The Power of Simplicity: The Story of CryptoPunks

May 25, 2022


Hear us out: CryptoPunks are the vintage NFT. They aren’t the new shiny token that creates intrigue, they’re the classic, established brand that people immediately revere, a sort of digital rolex that instantly flashes prestige and clout to millions of “hodlers” and crypto enthusiasts around the world. 

CryptoPunks was launched in 2017 by Larve Labs, and later acquired by Yuga Labs. This may make the title ‘vintage NFT’ seem a little premature, but in the NFT and Crypto world trends move fast. Before NFTs were the cultural behemoth they are today, they existed as part of the insulated Ethereum community, far from the eyes and ears of the mainstream conversation. Interestingly enough, CryptoPunks didn’t start off with a roadmap or even a concrete strategy to build a community. Their rise lined up so perfectly with the rise of Ethereum that they became synonymous with the cryptocurrency through organic community building. There are, however, a few tricks they employed that would come to define the NFT formula we see repeated throughout some of the largest NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea, by the new projects of today.

The Power of Identity

Building an identity for individuals to associate with is one of the most important aspects of building a brand. We can start by looking at the CryptoPunks artwork alone. It’s pixelated and reminiscent of 90’s video game avatars, appealing to the perceived interests and nostalgia of the average early Ethereum enthusiast. It’s also widely customizable with 7 different traits and 87 unique attributes. More than just a piece of art, CryptoPunks work as more of an alias or extension of a user’s online identity. People define themselves by their interests and passions, and a CryptoPunk profile picture communicates a few immediate messages: 

  1. I was (most likely) an early adopter of Ethereum
  2. I was (most likely) an early adopter of NFTs
  3. I made considerable returns on my initially minuscule investments

For a community that relies on online communication, these pictures were both symbols of wealth and a way to connect with like-minded Ethereum enthusiasts. Additionally, it was a way to reinvest in the currency while having fun. 

It may seem redundant to point these traits out, given that they embody what all NFTs represent now, but it’s important to realize that CryptoPunks created this value model. They laid the groundwork for the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Habbo Avatars, and nearly every other successful NFT project. Even today with the increased saturation of the market, CryptoPunks maintain their value as a legacy NFT with historical and monetary significance.

What identity traits does your NFT communicate? What is your ideal client profile and where do they spend their time? These are the kinds of questions we seek to answer when we begin marketing our client’s NFTs. If you’re looking to be the next NFT success story, read more here and let's build a game plan.