A Study on Building a Brand Universe: The Bored Ape Yacht Club
May 6, 2022
How does an NFT brand go from relatively unknown to setting a record-breaking $3.59 million dollar sale with a who’s-who of celebrity endorsements? What can we learn from the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) story that can help our own brands moving forward? Here are just a few of the revolutionary techniques the BAYC creators used to create momentum and maintain audience interest over time, while simultaneously becoming the most successful NFT project of all time.
The digital, immaterial existence of NFTs is both a blessing and a challenge. From an outsider perspective, It gives little context and ‘real world value’ to your products being a purely digital asset, but it also gives the creator free reign to write the narrative themselves. From day one, BAYC set the number of available NFTs to 10 000. This finite number of available NFTs created a permanent cap on supply, increasing the overall rarity. When their initial community outreach began, they used brand-specific language for users to employ. ‘Apeing-in’, for example, which refers to users who got in early before momentum picked up, both gives users a language tool and enhances the ‘fear of missing out’ sentiment.
Once users purchased a BAYC NFT, many of them started creating Twitter accounts based on the characters. This included full names, backstories, and consistent posting that matched the tone of the fictional character. A masterclass in inbound marketing methodologies, this gave the would-be purchaser more confidence that the item had both dependable resale value and could earn them online recognition and fandom.
Since their initial success, the creators of BAYC have kept followers coming back by consistently updating and building on their lore and the “Bored Ape Universe”. BAYC NFT owners can now adopt Bored Ape Kennel club NFT dogs that mimic the traits of their original Apes, or even purchase digital vials of mutant serum to create a new mutated version of their NFT with considerable additional resale value.
Outside of their online community building, BAYC has held international meetups in Hong Kong and New York City, thrown Yacht parties, merchandise pop-ups, and are developing their own mobile game. The BAYC has transcended beyond simply a novel way to connect with an online community. With many prominent figures becoming members of the BAYC, like Justin Beiber, Post Malone, and Mark Cuban, owning a BAYC NFT can grant one networking access to a variety of high-flying individuals.
What We Can Learn
1. Create Branded Language
Provide users with coded language terms to both give them a shared dialogue and enhance the sense of community and identity your community offers. Ideally, these terms work to your benefit by building up a sense of momentum that pushes users to get in early. Those who “Ape’d in” early reaped the benefits of their investment, making hundreds of thousands of dollars on their initial small purchase amount.
2. Build A World
BAYC doesn’t just have a visual aesthetic. They have a language of coded terms, they have a consistent soundtrack of lofi hip-hop, a roster of interactable characters, and a backstory that positions their brand. By building a world around the art, you’re providing more and more inferred meaning that legitimizes the product and gives it the longevity to exist outside of its own medium. Not to mention, it makes the overall product experience far more stimulating!
3. Offer Levels of Ownership
BAYC understands that the vast majority of its audience will never own a BAYC NFT. In a brilliant move that keeps users invested while not diminishing the value of artificial scarcity, they diversified their brand to include streetwear, event planning, and social media influencing. This way users can own and experience the brand firsthand without having to own the original product, and further mythologizes the original 10 000 that they started with.
These are just a few of the techniques BAYC used to, in part, push NFTs as a lifestyle brand into the mainstream. Beyond this, they’ve recently released Apecoin as their own form of cryptocurrency for the BAYC community, further insulating their community and products.
A recent pitch deck from the team at BAYC revealed they made a 95% profit margin. If their staggering cultural relevance wasn’t enough, they also shattered their revenue goals, trading over $1.4 billion (yes, billion with a “B”).