The seven basic elements of the Bitcoin brand
People tend to reject new forms of money.
This makes perfect sense because the primary value of a monetary asset is that other people are already using it.
In this sense, any attempt to introduce a new form of money into the world has very little chance of success.
In modern world history, governments have had a monopoly over money creation initiatives. Imagine how everyone would react if a new financial fortune appeared. If this asset weren’t even backed by a nation-state, its chances of success would be even less.
How did Bitcoin grow so fast in just 10 years?
There are several answers to this question. Most of them emphasize Satoshi’s genius for combining different technologies in a very unorthodox way.
However, given my degree in history and my interest in anthropology, I want to focus on something that has nothing to do with the technical aspects of Bitcoin.
In this article, I’ll argue that one of the main reasons Bitcoin’s success is something that appeals to us as humans on a much deeper level: the original elements of its brand that, when combined, make it a belief system.
The idea that some brands are actually belief systems was brought up by Patrick Hanlon, and I first learned about it from his TED talk. For those who haven’t seen it, the following quotes from Primal Branding will help you understand the core offering:
“All belief systems have seven pieces of code that work together to make them believable. The more pieces, the more believable the belief system becomes. When products and services contain all seven pieces of code (the creation story, the creed, the icons, the rituals, the pagans or unbelievers, the holy words, and the guide) they become a significant part of our culture. “
“The seven parts of the original code together form a sustainable belief system that provides the inarticulate, immaterial emotional glue that attracts people and makes them feel like they belong to them. This sense of belonging manifests itself in evangelistic tribes, cults, members of political parties, product freaks, and enthusiasts. “
Now that we know what primal branding is all about, let’s examine how each of these elements is expressed in the Bitcoin brand.
Satoshi Nakamoto was the pseudonym used by the creator (or creators) of Bitcoin. Nobody knows their true identity, and we probably never will. Its anonymity and its sudden disappearance fascinate people and have attracted a lot of attention.
Satoshi envisioned a new type of currency network that had almost no chance of working. All previous attempts to achieve something similar had failed.
He sought help from a cryptography mailing list, which was one of the few places he could get help and be understood. Even there he was heavily criticized and incredulous.
One of the few supporters was Hal Finney, who died a few years later of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. For almost two years, Bitcoin was exchanged between curious users. These coins were often given away in “bitcoin faucets” and had no market value.
Such humble beginnings serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for Bitcoin enthusiasts.
Bitcoiners share the belief that each person can be their own bank and that no government or agency can influence the monetary policy of the Bitcoin network. For them, Bitcoin is the internet’s native money. It’s safe, limitless, neutral and censorship resistant.
Believers feel compelled to come together and share the good news of Bitcoin with their family and friends.
This teaching is deeply rooted in the cypherpunk ethos, which can be summarized in the following quote:
“The computer can be used as a tool to set people free and protect instead of controlling them.” – Hal Finney
The orange ₿, along with the physical Casascius coins, was often used as a symbol for this new internet money.
Bitcoiners celebrate special occasions through meetups and over the internet.
The first special day in the Bitcoin community is January 3rd, 2009, the day the Genesis Block was mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. This event marks the official birth of the Bitcoin blockchain.
The second special day is May 22nd, 2010, also known as Bitcoin Pizza Day. On that day, the first real purchase in Bitcoin was completed by Lazlo Hanyecz, who bought two Supreme pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin ($ 63.05 million on April 13, 2021).
However, the most important ritual in Bitcoin is the halving.
The issuance of new Bitcoin takes place according to a fixed schedule. These freshly minted coins are paid to miners. These are the computers that ensure that the blocks added to the blockchain are legitimate. To do this work, miners have to expend a lot of energy. To limit the total supply to 21 million units, the reward paid to the miners is halved every 4 years.
Users and investors from all over the world celebrate the halving. This voluntary victim respects the hard coded monetary policy of the system and continues to enforce protocol rules.
5) Holy Words
Unspent transaction output, blockchain, proof of work, private keys …
These are some of the strangest words that distinguish outsiders from those of the Bitcoin tribe. If you want to be part of this group, you need to learn what these complicated expressions mean.
Just don’t forget that they make sense in the context of Bitcoin and nowhere else.
Every hero needs a villain. For the bitcoin community, the bitcoin bears would be the first type of villain.
Peter Schiff, Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman are some of the most famous.
One of the favorite activities of bitcoin maximalists is fighting anyone who claims that bitcoin will eventually collapse. These hardcore bitcoiners often act like a mob on social media.
They even create websites entirely devoted to ridiculing the haters:
There is also a second type of villain, often viewed with more disdain than the bears: the traitors.
In search of influence, fame or money, they betray the majority and share the network with the help of their followers. This results in a hard fork, which is an incompatible branch of the system.
Some of these attempts are considered fraudulent. But some are simply the result of people having different views on what kind of problem Bitcoin is supposed to solve. Still, it’s safe to say that staying together and reaching consensus are core values of the Bitcoin ethos.
Satoshi could enjoy everything most of us seek in life: fame and money. He is responsible for creating the world’s first decentralized electronic currency system. This is a big deal.
However, he chose the path of self-sacrifice.
Instead of becoming world famous, he remained anonymous. Instead of becoming one of the 20 richest people in the world, he decided never to touch his bitcoin.
His pain made Bitcoin’s origins flawless. No other cryptocurrency can imitate this.
If we really want to understand Bitcoin, we shouldn’t see it as a pure technological transformation, but as a cultural phenomenon.
As Yuval Noah Harari states in the book “Sapiens”,
“We humans have this unique ability to mobilize tribal members for a common goal. Unlike other animals, we can do this with a larger number of individuals and in a flexible way. Belief in shared ideas makes this possible. The whole world around us is built on our collective belief in ethereal concepts such as “democracy”, “civil rights” and “government”. “
Likewise, any monetary system is supported by the collective trust of the people in it. This means that we are experiencing a major paradigm shift. For the first time in human history, people from all over the world are choosing to rely on a decentralized platform to store and transfer value.
In a completely spontaneous and leaderless process, Bitcoiners transformed the cold content of a technical white paper into a lively social movement. This is the secret sauce that made Bitcoin spread like fire.
The voicepaper is a collaborative video recording of the Bitcoiners whitepaper narrated by Bitcoiners. Each participant recites a passage from Satoshi’s document and respects what and who started it.
This project is primarily a celebration of the Bitcoin community, its strength and unity, and its wide variety of backgrounds, origins and aspirations. It is a statement that Bitcoin belongs to everyone and that the meaning of the motto “vires in numeris” is contextually as computational as it is human.
This is a guest post by Paulo Sacramento. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.