Ever since the first cryptocurrency was launched back in 2009 (Bitcoin – you may have heard of her), decentralised finance (DeFi) has faced many criticisms from the media, governments, and the general public alike.
However, through the storm, platforms like Binance have grown and have been keen to show the world that the negativity in crypto is misplaced, particularly as the crypto exchange faces a number of charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US.
“Despite challenges in the US, we’re seeing widespread growth across every region, particularly in UAE, where it’s part of their government strategy. Crypto and digital assets are a key line item in what they’re doing and their 2050 vision,” says Rachel Conlan, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Binance.
“There still is a lot of trust in the system, despite some of the media information. So, all we can do and I can do as a marketer is continue to focus on being authentic, continue to focus on being transparent, and really share the fact-based information about what our business is.”
Conlan spent 14 years in New York, including time spent at Havas and Creative Artists Agency, crediting the US for providing the “backbone” of her career. However, she’s clear that, as an international business, Binance will continue growing outside the US no matter the outcome of the SEC case.
“There’s so much more for us to achieve. I see my role, my team’s role, and our leadership’s role to be really ensuring that we continue to educate, continue to empower. That we focus on facts and data-driven information that’s rooted in authenticity, and that’s something you’ll see from the campaigns that we share,” she continues.
“I’m in this industry to help people understand how to invest responsibly. That’s why I joined.”
A two-headed marketing approach
In order to share information, and bring in new users, Binance’s marketing strategy focuses on two main pillars, combining big-name partnerships with smaller content creators.
The company currently works with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, The Weeknd, the Alpine Formula One team, and social media star Khaby Lame – all of whom, according to Conlan, share mutual values with Binance.
“For us, it’s not just about taking advantage of audience reach, it’s about there genuinely being a mutual understanding and a mutual respect for what are our corresponding industries. With Ronaldo, I know that he had turned down significant offers to work with him,” says Conlan.
“As one of the biggest sports icons in the world, that makes sense. I think he was attracted to Binance because of our trust with the community and our engagement with our fans. If you liken that to how he operates, it’s that cult of fan that he has as an icon. That’s really something that’s very important to us. There has to be shared values. There has to be the opportunity for authentic storytelling.”
Similarly, for the partnership with The Weeknd, Conlan points to Abel Tesfaye and his team as being very focused on pushing community engagement and innovation – which are traits that Binance also promotes.
“Being able to tell that story through the community, with the experimentation that we’re doing at physical events and through the virtual experiences that we’ve created, as well as with the philanthropic angle, that’s a great way for us to be able to bring that to life,” says Conlan.
Alongside these major partnerships, Binance works with a number of ‘Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs),’ which Conlan likes to think of as “mini media platforms”.
“It’s really interesting, because KOLs offer you the opportunity to tell your story in a more relevant and meaningful way to the audience that they connect with, because they know how to meet that user – or that potential user – where they are at the right time,” she explains.
“We also, as a business, benefit from the credibility and their unique ways of telling stories. Binance is a very particular brand, but we love working with creators to help us push that and understand how we make it more relevant for the larger audience.”
Conlan sees this “two-pronged approach” as being critical to the business going forward, with larger partnerships helping Binance to connect with new audiences and its KOL and community partnerships helping the business to deepen its relationships with existing audiences.
Educating the masses
A major focus for Binance across these pillars, and across the business as a whole, is educating people around crypto. And a big part of that focus is based on a desire to bring a more diverse range of people into the crypto space.
“I feel strongly that – in order to ensure that the products, services, and experiences are being designed for everyone – you need to have diverse people within the company. That’s something that’s really important to me, and something that Binance has embraced,” Conlan shares.
“In order to get those new audiences, education is key.”
The driving force behind Binance’s education push is its Binance Academy, which is a free platform. Since its launch in 2018, the Binance Academy has been used by 39 million people, and the platform has seen a 62% uptick in users over the past 12 months.
“Depending on your profile and what stage you are at in your journey, you can engage in that and go very deep into different concepts of crypto,” according to Conlan. “It’s extraordinary how it’s being embraced. Education is always the biggest barrier.
“I’ll talk about it from the perspective of a female. Only 5% of founders in this industry are female, which is extraordinary. That’s another negative stat we’re seeing for women. This is a tool that you can very easily access, that you can do at any time of the day, that allows you to deepen your education about this.”
Equally, Conlan acknowledges that not everybody has time to do Academy courses, and that’s why Binance will be utilising TikTok to share shorter educational bursts to users as well.
“I’m a mum, I work long hours, I try to balance a lot in my life. TikTok is a way that I find things. It’s a way I discover things and learn quickly about concepts, because I have to be finite in the amount of time I spend,” says Conlan. “It’s such a good way to do snackable content that engages you and piques your interest and wants you to go deeper into it.
“The beauty of crypto and the beauty of Binance is that it’s about empowering the individual to take control. It’s about you going on your own journey and being able to have that full transparency,” Conlan concludes.