If you’re looking for examples of powerful strategic narratives, here is one that is rapidly emerging for the art market: direct trading of digital art with NFTs.
When you see the Mona Lisa in Paris and take photos of it, you don’t own it. The same goes for digital art. It’s not because you make a copy of a jpeg that it’s yours. The difference is that because of its non-physical nature, ownership of a piece of digital art is a lot harder to prove.
That was until non-fungible tokens (NTFs) were invented.
A crash course on NFTs
Real quick, an NFT is a unique and verified set of information that represents ownership of a specific work of art. It’s very similar to a bitcoin because, just like cryptocurrency, it exists in a digital record inside something called a blockchain network.
What’s the big deal about that?
NFTs provide a revolutionary way to trade digital art, including images, animations, videos, music, etc. Let’s see how and why.
A story to back the NFT narrative.
Stories are different than narratives.
Stories back narratives. After I wrote about the origin of Nordstrom during the Gold Rush to illustrate this, Frank McClung, who is a reader just like you, emailed me back about a personal story related to NFTs.
His story backs the NFT narrative.
He let me share it with you:
“There is a “Gold Rush” narrative surrounding the trading of NFTs and digital art. Here’s a story: My 24-year-old Amazon warehouse hourly worker, college graduate son recently bought and sold an NFT and made $15K in 24 hours. That’s more than he makes in half a year of work at Amazon. The prospect that he can master this new “gold” and develop expertise in mining it has led him to cut back his hours at Amazon and spend more time researching and trading NFTs. The NFT narrative is that artists may no longer be called starving and the common man may now have access to and trade-ability in art beyond the control of elite gatekeepers like galleries and museums. This is causing all kinds of changes inside the person and soon the community. Thanks for giving me a framework for this phenom.”
A strategic narrative is about the community.
I find it fascinating how this story illustrates the opportunity that a new and powerful narrative can create for everyone.
A strategic narrative is not about you. It’s about everyone.
The common belief about business narratives is that they should primarily be about you, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the company, the organization. It implies that you are the main character. That’s a big myth and a trap that many business leaders fall into. In the case of the NFTs, we don’t even talk so much about who created them.
A true and strong narrative is about the entire community. With NTFs, Frank’s son is part of a change bigger than of all of us.
NFTs create a more direct connection between creators and their customers, and they change the rules about royalties and traditional intermediaries such as galleries and auction houses. Some would say that NFTs “disrupt” the traditional players.
Also, artists become more creative than ever, not only about their work but also about how they release it. Last March, the band Kings of Leon was the first band to release a new album as an NFT. The same month, a Jpeg file from artist Beepled sold for… $69 Million.
As the narrative grows, it benefits the artists, without whom the art market would not exist.
Like Frank, if you feel like you have a great example of a new strategic narrative, I would welcome the opportunity to hear about it.