Swoopahs NFTs, A Case Study: Lessons for brand NFT collections
Key decisions for brand NFT collections
Let’s talk about a very specific species of sky fairies that love to fly and help humans when they’re in need of inspiration. Meet the Swoopahs.
As more brands look closely at experimenting with NFTs, I think it’s helpful to walk through that process of creation with real examples.
I’ve created art my whole life. Poetry, sculpture, painting, typography, websites, advertising. But, creating a collection of generative NFTs stands apart as a unique artistic and branding endeavor.
Next week I’m launching the Swoopahs NFT collection. In today’s post, I’ll explore how that collection came together and a few lessons for brands looking at NFT projects.
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Meet The Swoopahs
I did the illustration work and lead the project, but it’s been a community-driven NFT collection (trend alert, we will see more of these). The JUMP Community has helped define the characters, name, art direction, and half the various collection traits.
There are 555 Swoopahs. A quite rare breed.
Anyone will be able to mint, but it's especially relevant for marketers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, as the inspirational force behind the collection.
I’ve been working on the collection art since May of this year in my spare time. And we’ve ramped up the community involvement and feedback over the last few weeks.
With Swoopahs as our lens, let’s review some of the key decisions a brand has to make when creating an NFT collection.
1. The Name
We decided on the name last, which in hindsight was the right decision. My early working title was “Gliders” because the sky-born characters look like kites or sails.
The JUMP community helped come up with dozens of name ideas. Some serious, some silly, but all centered around the theme of flight.
@NicoleDalonzo helped create the matrix we used for deciding on a final collection name. Our requirements were:
Does it relate to flight or the sky?
Is it unique enough to be brandable?
Is it light and fun, like the collection art?
Does it avoid excluding anyone or any negative impressions?
Swoopahs checked the yes box for all of those key questions. Shout out to @metaXmoda for landing on the fun spelling solution.
2. Artistic Direction
How the hell do you create NFT characters for a marketing community?
Luckily, @jeffkauffmanjr created JUMP with a theme: SKYDIVING. "Jumping" into web3.
JUMP has a clear brand, visual ID, and color palette that helped provide some building blocks. Hat tip to the talented @glycemag who designed the JUMP brand iconography.
Besides black and white, there are essentially two colors in the collection, pink and blue. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to achieve the level of variety needed for a PFP collection with that palette, but it actually worked out quite well.
The Swoopahs’ art very literally reflects the visual brand. There are dozens of visual directions brands can go with NFT art and none are inherently right or wrong. You can lean more into an abstract character, something tied more to product, to ethos, etc.
The bold illustrative style and color palette for Swoopahs are intentionally minimal. It’s my homage to logo and typography design.
NFTs Should Be Iconic
A key here is to keep your art direction iconic. Especially with a PFP. This can mean the character is unique, the color palette, the illustrative style, or the overall combination. Contrast is important. Some element of the art (or many elements) should stand out as easily recognizable and unique.
3. Community Involvement
I’ll be the first one to tell you that art dictated by a committee is rarely a good idea. You need talented team or tastemaker leading the art direction.
But there are many opportunities to include a community when building an NFT collection that makes a valuable impact.
For Swoopahs I got constant feedback from community members through a dedicated thread in the JUMP Discord and several live calls for feedback or brainstorming.
Communities are good at brainstorming. They’re a great resource for coming up with a long list of ideas. This helped us find the Swoopahs’ name. It also helped us add dozens of visual traits to the collection, from clothing/outfit ideas to the “joy” icons each Swoopah sports.
The community also helped identify traits that we’re working as well, so we cut several too. Community members also helped refine art, story, and potential future utility.
More brand projects, web3 or otherwise, need community involvement. There’s a ton of upside and potential here.
In addition to the other folks I’ve tagged in this post already, shoutout to Jumpers who shared great feedback and helped create Swoopahs: @MatthewFoxAF, @imtalljonathan, @missjenny, @ShreyasGavit11, @K41R0N, @chris21martin, @RebeccaOrlov and more I’m definitely forgetting (sorry!).
As a PFP collection, traits are the various illustrative layers of the art that randomly combine to form each unique character.
Swoopahs have 80+ traits within 7 trait categories:
Joy (Floating Icon) - see image above
Three of the seven trait categories are targeted purely at expression: Threads, Extras, and Joy. Together, these categories help create multiple points of meaning for each NFT. Specific elements or combinations in the art that owners can point to and connect with.
We leaned into symbols that represented flight (parachutes, bomber jackets, jumpsuits, spacesuits) and web3 (Ethereum, GM GM, Seed Club, Nouns glasses).
Cultural touchpoints were also important, especially for a community of creatives. We made sure to include traits that reference music, art, and games.
NFTs Should Be Expressive
Even if your brand NFT collection is not a PFP it should still express key elements of the community, brand, or project. This is still art, and the more a community member can identify with the art, the better.
Get Your Swoopah
Mint your Swoopah here.
I’ll continue to share more learnings from the Swoopahs project here. Including how we’re thinking about utility and what future benefits can look like for a community-driven project.
Shoutout to my Swoopah for helping me find the inspiration and creativity needed for writing more content and working on fun projects like this.