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Over the last year, the IOVIA team has been researching the Creator Economy – and partnering with brands to develop their strategies to engage with it.

One key takeaway from our work: As Web3 technologies become increasingly ubiquitous and power the growth of the Creator Economy, brand and creator partnerships will be altered. The business models for both sides will change. The nature of the partnerships will shift.

In this article we wanted to share what these shifts will look like for brands and creators alike.

Brands need to think about creators differently than consumers

For over a decade, brands have been engaging with consumers in digital spaces on things like market research, innovation and content creation. But unlike general consumers who may not have in-demand creative skills, there’s a massive group of creators across the world who are already making high-end creative assets, content and art (online or off) but who lack the ability to monetize it. This is rapidly changing.

As we wrote earlier this year about how and why brands should tap into the Creator Economy:

“The balance of power is about to shift towards creators because Web3 and its enabling technologies (Blockchain, Crypto, NFTs, etc.) will allow them to monetize their work outside the boundaries of major brand channels or social platforms.”

To be clear, this is going to create a massive opportunity for creators and brands alike. Brands will have opportunities to partner with creators to develop new digital product lines, virtual experiences and more. They’ll also have millions of creators who may suddenly appear more cost-effective and creative than traditional marketing or creative agencies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in a $104 billion and growing sector.

But it all starts with building true partnerships with creators.

7 reasons why brands and creators must form true partnerships

Brands that understand the evolving nature of relationships with creators in the Creator Economy can thrive. Here’s what they need to know.

1. Creators are becoming brands – and they’re going to think like brands

The top creators are building huge followings and will start to launch their own social commerce, product and service offerings on top of their personal creative brands. Their work will appear in everything from the Metaverse to decentralized communities enabled by blockchain technologies to traditional media channels. Like any other brand of value, Creators will be strategic about the partnerships they choose, looking for shared values, creative freedom and opportunities to grow their brands.

2. Creators will demand an equitable share of the value they create – and they’ll get it

Because the Creator Economy will increasingly be a viable career path, creators won’t continue to accept gift cards or social media shoutouts or any of the other token gestures that have become common from brands in return for valuable creative work. Creators will be looking for real compensation for their work. And with so many avenues to monetize their work in the Web3 world, they’ll be able to get fair deals.

3. Creators will – over time – decouple their work from traditional social platforms.

We all know the drill by now. On major social media platforms, we’re the product. And the content we create, and our personal data is used to hook us further and enrich the social media companies. In Web 2.0, this was still the best available deal for most creators to monetize their work and build an audience. Hop on YouTube, build a following, start generating some revenue and you have a nice little side hustle. But the promise of Web3 is that it could remove the need for these oft-predatory platforms and their algorithms, which can turn a recurring monthly revenue source into nothing, almost overnight. 

Building a creative brand in a blockchain-enabled community won’t just give a creator more autonomy and options for building their brand, it will also give them control over their own data. 

What does this mean? Brands should be ready to understand the decentralized, blockchain-enabled digital environments of Web3 and be prepared to partner with creators there. Because creators will migrate to where they have the most control over their creative and economic futures.

4. DEI will be table stakes for creators – and brands will need to prove their bonafides

You can’t paint all creators with a single brush but it’s clear that diversity, equity and inclusion will be central to the decentralized Creator Economy. Would-be brand partners should expect creators to ask them about DEI efforts and challenge attempts to ‘greenwash’ their efforts in these areas. It will even go beyond DEI to include broader areas of concern like environmental sustainability. We’ve been on a path towards all these things for years now and the Creator Economy will only amplify their importance.

5. Creators will want to collaborate, not just execute a brand’s creative brief

When a brand hires a creative agency or freelancer, they typically provide a brief for the work to be done that includes the vision for the project and the requirements for the work. The difference with many creators is they will want to collaborate not just on the work but in developing that creative vision to begin with. Once you think of a creator as a creative partner instead of a creative vendor, you can start to understand how the relationship between brand and creator can shift in an interesting and productive way.

6. Brands can offer value to creators through incubation and upskilling

One interesting opportunity for brands and creators alike is a partnership model where the brands help the creators grow their businesses, through creative partnerships, or by helping them develop and refine their creative skills. Again, these are creative people and while a focus in this article has been on them monetizing their work, many creators will see value in a brand that offers other opportunities for learning like a weeklong bootcamp for their partner creators where they get to build new relationships and develop new skills. There’s plenty of opportunity for brands to develop new models here.

7. The nature of brand and creator partnerships will continue to evolve

There is significant blue-sky opportunity for brands to build partnerships with creators, and because it’s so early the most exciting and lucrative opportunities for brands and creators aren’t entirely certain. Maybe it’s in the Metaverse. Maybe it’s an original co-created digital product. Maybe it’s a brand collaborating with a group of creators to develop a tokenized creative community. Maybe it’s something entirely different.

The important thing for brands is to recognize the growing autonomy and empowerment of creators – and to build sustainable, long-term partnerships where both sides win.

How brands can get started in the Creator Economy

Brands looking for ways to engage with the Creator Economy or understand how Web3 can empower their work with creators are well served to:

·  Take a strategic, systematic approach to understanding the available opportunities and key themes in the Creator Economy and the underpinning Web3 technologies.

·  Developing a business model to test and refine in partnership with creators.

·  Get their feet wet! Embrace a spirit of (creative) experimentation so they can partner with some creators, learn fast and adjust even faster.If you’d like us to share more insights and discuss opportunities for your brand in the Creator Economy, get in touch to schedule an initial discussion.