Bitcoin introduced the world to a new concept of decentralization of currency, authority and even branding. Bitcoin is inarguably the most successful decentralized brand ever created.
What is a Decentralized Brand?
A decentralized brand is a brand that lacks any central authority, that functions in the form of a network of different individuals, who by default collaborate to create and sustain their brand. A decentralized brand is usually created without prioritizing profits. For example, Linux, one of the most popular decentralized brands ever, is endorsed and managed by the open source community. This is rather different from “prosumption”, where both users and producers collaborate in the production and development of the value of the brand (e.g. eBay, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter).
A decentralized brand is usually based on a group of distributed users who have different goals and motivations, and operate without any form of central authority. The Tor network and Wikileaks are ideal examples of decentralized brands.
Bitcoin – An Ideal Decentralized Brand
Practically speaking, bitcoin is nothing more than a digital file that represents a form of digital cash. Along its rather short life, bitcoin was hindered by multiple crises; the MtGox collapse, the fall of the online drug market Silk Road, the block size debate, as well as its legislation problems, being banned in some countries. In my opinion, these problems helped bitcoin build its decentralized brand in a way or another throughout the past few years.
The MtGox scandal, the Silk Road incident and the block size debate; these were not merely a list of crises that the bitcoin ecosystem witnessed, but a group of incidents that challenged the future of the currency and questioned its existence on a massive global scale. The rise of bitcoin price has been always attractive for mainstream media, and helped in developing the public’s idea about bitcoin during and following these incidents.
On the other hand, bitcoin is backed up by a huge group of enthusiasts, investors and decentralization advocates who are proud of being referred to as bitcoin evangelists, backers, enthusiasts, boosters, proselytizers or fans. The block size debate which is currently threatening to split bitcoin’s blockchain into two blockchains, emphasizes proprieatry governeance problems in a seemingly humanitarian open source community with conflicts emerging between the libertarian and capitalist ideologies. Nevertheless, destabilizing incidents e.g. the collapse of Mt Gox and the shutdown of Silk Road, emphasize how a decentralized brand can survive even in the face of insecurity and trustlessness, along with media spreading myths. When decentralized brands are considered, the nature of information that is shared is of pivotal importance, and in this setting, social media can act as a stabilizing force.
By far, bitcoin is the most successful decentralized brand, thanks to a decentralized group of bitcoin enthusiasts, developers, traders, investors and fans, who took the value of bitcoin from almost nothing to more than $1400 today!