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Distractive is now serving as a core marketing contributor to Polkadot, as you already know. Our incredibly small team has been hunkered down working so hard we almost forget to write about the insane progress we have made so far behind the scenes. So what have we been up to? Tons.

What’s Happened So Far

Though we spent months of time in preparation, February 1st marked the official kick-off for Distractive’s work on Polkadot and the beginning of our ramp-up as a team. The Parity team has graciously shared a ton of their materials and research to get us started since, while Distractive is looking to shake things up, we have no desire to waste time by reinventing the wheel. We’re still working on getting access to a few things, but we’re off to the races and starting to execute on many of our lofty plans.

Taking on this massive initiative meant Distractive got to hiring ASAP. In the past month we’ve nearly tripled the team size, from 6 to 16. We still have open roles across product marketing, content, and ecosystem marketing, but we’ve largely hit our hiring objectives much faster than planned. As new members get acquainted, we are focused on getting this show on the road.

(A Reminder) What’s Distractive’s Approach?

As we progress through this changing of the guard, what can community members expect to see change? Here are a couple general notes on the way we’re approaching this engagement:

“School of Fish” Leadership

We’re not here to be gatekeepers. Our goal is to serve as the “glue” for the ecosystem and help paint the direction for where we would like to see Polkadot go (the direction we should “swim” in, if you will). We are a resource. Our goal is to collaborate with as many Polkadot contributors as is reasonably possible.

Broad, Thin Layer of Support

Distractive provides a variety of marketing services in support of Polkadot, spanning content, PR, social media, digital advertising, website creation, design, events, and more. BUT we’re an intentionally small team. Our ideal is to serve as a coordination layer that allows additional teams with domain expertise in particular disciplines to also contribute. We do not want or need to serve as a monolithic marketing resource. There’s plenty of room for additional marketing resources to cycle in.

Broadening Our Ecosystem

Let’s move away from the rigidity with which we’ve approached our definition of who’s “in” the Polkadot ecosystem. We plan to work with ALL teams with Polkadot deployments and integrations: parachains of course, but also wallets, infrastructure, dapp teams, technology leveraging the Polkadot SDK, teams with multi-chain deployments (many of which are very cool)! The more we take credit for all the use cases that Polkadot unlocks, the more the power of this technology will become visible to everyone in our industry.

De-Corporatizing Polkadot’s Brand

No one has the energy for a rebrand, and that’s not our intention. Distractive’s goal is to return Polkadot to its punky, can’t-keep-us-down, nonconformist roots… but slightly evolved and with a layer of maturity that doesn’t discourage traditional businesses from working with us. We’ve taken the first step in this direction with the Polkadot booth at ETHDenver, but there’s much more to come!

Simplifying the Polkadot Message

The #1 thing we hear from the uninitiated is that “I have no idea what Polkadot is, but people who are really smart are into it so there must be something there.” Let’s change that. Communicating the value of technology doesn’t have to be an exercise in watering it down. We’re working on a proposal to shift the way we communicate about Polkadot that can help break down the accessibility barriers that have barred many people from falling down our pink-shaded rabbit hole.

Great Ideas Come From Many Places

We are excited and energized by the initiatives that are being funded by the Web3 Foundation and the community. Where possible (given that we do have limited resources), we are happy to support these initiatives and help set the standard for measurement and reporting. If you are dependent upon Distractive to deliver a proposal you’re putting through OpenGov, please DO contact us first so we can ensure we have the resources to support!

What’s On Our Plate RN/In the Works

Reinventing at ETHDenver

Before the Decentralized Futures grant was finalized, it became clear that no marketing team was in place to support a Polkadot booth at ETHDenver. As many OGs know, ETHDenver is a collaborative haven for many of the best builders in crypto, within and outside of Ethereum. So last December, Distractive submitted a proposal to the Community Events Bounty that covered a booth (and all the effort needed to support that) and a mini summit to showcase the Polkadot ecosystem’s talents.

Once the bounty was confirmed, we moved quickly to secure the necessary sponsorships, kick off logistics, and finalize the directions for print materials. Our most urgent order of business was to design the brand-new Polkadot booth for ETHDenver (which we whipped up in only a couple of days!!!) with a fresh feel, recruit speakers for the mini summit, and find contributors to help staff the booth and educate folks on everything Polkadot.

The result? ETHDenver became Polkadot’s playground, showcasing its evolution and inviting developers and users to explore new tools and opportunities. Presence at this event is a strategic move to enhance Polkadot’s visibility and affirm its place in the blockchain realm. Polkadot’s booth, a hub of collaboration and innovation, alongside talks from Web3 Foundation figures, highlighted the community’s strength.

From its prime location immediately visible from the entrance, the Polkadot booth housed 23 demo teams from the ecosystem over four days and collected hundreds of leads. More than 800 new Nova wallets were created to claim our POAP alone! We even scored the hero image in the CoinDesk coverage (even they seemed a bit surprised).

The Polkadot booth at ETHDenver 2024, a hub of ecosystem collaboration and innovation, showcasing Polkadot's evolution
Ecosystem teams knew what they wanted to share and we made it happen with a mini summit during Buidl week — a comprehensive 4-hour exploration of the Polkadot ecosystem, featuring engaging tech talks, interactive demos, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Speakers from notable projects like Kilt, Phala, SubQuery, Web3 Foundation, and others covered topics ranging from digital identity and smart contracts to multi-chain data indexing and decentralized lending. The recorded event highlighted the community’s collaborative spirit and gave each team a valuable piece of content to leverage in their own marketing efforts going forward.

Distractive worked with PMEI, Nova Wallet, KodaDot, and Exiled Racers, to drive wallet sign-ups and transactions on the Polkadot network with a seamless onboarding experience to demonstrate the power of Polkadot — all leading up to the official ETHDenver closing party.

Yeah, you heard that right, the OFFICIAL closing party of this massive Ethereum event planned by Spencer at {bash} and hosted by Polkadot (also funded by the events bounty). How did it go? They had over 5,000 registrations and over 4,000 attendees. Besides a great time, the event generated over 2,500 Substrate wallet addresses. The team even convinced the ETHEREUM event organizers to send emails asking attendees to download POLKADOT wallets. That’s a win.

New Positioning & A Simplified Message

We’ve spent the last 4 weeks in a mad dash to rethink and better articulate Polkadot’s message. A good message is going to need to balance highly technical differentiators with concepts and benefits that captures the Polkadot ethos in a way that everyone can understand. It’s a tough needle to thread.

During the iterative process to improve messaging, we ran several internal workshops and held a few sessions with ecosystem teams to help ensure we got a good cross-section of perspectives. We’d like to incorporate core components of what Polkadot is including the SDK as well as the shared security/interoperability gained through the network itself… while honoring the mission-driven nature of Polkadot’s community and our ongoing pursuit of a better, more open, freer web.

We are currently fielding feedback from stakeholders and other cryptopians. We gathered qualitative and quantitative data on-the-ground at ETHDenver. Look for opps to give your two cents soon.

Following this exercise, community members will soon have access to an asset library of marketing content they can use for campaigns, ads, events, and content.

Branding and Website Overhaul

We’re in the midst of an exciting transformation of the way we represent Polkadot, intentionally loosening up the brand and ideally returning to our crypto punk roots.

This strategic reimagining of the Polkadot identity will be coupled with a new website (yes! finally!). We’re aiming to secure a design and development partner, funding, and kick off the development process within the next couple of weeks. That’s a tall order but we’ve already started working on a number of items to help inform this project, including an information architecture plan (which will help us create a sitemap) and some content and blog plans for the new-and-improved website. We’re moving everything to a CMS to hopefully simplify the editing functionality and allow us to better support campaigns as needed.

Upcoming Campaigns: Let’s Get Loud

Who is included in the Polkadot ecosystem? With so many ways to connect to Polkadot, we want to include them ALL. We’ll soon be kicking off a series of campaigns to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of the projects building on Polkadot (including everyone using the SDK)!

To kick things off, one of the projects we’ve proposed is a Chain Reactions series leveraging the ongoing narratives in crypto to explore what Polkadot and its ecosystem has to offer. It engages crypto natives and broader audiences through educational videos, deep-dive threads, and infographics over a structured 1-month period for each theme. Teams across the ecosystem are working together on this content including The Kusamarian, Alpha Airdrop, and Polka Insider to produce digestible content to make complex topics accessible and engaging for the audience.

We’ll be following this with a spotlight series that leverages the footage captured by the Key Pictures team at ETHDenver and Sub0 to showcase the contributions of our valuable, venerable community leaders. We want to shift sentiment around Polkadot by highlighting the energy we see in this space every day. We’ll also be launching an organic media campaign focused on Decentralized Futures and the many, many folks across the ecosystem who are championing initiatives that improve the visibility of Polkadot.

If you’re keeping up with Polkadot Governance (OpenGov), you know that many marketing proposals on the roster demonstrate energy and excitement around Polkadot! Distractive is taking notes, and preparing to launch a series of campaigns shortly. Look for a proposal to support Q2 campaigns and marketing initiatives in the next 1-2 weeks.

Resource Center

Pragmatically, we’re launching a resource center that will provide guidance for community members who are struggling to keep up with all the changes in this space! Who do you contact for PR support? How do I host an event in my region? Those are exactly the kinds of questions we’re hoping to address.

The first version of the Polkadot Resource Center will be published shortly. As we work on key initiatives, we hope to grow this to include brand assets and designs, messaging and sample ad copy, an ecosystem directory, valuable co-marketing resources, and an array of links covering many narratives and topics of interest. Our goal is to make this library of content accessible to many kinds of creators in the ecosystem.

Coming Up

Crypto never sleeps and neither do we —-We are only scratching the surface of our capabilities.

We have team members working on events, campaigns, content strategy, design, digital marketing, and social media. Expect a consistent cadence of updates in the future: we’re aiming for at least monthly community updates in addition to our commitments on behalf of Polkadot. Also, please follow Distractive on X/Twitter or hit us up on Telegram with any questions.

What to expect in March:

  • Resource Center
  • Messaging Guidelines
  • OpenGov funding request for Consensus booth
  • OpenGov funding request for Q2 campaigns highlighting the depth of Polkadot’s usage
  • Go-to-Market Plans and recommendations for how to adhere to these plans
  • Progress against a website re-launch