The cryptocurrency market, which was once considered inaccessible—or even suspect—is gradually finding its way into the mainstream of global commerce, thanks to consumer-friendly apps, celebrity endorsements, and viral trends. Cryptocurrencies are rapidly being integrated into traditional financial markets. In 2021 so far, venture capital firms have invested $17 billion in crypto projects, such as exchanges, hardware wallets, tax services, and loan platforms. And, of course, all of these deals require crypto-savvy lawyers and other advisors.

Additionally, many major investment firms and financial services companies are jumping on the crypto bandwagon, as they establish digital asset advisory services, accounting practices, and now even bitcoin-backed exchange-traded funds. It’s clear that B2B partnerships, investments, and professional services will continue to play a large role.

The intersection of cryptocurrency, financial services, and professional services poses a tremendous and multifaceted challenge for marketers. In many ways, bringing crypto into mainstream financial or professional services is a lot like a merger: as two dissimilar businesses come together, understanding, acceptance, and enthusiasm must be fostered among all stakeholders to achieve synergy.

At this inflection point, a strong brand can make or break a crypto strategy, serving as a unifying element that brings clarity and support among employees and clients.

Bringing Crypto Mainstream: How Branding Can Help

We’ve identified four imperatives for brands in driving crypto success:

1. Revisit your overall value proposition

Perhaps the most significant brand challenge in this environment is folding crypto into the larger corporate story without disrupting your long-standing brand reputation. How does crypto fit in? Does it fundamentally change the overall value proposition, or can it serve as a proof point for one or more key brand attributes—innovation, for example? How will crypto impact your brand’s personality? If you’ve created a brand based on reliability and trust, integrating crypto might require rethinking your brand personality.

2. Use storytelling to make crypto comprehensible

Blockchain and decentralized finance are difficult concepts to understand. B2B companies must engage in significant educational programs to convince employees, customers, investors, and partners that embracing crypto is beneficial to them. This places a heavy burden on corporate communicators. They must not only learn about a new technology and financial model, but also hone technical writing skills while still flexing their creative muscles. Marketers must find ingenious ways to make blockchain technology comprehensible: this may mean crystal-clear copy, infographics, video content, or even live events.

It is especially important to bring the human factor into crypto marketing: stories of customer benefits, scientific breakthroughs, and savvy insights will help reframe cryptocurrency as an exciting next step for financial services and other B2B industries.

3. Use brand to unite corporate cultures

There is still significant mutual distrust between many crypto entrepreneurs and traditional investors and financial executives. When these two groups come together as employees under one corporate umbrella, the opportunities distrust and even outright conflict are magnified. Communications professionals have their work cut out for them as they bridge the gap between these two worlds.

Here’s where traditional M&A branding best practices come in. A new, cohesive brand can serve as a rallying cry for all employees, offering them a shared purpose by showing how both “sides” —crypto and the traditional business—can support each other, and build success for everyone. Without a new brand, an “us vs. them” situation can evolve; this has been the death knell for many a merger, and it can spell doom for a crypto strategy as well.

4. Create brand partnerships

Forging brand partnership or cobranding opportunities are an excellent way for companies to gain knowledge, exposure, and credibility in a new space. Open channels of communication mean no one needs to reinvent the wheel—marketers can simply reach out to their counterpart at their partner for guidance. Both parties will benefit, not only from shared insights but also from introductions into new spaces and platforms.

A recent example of this strategy involves J.P. Morgan, BNY Mellon, and Accenture, who are board members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, a group working to make the Ethereum blockchain part of day-to-day business. This kind of partnership gives these traditional institutions some crypto bona fides, gives Ethereum legitimacy among traditional investors, and leads to better technical solutions for all parties.

These partnerships work best when they are not simply sponsorships but actual collaborations. Such relationships may start with working together on research or an event, but this could lead to busines referrals or even shared product development.

Get your brand ready for crypto

As crypto grabs headlines and attracts investor dollars, many traditional companies are rushing to cash in. To be successful, these moves must be supported by a brand strategy that integrates crypto with the legacy business and shows the transition benefits clients and employees alike.

Collaborating with a Brand Strategy Agency

Successful brands start with honest self-assessment — which may be hard to come by in a large company or an entrenched corporate culture. Enlisting the aid of an outside brand strategist can help, providing a clear-eyed window into the company’s strengths and weaknesses and offering agnostic, professional solutions.

But as in any relationship…