its kind or because it’s coherent? Why should you invest in an ICO when the idea is already there, but without the crypto side?

Being first in something turns into the biggest argument for this kind of project and is also usually a red flag. It’s understandable to see excitement from investors with this magical word, it’s a simple, lazy reason but people are lazy and love simple things, simplicity means more accessibility hence more popularity and a larger audience. Bitcoin was the first and is the origin of this market, and everyone dreams to repeat the move the first adherents of Bitcoin did.

A rough example would be winning against Usain Bolt in his best form during a race would be great, but achieving the same when he will be 80 years old wouldn’t be the same accomplishment. It’s still the same person but the conditions are different. If an ICO comes too early in the market it aims or wants to create, it must be when the conditions are right, not when the potential market is empty of any concurrence. There’s usually a reason for why no one had that idea before. More simply, be smart on what and who you’re aiming to.

The cryptomarket in 2018 in a nutshell.

When you see these kinds of arguments, you first must ask yourself “Is it useful to invest now, when no one’s interested in it ?” or “Even though the idea behind it is good, how will they improve the accessibility of their product ?” Overcoming reality issues even during the ICO is the biggest and first obstacle every ICOs I’ve seen has to surpass, and honestly, over the hundreds of ICOs I’ve seen in my life, only a dozen or even less had actually a product accessible to the mainstream public. By accessible, I don’t only mean that they can be used, but that they can be found by people who are not into crypto gadgets, which is the wet dream of any crypto project. If I had an advice to give for anyone interested in doing an ICO, it’s to work heavily on the global accessibility the project, and if you’re already doing that then even if the product is not perfect, you’ll have a better chance than most of your peers (since it will leave a considerable margin of progress anyway).

The importance of colors and shapes.

To conclude this first part, I want to quickly talk about the importance of colors and shapes and their influences on you. Nowadays, websites allow more attention to the design of their webpages rather than the coherence of their projects. It’s nothing strange, since it’s the first thing you see. It’s usually the packaging that catches our attention before the content.

To captivate the attention of their visitors, they use the power of shapes and colors in a logical way. The way shapes and colors are blended is one of the most important aspects of a product. Whether it’s through a website, a video or an ad. It’s the first layer we see, and is the first challenge that every ICO must deal before advertising their ideas to the public. Each shape and colors have their own meanings, I will not introduce all of them, but I will quickly discuss the most important ones.

Circles are interpreted as positive, safe and relaxing. They also represent symbiosis, a living system. The poetic form of a heart has this round aspect with them to communicate that. Squares represent stability, safety and firmness, representing a serious and stable side. And finally triangles means power and danger, which is why many danger signs are triangular shaped. We could go deeper on the meaning of shapes but here are our three fundamentals. Let’s analyse quickly an ICO previously launched, Endor.

A dark background, a simple and clear font, the first impression of Endor is sobriety and simplicity. If you visited their website, you probably noticed it, everything is arranged to be rectangular. Everything is properly set up to come together as a puzzle. Dark, grey and black refer to mystery, sobriety and elegance.

Through this combination, the first idea we have of Endor before even reading what it’s about is something mysterious yet enticing. And then their speech complements the whole. They have to be coherent with the type of message they are sending. The good way isn’t to make the most pleasant website to see, but the most appropriate one to witness for a targeted audience. Which explains the choice of Endor, an ICO related to IA, a field that is still booming everyday, where even science fiction mixes into it. No one knows what the future will be about with IAs around, and Endor plays with that idea with their choice of colors, and the way they arrange and play with their forms.

That’s a relatively original design that sadly very few decide to follow. The problem is that a lot of ICOS don’t get that, and try to copy the design of their more successful peers. It creates a distasteful generalized image of what an ICO is, and what is legit is mixed with scams or less serious projects.

In itself, being inspired by the successful ones isn’t a bad idea , if their peers had an effective appearance, then the best idea would be to take notes of the same design. But there’s a thin line between being inspired and straight up copying. And due to that, it’s becoming harder and harder to prove to people how much your idea is worthy to put interest in this maze of “everything is the same”.

Here’s a thought for any CEO of an ICO. There are hundreds of ICOs running around, your job now shouldn’t be to impress people with something that they already know, but with something that blends originality with usability. Not just on the product itself, but on the way you are communicating it. Unless you have connections and an appropriate budget (which will just delay other issues), you should focus more on the usability of your idea, then the originality of your advertising. Keep in mind that looking awesome isn’t the most important, but being memorable is.

ICOs in a nutshell.

Just a random writer.