Title: Brand Clarity Between DAO and HQ
Authors: links🏴(BanklessDAO), RSA (BanklessHQ), Kaitlyn Smith (BanklessHQ)
Editors: Icedcool:black_flag:, trewkat, HiroKennellyᵍᵐ:black_flag:, jengajojo:black_flag:, NF Thinker , Rowan, David Hoffman
Squad: links🏴, Icedcool🏴, Kaitlyn Smith
Date: Dec 22, 2023
David and myself (RSA) at BanklessHQ are reaching out with a proposal built in collaboration with key leaders of BanklessDAO aimed at clarifying any brand confusion that exists between BanklessHQ and BanklessDAO.
- This is a high-level proposal to chart a path to brand clarity. Additional details will have to be ironed out after this high-level path gains consensus.
- We propose the following steps:
- Step 1: Redefine DAO/HQ purposes for clarity
- Step 2: Create a permissioned system for brand usage
- Step 3: Create a DAO legal entity to hold intellectual property
- Step 4: Create some simple rules for Bankless projects to help promote brand clarity
We (David and Ryan) proposed BanklessDAO in 2021 as an experiment in growing a decentralized organization that would run in parallel to the centralized media company that spawned the original bankless movement.
Since the inception of BanklessDAO, myself, David, and BanklessHQ have not been actively involved in the DAO, and have remained observing from afar with pride for all its excellent work.
As knowledge and awareness of the inception of BanklessDAO fade into memory, it is being replaced by brand confusion and is causing problems for both HQ and the DAO. These problems pose lingering risks.
The experiment of the headless brand around Bankless has been met with friction and confusion, due to the ‘head’ of BanklessHQ remaining in place. As BanklessHQ, BanklessDAO, and crypto at large increase in their size, scope, and surface area, the problems of a headless-brand-with-a-head are increasing in scope.
On Nov 20, 2023, DAOStewards (a BanklessDAO project) submitted a proposal on the Arbitrum Forum for an Education and Onboarding Campaign involving over a dozen DAO groups and over 100 contributors. This proposal represented itself as “BanklessDAO”.
Later that week, the proposal received negative backlash on Twitter, largely directed at BanklessHQ, despite the fact that the proposal was submitted by BanklessDAO (not BanklessHQ). Crypto Twitter took issue with the proposal because it sought 1.8M ARB from Arbitrum, and it became clear that the relationship between BanklessHQ and BanklessDAO was confusing to many.
Following the backlash on crypto Twitter I posted intentions on Discord to:
- submit a governance proposal to change the BanklessDAO name
- create a permissioned way to use the Bankless brand
Both BanklessHQ and members of BanklessDAO recognize the need for brand clarity. Shortly after making HQ’s intentions clear, we (HQ) met with @Icedcool and several other DAO contributors to discuss a path forward. This proposal seeks to chart that path with DAO consensus.
This proposal is high-level by design. It is meant to raise specific ideas for discussion, with implementation details to be finalized later by DAO contributors.
This proposal was written with the following opinions in mind:
- The current brand confusion between HQ and the DAO is unsustainable.
- The bankless movement is better served with HQ and the DAO working in concert.
- BanklessDAO needs reliable access to the Bankless brand to pursue the mission.
- A DAO legal entity could clarify boundaries and strengthen the relationship with HQ.
- An ownerless Foundation could be an appropriate legal entity for BanklessDAO.
- For the bankless movement to credibly grow, brand usage must be permissioned and transparent, AND entities using the brand must be responsible for educating their audiences on the movement itself.
It’s not surprising that people are confused by the relationship between BanklessHQ and BanklessDAO. In a space where most large brands have multiple entities (i.e. Uniswap Labs, Uniswap Foundation), those multiple entities usually have strong, distinct purposes and missions.
BanklessDAO’s current mission (“We will help the world go bankless by creating user-friendly onramps for people to discover decentralized financial technologies through education, media, and culture.”) is almost indistinguishable from BanklessHQ’s mission.
Defining an organization’s purpose is no small task; it will require discussion and consensus. Here are some examples of how we can create distinct purpose statements:
Distinction by profit-generation status (i.e. both orgs are meant to onboard people to web3):
- BanklessHQ: For profit
- BanklessDAO: Not-for-profit
Distinction by output (examples):
- BanklessHQ: To onboard people to web3 through podcasts, written content and tools.
- BanklessDAO: To spread bankless values while incubating people and projects.
- No (I’ll comment below)
Unlike other brand proliferation experiments which are relatively open-ended (i.e. Nouns), the bankless brand has associated values and opinions. As a result, it doesn’t make sense for permissionless use of the Bankless/BanklessDAO brand, because if that usage is against our values it undermines the entire movement.
Note that we are talking about two related and distinct brands here: Bankless and BanklessDAO.
- The Bankless brand is owned by BanklessHQ via trademark
- The BanklessDAO brand would be “owned” by the legal entity created in the step below
With a legal entity (below), we can create distinct permissioning systems for both brands which have the following characteristics:
- Transparent (On-chain using EAS or another similar technology).
- Authoritative (have a credible public-facing website where people can check official brand delegates).
- Governed by a community-elected multisig.
- Veto right for the founders
A system like this would enable:
- The DAO to have a distinct brand (BanklessDAO) which it can freely delegate through the permissioning system
- HQ to give permissioned use of Bankless brand to regional or language-based groups (e.g. Bankless Africa, Bankless Japan) and certain projects/groups that extend the bankless mission without materially impacting brand clarity
- Anyone to quickly see which groups have permission to use the brand
- HQ/DAO to revoke permission to use Bankless/BanklessDAO brands, if needed
Any existing projects using the “Bankless” brand which materially affect brand clarity (i.e. Bankless Card, Bankless Consulting, Bankless Academy) will have to either get explicit BanklessHQ permission to use the brand, or transition to “BanklessDAO” branding (or any other branding). These projects will be identified and contacted by HQ and a grace period will be allowed to transition branding. The status of of all identified projects using Bankless or BanklessDAO branding can be found here (WIP - please comment if we missed your project). This registry will be used during the initial stages of the permissioning system.
In this model, we’d propose Bankless regional/language-based chapters would be default approved to retain usage of the Bankless name and branding, so long as the term “Bankless” is followed or preceded by the relevant country/language (i.e. “Bankless Brazil”). We intend to provide chapters wide brand use license to monetize their translation and country-specific content under the Bankless brand if they so choose. Non-media-related products or services for Regional Chapter will require additional approval from HQ.
Assuming the DAO chooses to participate, it can assist with the approval process for Regional Chapters. To this end, BanklessHQ and the DAO will maintain a public registry of approved Bankless Chapters. The idea is for the Grants Committee of the DAO and HQ to retain the right to grant and revoke access to the Bankless brand for regional chapters. Revokes would be reserved for rare cases of brand misuse or misalignment with bankless values.
This list will be reviewed in Q4 of each year for approval in the following calendar year to ensure 1) alignment of intent 2) up-to-date contact information. Any new chapters that are created outside of the approval period will be assessed by the Grants Committee and HQ on a case by case basis.
Ultimately the goal is to ensure that the brand usage is following bankless values, including transparency and collective consensus. An on-chain system with social consensus mechanisms fits our values nicely.
- No (I’ll comment why below)
BanklessDAO is a digital-only community, while BanklessHQ (aka Bankless LLC) is a legally-recognized organization. As such, BanklessDAO has no defensible access to the brand, no way to hold or protect Intellectual Property (IP), and no legal way to interact with BanklessHQ, which means we are building on a shaky foundation.
To solve these problems, leaders within the DAO have identified the need for a legal entity. There are many different kinds the DAO could choose from. This proposal suggests a structure similar to Bankless Card’s structure: a Panama-based Foundation. This structure has the following benefits:
- Foundations are “ownerless”, and meant to serve the interests of their members (not owners).
- Have defined roles that map well to on-chain equivalents (i.e. Foundation Directors are Vault Multisigners, Members are DAO members, etc).
- We can write bylaws to ensure on-chain actions are binding in the fiat realm
- i.e. Multisigners must cede control of Foundation when voted out
- i.e. changing membership criteria
- Foundation Founders can be given veto rights on the brand
- Costs around 1/10 the cost to create and maintain versus a Cayman Foundation.
- Yes, I think we should create a Panama Foundation.
- Yes, but I think we should explore other legal options.
- No (I’ll tell you why in the comments).
The steps above will make this step enforceable, but we can start clarifying the Bankless brand IMMEDIATELY by providing guidance to projects using the name.
The theme of authority paired with responsibility has been used in many of our governance discussions, and is pertinent here. Teams who have the right to use the Bankless or BanklessDAO brand have some responsibility to steward it.
Initial Bankless brand guidelines (ideally to be implemented in Q1 2024):
- DAO ensure it and its associated entities clearly display the DAO suffix along with distinct branding (i.e. BanklessDAO Global Events)
- Bankless B logo be reserved for HQ to avoid brand confusion.
- Social groups including regional and language based subentities and events-based organizations (BanklessDAO Global Events) may use the Bankless logo and branding in certain instances as cleared by HQ (i.e. displaying Bankless flags at events) but must make clear the events are hosted by BanklessDAO (or the BanklessDAO subentity).
- Any non-regional or language based subentities that have received approval to use the “Bankless” name without the “DAO” suffix will require unique branding (including logos, colors, and fonts) if not already in place (i.e. Bankless Academy and Bankless Consulting).
Additional responsibilities could include things like (among others):
- (example) Every team using the Bankless brand must have an “About Bankless” section on their website which talks about the movement and links to bankless.community
- For this to work, bankless.community must have a clear, prominent article which explains bankless nation, structures, and limits
- (example) Every team using the Bankless brand must have an “About Bankless” section in any grant request or proposals they submit
- There are 13 projects using the Bankless name in RetroPGF3 - each one of these would have an “About Bankless” section
- No (I’ll comment below)
To be determined by project teams implementing each step above. This should result in additional proposals/temp checks/bDIPs.
At this stage, our biggest metric is DAO sentiment (poll below).
1 = Not at all
5 = Fully
- Get BanklessHQ buy-in
- Get BanklessDAO buy-in
- Follow the steps listed above, creating appropriate temp checks/proposals/bDIPs as needed
Onboard 1B people to bankless nation