The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) reaffirms that bitcoin is an “official” US name for virtual currency. Incidentally, many find the name Bitcoin an “unattractive” brand name. Indeed, some have been calling for replacing its name, and its differing logos, to prevent Bitcoin’s demise. Critics also point out that Bitcoin still lacks a proper currency symbol.
Nevertheless, defying marketing orthodoxy, Bitcoin outperformed fiat currencies for two years in a row.
Issues with the Bitcoin Brand Name
New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) just approved Coinbase as a virtual currency and a money transmitter. In the respective press release of January 17, 2017, DFS explicitly refers to bitcoin, without capitalization, when referring to virtual currency, “Coinbase, which is subject to ongoing supervision by DFS, offers services for buying, selling, sending, receiving, and storing bitcoin.”
Bitcoin with capitalization refers to the concept or the network itself.
Good branding is a crucial tool, by which consumers identify and differentiate a product. The purpose of a brand name is also to attract and hold loyal consumers. Bad branding, on the other hand, leaves consumers unresponsive to the product or just turns them away.
Brand name changes are often in the news. For example, Google changed to Alphabet, and Phillip Morris became Altria.
Most recently, Yahoo Inc. announced that part of Yahoo is changing its name. The new name is Altaba. According to CNBC, “Experts say the renamed company could be a way for Yahoo to shake off its recent problems, with two data breaches affecting a total of 1.5 billion user accounts in 2016, as well as being a requirement of the deal.”
Many feel uneasy with the Bitcoin name, and some have even been calling for a new name.
Guy Lepage, Partner at Blockstack, wrote an article entitled “Bitcoin has a brand problem,” in November 2015. In it, Lepage specified a list of reasons supporting his call to rename Bitcoin.
One of Lepage’s many objections is the name. “Plastic coins. The term evokes imagery of plastic coins from your childhood. This is a great example of what not to do when naming a product or technology. A little marketing research at the naming stage would have raised awareness that the finance industry takes their money very seriously and having a fun, playful name does not appeal to this audience.”
Lepage’s article concludes with an appeal to have the Bitcoin name changed. Otherwise, Lepage predicts, “I fear without this change, it could be another 10 years before this network really takes off — if at all.”
Bitcoin’s Logo versus Bitcoin’s Currency Symbol
Bitboy, a Bitcoin Forum user, claims to be the author of the logo, which is an inclined, bold capital letter serif B, traversed by two vertical lines.
Granted, the Bitcoin logo it is not a designer’s. It is not stylish or elegant. The logo does not convey all that Bitcoin represents.
Most importantly, Bitcoin is not a company, product or brand to have a logo, says Melissa Volkmann, Lead Designer, HashRabbit Inc.
Besides, Bitcoin’s logo is not a currency symbol, points out bitcoinsymbol.org. “Currencies are represented by symbols like $, € or ¥, aiming to be used everywhere by everybody.”
In October 2015, Ken Shirriff submitted a proposal to Unicode, to have the currency symbols, the serif capital B with the two vertical strokes, added to the standard. As a result, in November 2015, Unicode recommended its integration into the Unicode standard. However, as Bitcoin.com reported in July 2016, the Unicode standard, version 9.0, excluded the Bitcoin’s currency symbol.
Even if Bitcoin’s currency symbol is eventually included in the Unicode standard, Bitcoinsymbol.org dismisses U+20BF and demands the Unicode character U+0243, Ƀ instead.
The bitcoinsymbol.org project’s primary objective is to find the right symbol for Bitcoin. You can participate and share your ideas about this project here.
Microsoft Will Support Bitcoin
The good news is that Microsoft will soon include a Bitcoin symbol in its Excel Accounting and Currency formats.
“In 2017, Excel will be able to recognize, format, calculate, and analyze numbers expressed in Bitcoin currency. The new feature will be available for Excel running under Windows 10, Android, Mac OS, and iOS, and will include Excel Mobile versions as well,” says Martin Butler, Account Executive, Globals at Microsoft.
Office Watch expects Microsoft to use the Unicode character Ƀ.
Nevertheless, regardless of its unmarketable brand name or logo, and the fact that it lacks an official currency symbol, Bitcoin, thanks to its inherent virtues, is the most successful cryptocurrency. Indeed, as reflected by its performance, and ever-greater adoption rates, Bitcoin is on the path to becoming a prominent world currency.
What are your thoughts about changing the Bitcoin name or logo? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Creative Commons, and Ecogex.
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