Brand Clarity Between DAO and HQ

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 :black_flag:, 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:

  1. submit a governance proposal to change the BanklessDAO name
  2. 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.

Step 1: Redefine DAO/HQ purposes for clarity

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.

POLL: Do you believe we should redefine the BanklessDAO purpose to be distinct from BanklessHQ?

  • Yes
  • No (I’ll comment below)
0 voters

Step 2: Create a permissioned system for brand usage

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.

Regional Chapters can use Bankless Brand

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.

POLL: Do you think we should create a permissioned system for Bankless brand usage?

  • Yes
  • No (I’ll comment why below)
0 voters

Step 3: Create a legal entity to hold intellectual property

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.

POLL: Do you think we should create a legal entity for BanklessDAO?

  • 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).
0 voters

Step 4: Create some simple rules for Bankless projects to help promote brand clarity

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
    • For this to work, 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

POLL: Do you think we should make some rules for Bankless projects to follow when using the name?

  • Yes
  • No (I’ll comment below)
0 voters


To be determined by project teams implementing each step above. This should result in additional proposals/temp checks/bDIPs.

Success Metrics

At this stage, our biggest metric is DAO sentiment (poll below).

POLL: How likely are you to contribute to BanklessDAO in the future described above?

1 = Not at all
5 = Fully

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
0 voters

Next Steps

  1. Get BanklessHQ buy-in
  2. Get BanklessDAO buy-in
  3. Follow the steps listed above, creating appropriate temp checks/proposals/bDIPs as needed

Onboard 1B people to bankless nation :black_flag:


Does this mean the DAO should not create podcasts, written content, and tools?


The first thing that speaks to me is that this is now being the foundational arm of banklessHQ. Is that ‘decentralized’?

I understand the reasoning behind this. Due to the missteps in brand management with some of these proposals that have been created.

This solution sounds more like creating a foundation arm of bankless HQ with de facto leaders while calling it a DAO.

This doesn’t sound like it’s sticking to the ethos that I recall from when I initially started here in 2021.

The most important point is that I wish the best in this situation. I do not believe that this is the most accurate answer versus any other avenue

RE: [Proposal] Migration to DAOpunks

But, the fact that this proposal has appeared is important. Even though I personally am not a fan, I am a fan of the effort put into this, and the discussion that begins from it.


First off, this is a fantastic proposal and clearly had a lot of thought and work go into it. I appreciate that effort a lot and hope we can iron out any remaining ambiguities to continue thriving as a movement, community, projects, and individuals.

I said in a meeting last week that I think of BanklessDAO as a protocol, so a foundation makes a lot of sense to me as a legal entity.

This proposal elegantly splits brand usage through a simple and clear 3-letter distinction. However, it’s notably missing social consensus for usage of the Bankless brand. It splits the left and right brain halves of the movement. But, we also still need a corpus callosum to ensure ongoing alignment.

Foremost, I believe this means aligning the values of HQ and the DAO. Defining separate missions makes a lot of sense to reinforce brand clarity. But, this proposal hinges on the fact that the values of these two entities are identical (or at least fully aligned and formally recognized as such).

The BanklessDAO brand would be governed by BanklessDAO. However, with unilateral control over whether to grant and/or revoke permission to any given project, there’s room for disagreement between HQ and the DAO about whether a project was in alignment with Bankless values.

To solve this, I propose including either one or both of the following solutions:

  1. HQ makes decisions about whether to grant and revoke permission to use the Bankless brand via an on-chain system to achieve social consensus (e.g. all stakeholders in HQ vote on these decisions using an on-chain tool)
  2. BanklessDAO reserves the right to appeal a decision by HQ if they either deny or revoke permission to use the Bankless brand to a project. The project itself would not be granted appeal rights, the project would need to obtain sufficient support from the general BanklessDAO voting body to submit an appeal (or maybe the foundation would be more appropriate, tbh not sure). Arbitration of the case should be done either by on-chain vote (solution #1) or something like Kleros.

Tbh. This could work both ways. But, given the inclusion of social consensus/decentralized governance in both HQ/DAO value sets, combined with HQ’s interest in retaining the ability to unilaterally revoke permission for Bankless brand use; there should be some social consensus fallback measure available to BanklessDAO in case of isolated disagreement about project compliance with expectations from both orgs.


Also, what is HQ going to do with its genesis $BANK allocation? That was also a main part of the conversation on Twitter that is notably absent from this proposal.

The genesis proposal clearly stated HQ was going to provide a number of benefits to the DAO:

  1. Growth
  2. Products
  3. Execution
  4. People
  5. Partnerships

Can HQ provide a self-retrospective regarding fulfillment of promises in the genesis proposal? And consequently, a fair evaluation of how much $BANK may or may not be returned and/or burned?

The community responded to RSA’s request in Discord via a poll to provide a desired outcome for what HQ should do with their tokens that received over 50 unique votes at the link below.

My personal stance is I’d like to see more promotion of the DAO by HQ. This would actually be implied if all entities are required to clarify “About Bankless”, and not just projects.


Sadly this should have been out weeks ago before gap week and more importantly not around the holidays. I was prepared to really weigh in into the discussion, but right now I just don’t have the time anymore.

The only thing I can add is that, should this be accepted by members, an opportunity to get away from HQ and become independent is pushed away. Even worse so if we establish footing in the system of old power. It does not make sense to try and battle them on their playground. We establish trustless and fair environments and cyberpunk values to then kick them into the dirt as soon as we feel we are someone and want to be recognized as such in the outdated premise we are familiar with? This feels like misunderstanding what build us.

The world needs decentralized media more than ever. bDAO is able to be that. I wonder if it actually wants to.

Why the pessimistic tone (I just noticed myself) instead of a normal weigh in? Guess it’s just frustration. Just as everyone else (even those who represent different views from mine) is frustrated because they poured their heart into this dao. Again, in my opinion, with supporting this proposal they embrace what made them frustrated in the first place. Instead of making bdao and HQ even closer now, it needs a clean cut. It’s not like we’re cutting anything away anyhow, HQs sense of responsibility ended with being the token issuer anyway.

For more background on my views, see my tweets.


These are only examples - the intent is to figure out what these purposes should be. bDAO definitely needs to be able to produce media IMO

The foundation isn’t « under » bHQ, it gives bDAO its own entity to have access to the brand. This is more decentralized than our current situation where our access to the brand only exists through social agreement.

Yes, this is absent, and Ryan/David have stated they are open to the DAO’s opinion on this. That being said, the choice of what to do could be influenced by how the DAO reacts to this proposal, and ultimately the DAO has no control over those tokens - they belong to self-sovereign individuals.

Just as the DAO can’t compel you to return your tokens to the treasury, the DAO can’t compel R/D to decide what to do with their tokens.

It was I who pushed to post the proposal as soon as possible, and I’m sorry it took so long to get out. It’s a complicated subject!

This proposal must stay up a minimum of two weeks, so you will have plenty of time to weigh in in the new year.

Take your time! Chew on it and make your voice be heard.


Absolutely! No ill was meant. Both, the bdao contributors and the HQ did it as fast as was reasonable! The bdao contributors quick as always and even HQ had to regroup a bit after this one court went at them regarding having the term “bank” in their name.

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I have always believed that the DAO and HQ should have a stronger alignment in action. In my mind, the DAO is the next step along the beginners journey, after being introduced to explorations in the space and incited to go deeper with content from HQ.

We can all be stronger together! Just like HQ can’t explore and investigate every interesting idea on their own, the DAO should never focus on trying to reproduce or replace content that introduced many to the space.

Personally, I see a growth curve between the lines of the two organizations that could be much more effectively utilized. When starting from zero, content from HQ should serve as the on-boarding appetizer that sets the table and piques the interest of the user.

As that interest level grows and crypto engagement moves beyond the casual and into the realm of deep dives, perhaps a premium membership at HQ to scratch that itch is the next logical step. We should each endeavour to support those organizations that continue to provide compelling content and Bankless is at the top of this list. Maybe we could all work to make HQ such an undeniable success that the whole community could benefit together? Maybe this looks like a premium sub referral program that generates “premium credit” for the DAO to use as perks and incentives?

Once you have learned, from Bankless content, where your niche in this emerging economy might be, then perhaps your budding journey can continue at the DAO. We offer many opportunities to engage and grow and learn at the DAO, but I’d be remiss in failing to mention that the experience is highly overwhelming, especially to those new in the space. DAO membership is not something to be taken lightly, and perhaps we could establish a more tightly integrated growth curve?

Not everyone will want to move from casual viewer to seriously engaged learner to builder, but we should do what we can to support this growth progression.

What might this look like? I think that when choosing to “upgrade” to the DAO membership from the premium subscription should carry a few additional perks. Since users who join the DAO are hopefully looking to work and build upon our collective mission, this should be recognized with a free premium membership. Perhaps this would involve BDAO providing monthly payment to HQ for premium access, or organizational access to premium for our members. This should help in clarifying the distinction between paid tiers between orgs, as BDAO can then be seen as the next tier up for supporters with a whole new basket of opportunities, while maintaining access to the premium content that brought them in.

Maybe a revamped guest pass system could include referrals and on-boarding of HQ premium subscribers by BDAO ambassadors? Or progressively declining transfer payments from the DAO to HQ on a per member basis (I.e. org pays $12/user for premium access for first month and then declines by $1/month, so free for contributors who remain active beyond 1 year). The other end of this might look like guest passes being assigned exclusively to premium subs, with HQ contributing something like 10% of the sub fee back to the DAO to assist with onboarding.

If we’re all pulling the same direction, then we should want as many of us as possible at the DAO to be informed with all of the great content coming from the teams at HQ. We are the ambassadors for the broader brand at large and there is an overwhelming advantage in having each of us be a little more informed and also to feel appreciated for the work and efforts they are putting into the mission.

Happy holidays to all! Just some food for thought :slight_smile:


Tom Tranmer


CryptoReuMD from Nación Bankless, the Spanish Speaking SubDAO
-I’m agree, we need a legal structure, but i’m trying to figure it out, how are going to manage the other regions outside us, however as @homie said this permissioned DAO, sounds a little strange. Maybe we can have some related channels, because we are at least, some anons or pseudo-anon in the field, and will feel a little uncomfortable.
-Attestations sounds great, but im actually the leader of a projects that hat had the same problem, we need pre approval to start publishing, this is going to be overwhelming and making double job, because we will need to wait to be approved, it’s something alike that we face all the time in science, to wait for the people that “know” what has to or not has to publish something. My point it’s in relation with the mindset of @FlowScience.
-I was imagining something token gated, because we can’t manage every corner of the DAO as the same, the guilds, departments and projects are independent from each other but work great in team, as a switch clock. If we have approval from the committee or something alike we can have like a tlBANK that certifies what we are doing it’s aligned within the Bankless umbrella, and expires in certain amount of time.
-Even if im wrong or right, it’s great for me to have a conversation with all the teams and people of the DAO. I know we are on vacation, but as you know, i’m a MD, i don’t rest, we are on call.

Merry Bankless-mas


I never said I was compelling anyone. I asked a legitimate question as to whether the primary entity submitting this proposal has fulfilled the promises from its last proposal. That seems highly relevant on its own, but especially because it was explicitly mentioned publicly that it would be an essential component of this proposal to separate the brands.

We got into this mess because of relying on informal good faith agreements. If we’re going to create a formal agreement, aka a contract, it has to account for what happens if things don’t proceed in good faith. Because, they haven’t and can’t given the requisite context (edit: simply meaning at some point there is going to be a revokation of permission and/or a disagreement between HQ and DAO over a particular instance of brand use).

This proposal still hinges on trust (at least without an appeal/arbitration process), so the best measure of trust we have is an evaluation of whether previous promises were kept.

And the main on-chain consensus tool we all share is still $BANK. It sounds like a simple fix just providing and honest retro & then the “About Bankless” condition just goes both ways. People were also confused because HQ doesn’t talk about the DAO enough - it’s not just the Arb proposal or things the DAO was doing - this is a two way street.


Firstly, the timing of this proposal is bad. Officially the DAO is on holiday if we are still abiding by the calendar that was finalised and adopted. I personally don’t have the time and the bandwidth to engage in a deep discussion over this till the first week of January.

Secondly, the entire proposal and its individual components put the onus of creating this brand clarity on us (the DAO). We have to create a new identity, we have to incorporate legally, we have to ask for brand usage permission etc etc. The weight of carving out a new identity and positioning is now entirely on the DAO.

I don’t think it would have been better to just hold it back through the break. Everyone has been anxiously awaiting this proposal. This gives us all more time to absorb it and form our questions and opinions. There’s no rush.


The only specific proposal for a legal entity at this time is a Panama Foundation, which has nothing to do with the US.

Hey, thank you everyone who worked on this. I already voted for the parts that I understand. I don’t know how the foundations work. From what I read here, people who set up the Foundation (owners) will have legal authority (as a consequence of being a legal entity) and the multi-signers (foundation owners or elected like now?) will have veto rights over the DAO decisions, right?


Indeed, what I am curious about is more focused here:


It assumes (which i concede is shaky) with this understanding of the foundation founders

(which I’m going to assume (could be wrong) could be the proposal writers, you, and HQ)

are given veto powers (over what I do not know) the definition of multisig signers, directors.

The about Bankless addition, etc.

All of these considerations are fine (I have no qualms with that) but this doesn’t shake out to be decentralized.

It feels more like the non profit arm of a media company. Which could be what is needed right now due to what happened, and how we got into this mess.

But again. There could be other options that could be helpful, that could fair better, or the end result could be mixing up every option to make a happy medium.

Tell you what, though. It’s a start.

hey @rsa please add banklessWallet to your project tracking list.

cc: @links


Not directly but it’s taxable. I don’t know a lot about terms and legal entities but, that what I’ve found in the Bankless Card information about Panama Foundation

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Beneficiaries: Unlike a corporation that issues share certificates to certify who the owners are, the Panama Private Interest Foundation does not have owners, rather it has Beneficiaries. The Panama Foundation Beneficiaries are appointed by the Protector through either a simple, privately written Letter of Wishes, or through a more formal set of Foundation By-Laws (Foundation By-Laws should be written with the assistance of a Panamanian Attorney). A Panama Foundation may be set up so that the Protector is the sole beneficiary until his or her death, at which time the foundation continues for the benefit of other beneficiaries.

It does not have owners but it does have board of directors, secretary etc. which has to sign papers. I am not sure if DAO contributors will be sufficient to be there every time a signature is needed. A lot of us has the tendency to disappear from time to time.

Also those positions will create centers of power. centers.

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Notice how groups are needing to add their name to the permission list. Eventually, some projects wont make the cut.

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