Brand Refresh: Choose your Path

NEAR has always been about the Open Web. With this rebrand, we will be shouting it from the rooftops. “Open the web. Empower the world!” The whole world? Yes, the open web is for everyone. NEAR is for everyone. But, how do you design an experience for everyone?

Our answer: start simple, and expand from there.

When I joined NEAR back in 2018, we started with a focus on developers. We built the brand, identity, messaging, and visual aesthetic to engage developers.

As NEAR has grown, the audience has grown. NEAR’s foundation will always be built by developers, but the open web is a world where everyone has a role to play. With this re-brand, we are expanding our focus in hopes to create a smoother onboarding experience for founders, creators, and community members as well as developers.

We began with a process to better understand the needs, FUD, and natural progression of these different user groups. We pulled together various leaders from the community, ecosystem, and core team with first-hand knowledge to create a working group. We white-boarded empathy maps, user workflows, and more to design a smooth onboarding process.

From there, we developed a content and experience flow that would give everyone a clear overview of NEAR while allowing them the opportunity to choose a path that fits their unique use case.

Of course, it gets much easier on the eyes…

Along with uniquely relevant information, each path features a unique view of the NEARverse.

The founder path includes:

  • The unique value of NEAR for creators and founders
  • Featured stories of founders
  • Relevant case studies
  • and links to explore more relevant info

A founder/creator sees much of the NEARverse as a vision of what could be. They can visualize what they might create as they plug into this infrastructure.

nv-founder

The developer path includes:

  • The unique value of NEAR for developers
  • Case studies of other developers building on NEAR
  • The ability to build an app in 5 min as well as explore code examples
  • And links to explore more relevant info

A developer will see the NEARverse as a work in progress. They will see scaffolding where they can collaborate with others to finish a project. They will also see the opportunities to build things from scratch by plugging into an active infrastructure.

nv-dev

The community path includes:

  • A summary of community stats
  • Value propositions
  • An intro to Guilds and how to join or start one
  • And links to explore more decentralized information

Choosing the community path will show you an active and vibrant ecosystem where you can immediately plugin and start participating.

nv-community

The world of crypto can be confusing, especially for those new to the space. We hope this introduction to the world of NEAR is less daunting and will serve those joining us on this open web adventure.

Please leave your feedback in the comments below. Don’t forget to check the open brand page for guidance on providing actionable feedback.

Other posts in this series:
01 - Visualizing the NEARverse

23 Likes

curious if there is section for overarching things that all the three audiences would care about:
none exhausting examples:

*Apps & services, and growing.

  • Digital assets under management.
  • total transactions
  • total users
  • three framework/environment (perhaps need a sexier name for this): Native, Aurora, Octopus

Cosmos’ new site has received a lot of praise recently https://cosmos.network/

4 Likes

Excellent way to share our brand journey. Thank you @jake. We can’t wait for the launch!
It would be wonderful to convert this post into a blog as well to keep for posterity!

2 Likes

Good points. Is this something we could consider adding once launched? I’m guessing we need some apis to display this date in real time

@amosbestcookie we are working on incorporating more of this data into the site. There will be an entire new Learn section that I will be covering in a subsequent post.

To start, have been looking through the “brand” tag here and old posts around Brand update and couldn’t find clearly articulated visual strategy. Can you please link to it? Would be good to have it at the start of the post.

Within that, I have questions around how we are measuring the improvements around people finding information they need and what are the user research groups saying.

Would be great to understand what is the order of information that various roles are looking for, what are the common parts and how it aligns with the landing page. This is specifically important on the landing page where everyone starts. (btw, the attached here image of experience flow doesn’t have enough resolution to read text)

Specifically, what are tag lines that people can reuse when sharing NEAR with friends and colleagues.

I also really curious where do important elements of the website go:

  • Email subscription
  • Ecosystem map – given ever expanding number of projects, guilds, companies, investors, accelerators and other organizations, it’s important to have a very easy way to understand the ecosystem at the glance as well as to be able to find specifics.
  • Roadmaps – we need a lot more communication around what is happening in the ecosystem and
  • Recent updates and upcoming events: things like upcoming Town Hall or recently launch projects. I seen something that looks similar on the last screenshot in Brand Refresh: Visualizing the NEARverse but would be great to understand how it all fits.
  • As @amosbestcookie asked, real time info is also important, where would that fit in the current design?

I know we have done some of it, but just to emphasis it’s important that we collect what are ways that existing developers, founders, guild leaders explain values of NEAR (because these are the ones that attracted them) and make sure we put them on website. As the Ecosystem grow, it will be important to keep collecting this info and update this information.

Also one of the concerns I’ve heard around load time for CGI. It’s critical that website loads super fast across the world. How do we make sure we achieve this?

We also are pretty clearly limited what we can have on the website and how fast we can update it as things change. I propose to move most of the Learn information into Wiki (Establishing NEAR Wiki) that both core team and community can contribute to.

All in all, having a staging version with content, UX and layout, even if not all the design is not ready would be great to collect more specific feedback.

3 Likes

Hi Jake,

Thank you for this. It is great to see someone thinking about and developing NEAR as a brand.

Brand refreshes can be worthwhile, dependent on how “stale” the previous brand is. This begs the question about whether a brand refresh is needed.

You have described the initial focus on developers and that is important, but you are right that all stakeholders need to be appropriately involved and new participants encouraged.

I would like to understand how confident you are about these distinct routes. To help me and others it may be useful to challenge what you mean by a founder, a developer and a community member. Your Build, Grow, Belong labels help a bit. I think developer is reasonably straightforward but interpretations of the others are going to be affected by peoples backgrounds. All of which brings me back to whether or not there is real value in having constrained routes especially given that some people may fall into more than one category.

1 Like

Hi @jake

Not sure if this is the right place to comment…or to address it to you…but just a response to the NearKats tweet/announcement this morning…and the telegram post linking it with this post

I liked the tweet…and selected number “2” because it felt the least cartoonish…but I am a bit confused by the NearKat strategy.

Appreciate it’s not my job…nor do i have any responsibility to question the process…but I really love the NEARVerse concept and branding above…as it shows NEAR to be aspirational & futuristic while reflecting the potential of the technology…conversely the NEARKats feel a bit meme-y…more Doge than ETH.

It’s hard to see how the two [Nearverse & NearKats] can be reconciled…but I guess that’s why I’m not running the marketing department !

Sure it is in good hands…but wanted to express my opinion while supporting one of the designs.

thnx

3 Likes

I’m not sure how these NEARKats relate to the updated brand strategy. They’re unsophisticated and frankly look like jokes. The current NEARKat aligns more closely with the new designs. A rendition of him enhanced to be more sophisticated should be presented as an option to vote on, with futuristic glasses and gear. The Future is NEAR and NEARKat has already arrived is the vision we should set. Maybe he has a goofy side, but it should be related to his current form.

8 Likes

No2 is best :raccoon: love the bandit :sunglasses:

I agree with @blaze in that the new NEARkats doesn’t feel like it fits with the new brand direction. It retains some of the aspects of the previous branding that made NEAR feel less serious, and at this point the NEARkat seems to be a bit forced. When I saw the designs today, none of them stood out to me as a great fit, and I think it is because the NEARkats themselves don’t fit anymore. I can see them living on as a sort of unofficial mascot kept alive by the community (memes live on!), but as part of the official NEAR branding they would be startlingly out of place on the new website based on the concepts above.

6 Likes

TBH, I like the current NEARkats the best. These new NEARkats look too cartoony and immature, which doesn’t represent the NEAR ecosystem IMO.

4 Likes

@royo @blaze @ToddTA Thank you for your concerns. The Nearkats are not a major part of this re-brand. If they are kept, they will not appear as primary elements on the website. We were trying to surface some of the work that has been done just to receive some feedback. Thank you for caring about the NEAR brand. We are excited about the newness that will be launching soon. As for the Nearkats, we will be continuing to see if/how they might be a part of it at a later time.

3 Likes

Hi @jake great to see this post and the comments.
I have recently joined the Marketing DAO team and wanted to share my thoughts…
Some good observations from @illia regarding the strategy. A fast loading landing page with clear links to key areas of the NEAR ecosystem will be of benefit to all.
Agree with @Mike-LunaNova on his comments re branding. IMO brand refreshing should be used sparingly… if at all. Much can be achieved
by refocusing from developers to other stakeholder groups.
I would also like to ask about localization of NEAR. With the growth of regional groups like NEAR Hispano will there be consideration given to translation of NEAR into other languages?

This all raises important questions on the direction and goals - keep up the good work!

2 Likes

Just feel “Open the web. Empower the world!” Is too big, while the 3 paths are too small. How NEAR brand itself in blockchain industry?

1 Like