What are NFTs and why should designers pay attention?

Ric Turner



There’s a lot of buzz around non-fungible tokens (NFTs) right now after Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sold the world’s first tweet for $2.9 million in March. But what does this mean? Why are people so willing to pay for them? And how will NFTs change design? 

What is an NFT? 

There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of jargon to get your head around here. So, let’s start with some quick definitions.

  1. Crypto art – this just means digital art that is published directly onto blockchain technology.
  2. Blockchain – is a network or system of recording information that makes it incredibly difficult to change or hack. A very secure digital ledger.
  3. Ethereum – is a cryptocurrency, similar to bitcoin.

With those in mind, an NFT is a type of digital file that is used by crypto art and published straight onto a blockchain. NFTs are mainly used on Ethereum blockchain and aren’t interchangeable – they’re completely unique. So, in terms of art or design, it’s similar to traditional art collection. Only one person can own the original Mona Lisa, however copies that are of significant less value can be mass produced and sold in a gift shop.

The NFT hype was born in 2017 with CryptoKitties, a Canadian game that isn’t dissimilar to Tamagotchis (remember those?). Players can buy, collect, breed and sell virtual cats – cute. The price of these digital kittens was less cute, trading for as much as $140k!

And so the NFT craze began, and as digital creatives become more innovative, and technology advances – so has the interest in NFTs.

What are the benefits of NFTs to creatives?

Where creatives have previously struggled to regulate authenticity of their work, preventing duplications of digital art has been hard to stop. NFTs confirm ownership and add value to original design, whether its imagery, games or wearables.

Whereas ownership of art has historically come down to a tangible asset that could be sold at auction, the digital era has turned that on its head. NFT and blockchain take that original concept and move it online.

Any form of artist will understand the struggle of making good money for their creations – now, with work selling in the millions, digital creatives could be looking at a very different future.

How do brands use NFTs?

NFTs can be versatile in what they represent creatively. Brands have the opportunity to use them to represent pretty much any form of digital content, from files, to audio, video or imagery. This means they can easily be applied to any virtual concept – fashion, automotive, real estate, etc.

The digital landscape has made attracting new business and reaching new audiences more competitive than ever, so including NFTs into your marketing strategy could give you a great advantage.

NFTs are all about being creative, and marketing is the vehicle to brand storytelling, whether it’s promoting a new product or service. Finding new ways for consumers to interact with your brand and have a unique experience are the leverage NFTs bring.

NFT’s can help brands to:

  • Boost engagement
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Create unique customer experiences 
  • Add brand value
  • Drive conversions and revenue

Some big names are already leading the way on innovating with NFTs. Including Nike, who have patented, ‘CryptoKicks’ where the authenticity of trainers are checked by NFT. 

Rock band, Kings of Leon chose to leverage NFT as a way to keep their fanbase engaged by releasing their album, “When you see yourself’ in NFT form. They offered different token options that included access to exclusive audiovisual art and live show perks and made the NFT version exclusively available on YellowHeart. By only making this available for a fortnight and being the first band to try this, Kings of Leon made their mark in history and created a buzz around their brand by giving their fans something special and collectable.

What’s next for NFTs?

Like a lot of new technologies, they often get dismissed as a fad, or something only of interest to a niche audience. Facebook once provoked a similar response.

NFTs are still in their early stages, and creatives and brands are just starting to test the waters, but from what we have seen so far – there’s certainly an appetite from audiences. That’s usually a clear signal that the newest trend is here to stay.

Like any digital or consumer trends, its important to keep NFTs on your radar - who knows when it could transform your digital marketing strategy.

How creative is your brand’s current marketing activity?

Creativity can be the one of the most powerful tools in separating your brand from the crowd. We’re BBI, an award-winning integrated marketing agency with over a decade’s experience in helping brands tell their stories through campaigns that drive great results. Find out more about our creative services here or take a look at some of our work.

If you need help with injecting some creativity into your next campaign, contact us today – we’d love to help.