After a year of failing cryptocurrency companies and fraud allegations, crypto firms are looking to rebrand. Cryptocurrency executives want to market their products in new ways, distance themselves from former colleagues, and avoid prison sentences. According to Todd Irwin, the Chief Strategy Officer at Fazer, a branding agency that has clients in the industry, crypto companies were gradually moving towards changing their narrative, even before the failure of FTX.

The previous soul-searching has done little to turn the industry’s fortunes around. US regulators have announced fines and other enforcement actions against several major crypto companies. In addition, the abrupt failures of two reliable banking partners, Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank, have made it more difficult to conduct basic business operations in the United States.

Changing the Narrative

This cleansing effort is familiar to the cryptocurrency industry, which has experienced repeated booms and busts over its short history. Early advocates of Bitcoin had to convince regulators that cryptocurrency was more than just a tool for drug dealers. A major crypto boom in 2017 was followed by a long period of law enforcement scrutiny, as promising startups turned out to be scams.

Rebranding and distancing themselves from the word “crypto” is one of the ways companies are changing the narrative. Some companies are capitalizing on the growing interest around artificial intelligence, with crypto schemes that feature convoluted AI tie-ins. Other firms are looking to replace the term “crypto,” arguing that the industry’s original nomenclature has become irredeemably tainted. But rebranding and distancing themselves from the term “crypto” has not solved the fundamental problem of demonstrating the practical value of cryptocurrency to a skeptical public.

Binance’s Rebranding Efforts

No crypto company is under more pressure than the giant exchange Binance, which is facing government investigations on several fronts, as well as rising concerns about its financial stability and lack of cooperation with regulators. This month, the exchange’s Chief Executive, Changpeng Zhao, unveiled Bicasso, a product that uses AI technology to make artwork in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFTs). In recent months, he and other industry figures have posted videos on social media seemingly designed to separate themselves from former crypto heroes like Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Rebranding may not solve the fundamental problem of demonstrating the practical value of cryptocurrency to a skeptical public. However, cryptocurrency firms are making efforts to change the narrative by replacing the word “crypto” with “blockchain” or “decentralization,” capitalizing on the growing interest around artificial intelligence, and distancing themselves from former colleagues and mentors who could face years in prison. However, the industry is still struggling to demonstrate the practical value of its technology to an increasingly skeptical public.