Blockchain technology continues to mature and evolve. And that means marketing and communication challenges are evolving and becoming more nuanced too.

Crypto versus traditional finance has more layers now.

It’s DeFi vs CeFi vs finance.

And there’s a unique personality for all of them.

Blockchain’s fintech culture clash boils down to three issues.

  1. Finance has a longstanding culture that can be both exclusive and at its worst, elitist, yet it’s a daily commodity
  2. Crypto and blockchain is effortlessly cool, fresh, and open to all – yet the tech and culture can make it exclusive in other ways
  3. For everyday people, who already find the nuances of finance difficult to grasp, this party is getting hella complicated

Cue the clash.

Finance wants to use blockchain as a tool to improve what’s already there. Crypto wants to revolutionise finance, and you have to admit it looks cool doing it.

Everyone wants a piece of the cake. And everyone thinks they have the best perspective with which to benefit what they care about. This is why there is such an amazing range of blockchain projects. 

It’s the ultimate battle of the generations. The way things have been versus the way things could be. Gen Z versus Baby Boomers, fintech edition. 

So what’s the blockchain community to do about it?

Marketing and communication has to:

  1. Communicate the unique angle and benefits of the project to the right people at the right times, in the right way. 
  2. Attract institutional users and investors, and help achieve regulatory approvals when necessary.
  3. Be transparent about the pros and cons of the DeFi or CeFi approach the project is using.
  4. Relate it all in a practical way to the end users, so that they can truly make an informed choice with their time and resources.

If you don’t do #1, you’ll alienate people and stagnate before you can start.

And if you don’t do #2 and #3 and #4, you’ll drown in FUD.

The trickiest part is that you have to achieve the above across generations, economic classes, and – perhaps trickiest of all – different senses of humour.

Finance: An Exclusive Commodity 

There are few industries with the prestige (and scandals) of finance. It has the power to make or break entire countries. 

As an established industry, finance also has an enormous amount of regulation. What you say, when you say it, how you say it, even how and where you show it. The very regulation around finance has had a huge impact on the words used in crypto. 

That finance-but-not-finance lingo for crypto created the first culture divide. 

It gamified finance, too. And to some traditionalists, that can seem too lighthearted. To others, it makes it accessible.

It’s like real life gaming DLC.



And a direct connection to things you really care about, with real value?

These things added a flair to decentralized finance that attracted a vibrant and bold audience. And a part of the crypto community are people who felt alienated by traditional finance. 

Suddenly, there’s an overlap where people from very different backgrounds, with very different perspectives, want similar things.

Better finance. Better security. Better opportunity.

For asset managers. For artists. For government finance. For mom and pop shops. 

Achieving harmony comes down to communication.

DeFi vs CeFi: A Marketing Sidenote

Marketing and communication is absolutely key at every stage – that’s worth repeating. In this area, CeFi and DeFi aren’t too dissimilar. But in other areas, some may even call CeFi vs DeFi a battlefield.

Centralised Finance is blockchain technology used in a familiar fashion. It might be known as CeFi now, but when exchanges started they were simply referred to as blockchain or crypto exchanges. 

It’s familiar and what some call a natural evolution of fintech. 

Can you think of another word that might be used for the blockchain or crypto space?


But now, Decentralised Finance (DeFi) is different to the previously “decentralised” crypto exchanges, which are now known as centralised. They were centralised before too, but CeFi vs Finance meant the language was less precise.

Confusing, right? At least for people trying to get to grips with crypto. That makes it a marketing and communication problem for new incoming users. Make sure you’re clear on what’s what and explain it to ALL your audiences.

How Marketing Fixes the Culture Clash

Finance already faces a hefty communication responsibility. Blockchain technology brings an additional layer of opportunity, yet adds to the complicated task of developing, funding, selling, securing, and – as we all know too well – regulating. 

Step one. Identify the types of people you’re trying to reach, and what their perspective is. What do they care about and what pain point do you solve for them?

Step two. Identity where those different types of people hang out. 

Step three. Speak to those people in their favourite places.

Step four. Set some ground rules, moderate your communities well, and foster a healthy culture of communication (at all levels). 

The detail and language you use needs to be personalised for the context: a white paper vs a pitch deck vs a website vs Twitter vs Telegram.

The Biggest Challenge We See

In summary, it’s safe to say that it can be confusing for blockchain projects in this space to know how to market themselves successfully. The hard part is simple. You’re creating something new, and new means change, and change is hard. 

When you have token holders that are your crypto audience, but your product is built for traditional financial institutions, you’re immediately faced with a dilemma. That dilemma is, how to effectively communicate with your crypto audience of token holders, whilst not putting off your potential customers in traditional financial institutions. And let’s be honest, they don’t appreciate the memes, GIFs and emojis quite as much. 

That’s where clearly defining a strategy makes a difference. Choosing to segment your audiences and selectively crafting your content & your messaging on each channel is imperative to the success of your blockchain project. 

If you’re running a DeFi project, and any of the above feels familiar to you, you should get in touch with me (Anna Simmonds) or Chris Bruno. We can jump on a discovery call to learn more about your project and what kind of support could benefit it the most. 

Anna Simmonds
Anna Simmonds

Anna, Chief Growth Officer, has spent over a decade in digital marketing and has been part of Social INK since 2017. She builds strategic campaigns focused on growth and community engagement for Social INK’s clients.