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How VSA Partners Is Helping Brands Move Into Web3

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By: cryptotravelsmichael

How VSA Partners Is Helping Brands Move Into Web3


crypto, brands, blockchain, vsa partners, metaverse, companies, experiences, trading platforms, nft, platform, industry, organization


Sarah Lent, Michael, Ariadna Navarro

Michael  00:00

Welcome to the New To Crypto Podcast designed to guide you through the crypto landscape with pinpoint accuracy created for the new and intermediate crypto investor. Join your host Crypto Travels Michael as he takes you through the different facets of getting started and succeeding in your crypto journey. New To Crypto Podcast brings you new episodes daily Monday through Friday with surprise bonus episodes sometimes on the weekend. Let me ask you, Are you new to crypto and don’t know where to start? Are you more experienced but have questions? Then you’re in the right place. This podcast is designed for you coming at you from the training center in the lifestyle design studio. Here’s your host Crypto Travels Michael. Hey, welcome to today’s podcast. Today I’m joined by two amazing guests from VSA partners, which is actually a hybrid brand strategy and design agency, which has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. VSA Partners has worked with brands such as Google, Nike, IBM, Pepsi, and more. And on the show today, I am joined by Ari Navarro, who’s the Chief Strategy Officer, and Sarah Lent who’s the Chief Marketing Officer. Be sure to check out our blog page today about today’s episode, which has all of the detailed information about Ari & Sara as well as VSA partners, including their links. So without further ado, I’d like to welcome our guests Ari & Sarah, welcome to the podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you here.

Ariadna Navarro  01:42

Thank you we’re excited to be here and ready to jump in.

Michael  01:47

Awesome. Hey, before we jump in, can you tell our listeners just to share a little bit about yourself?

Ariadna Navarro  01:55

Sure, I’ll go first Sara, that’s okay, then you can jump in. And I’m sorry, Navarro. As Michael said, I’m the Chief Strategy Officer here at VSA. My background is actually in innovation and business strategy and experience design. So I’ve spent most of my career helping all kinds of clients figure out the future where the world is going so that they can then build very resilient brands and resilient business strategies and make the right choices moving forward. So crypto and blockchain and the metaverse and web three and obviously this conversation is at the tip of everyone’s tongue and sort of trying to figure out what is the future of creating these new brand communities. So it’s, it’s all very pertinent conversation, and excited to have this chat.

Sarah Lent  02:44

Great. Hi, I’m Sarah Lent. I’m the CMO of VSA partners. My background is similar to Ari’s, I’ve, you know, spent about 20 years in our industry working across brand strategy design, digital innovation, advertising, and media. I grew up in Silicon Valley. So I’ve just had, you know, a lifetime of experience and, you know, looking at how emerging technology transforms the way that you know, consumers behave and businesses behave and how brands can tap into those technologies to build deeper connections with their audiences. And so you know, looking at, you know, wWeb3, blockchain, and crypto and how that is transforming this landscape yet, again, is an incredibly exciting time for us at VSA partners, but also for our clients and helping them to understand this new landscape. And what are the appropriate steps to take today to make sure that we’re futureproofing their business for tomorrow?

Michael  03:43

Fantastic. Those were some awesome intros in Wow, talk about an extensive experience that you both have. That segways me into VSA partners. Can you share an overview of VSA and who your company helps?

Sarah Lent  04:00

Sure, absolutely. So VSA partners have been in business for 40 years now we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary in November, you know, and, you know, has transformed you know, throughout those 40 years to meet the emerging needs of modern marketers, but today, we’ve organized ourselves as you introduced us as like this hybrid brand strategy, design, and communications agency. And the reason that we’ve done that is because we want to make sure that we have a really robust consulting practice led by Ari, to ensure that that team can go deep inside of our clients, businesses understand how it operates, and to ensure that every solution that we build through the creative components and disciplines across the organization is rooted in solving a business problem or helping them to capture an opportunity of growth. And so the clients that we work with are typically clients that are in an inflection point, you know, those clients that either you know have lost their way a bit and need to re reinvigorate their organization, and solve an issue that they’re trying to address or clients that are budding and emerging and looking to skyrocket. And so, you know, we can work across a spectrum of clients, both large and small. And also, you know, across every industry, so it’s been, you know, a robust history of business strategy, design thinking, and world-class storytelling, that’s really propelled VSA to the organization that we are today.

Michael  05:31

Fantastic. Wow, thanks for sharing that with our listeners. My first question in the deep dive is for Ari, so much of like power of crypto lies with like, some say, fanatic communities. And I wanted to ask you, how do you look at community building for brands? That would be like the first part of the question. The second part would be like, about what can other brands learn about crypto and how it engages specifically with communities because a lot of crypto communities are tight-knit, and there’s a lot of loyalty amongst certain projects and things like that.

Ariadna Navarro  06:11

Yeah, it’s interesting. And I love this question. Because when I, when I got into crypto, it was first on a personal level, and I, a friend of mine, Sara’s laughing because she knows I went deep and into a rabbit hole, really, really fast. And it was so intense. That when it by the time I came out of it, I was almost in shock up myself, because of one the speed by which I had gone down that rabbit hole, how fast I had to learn because it’s I think anyone getting into crypto knows that it’s, it’s not easy to understand where to go and how to trade and especially if you’re not trading, you know, sort of the bigger coins. And if, or this is, you know, obviously a while back now, I think no one’s trading anything but some of those if they are. But if you know the time, if you are really getting into being coins, you had to really educate yourself to understand. So by the time I came out, I was really sort of in shock at exactly what you just said, sort of this crazy community that had its own language to talk on its own platforms, its own tools, its own way of talking, its own sort of business dynamics, you know, how do you pump up the price? And what are the words you say when eat the dip. And I mean, there’s just so many crazy things about it, that I started to look at it I’m like, what this is not that dissimilar to how, you know, sort of a cult operates, or how religion operates.

And you know, when you break it down, you start to see it, you’re like, okay, they have their own language. In many cases, they have leaders, you know, they have colors, they have platforms, they have, you know, unique people that sort of adhering to that almost philosophy of each one. They have leaders within that community, they have whales they have I mean, there are so many different layers that that, you know, companies would pay as millions to build a brand system and a community that’s that robust. So I don’t know if this was done on purpose, by the, you know, that their early crypto communities to create sort of all these elements that sort of naturally create adhesion, but they have them all, they have all these layers. So when you enter the world of a meme coin, or when you’re entered your fanatical about a platform, or you know, I became fanatical about Dex tool, so that was like the one for me, that’s what worked. And it they’re really sort of thinking of all these points that you come in. And because you’re investing so much time, because you kind of have to the more time you invest in anything, the more you have an allegiance toward that. That’s when you know when people don’t like sports. And I can say this now, and I own it. And I don’t know anything about sports, and I look at sports people who love them. And with all, because I don’t understand how you can be fanatical about a team. But it’s the same premise, right? Like, you can be fanatical about a sports team, even if they lose forever. But you’re just invested so much time so that you know I think the more time you invest, the harder it is to get out. So it’s a lot of different reasons why I think it happens. But I think that eventually, the question becomes how can you do that in a way that’s ethical, and responsible and allows people an off-ramp as well as, as an on-ramp?

Michael  09:33

Well said Yeah, I was just going to bring up sports he brought that I just got out of a meeting. a friend owns a handful of soccer teams or football teams depending on where in the world you’re from. And we actually had that conversation. He was talking about how fanatic sports fans are, you know, it’s a community and just like in crypto, you know, it’s a group of people or community or communities that are centered, that they’re like-minded and they’re centered around you. You know, a certain, a certain topic, a lot of its tech. Also, as you know, a lot of crypto projects involve a great deal of marketing and exposure. You have the dev or the developer side. And then you have the marketing side, you know, and then, of course, you get into all these other things and vocabulary like utility and all that, you know, but yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head there. Sarah, I wanted to ask you, how are you approaching? It VSA? Like the metaverse for your client partners? And do you see community-building opportunities? Or, you know, there’s well or?

Sarah Lent  10:39

Well, yes, I mean, you know, I think that the metaverse, as we can see it today is quite vague. We don’t know how this world and this next evolution of the interface is going to come to fruition yet, there are some pathways that we see being built, some that feel a bit dystopian, where we are fully disconnected and only living in a virtual world. And some feel a little bit more optimistic, about where the digital environments are going to start to interact within our physical world to create a better human experience. I am hopeful for the more utopian-like, you know interface to come to fruition because there is this massive convergence that’s occurring right now with hardware with five and infrastructure coming together with 5g space, spatial anchors, and wearables starting to really evolve and become the new norm. And then the kind of commercial infrastructure that is buddied with blockchain and crypto and how value exchange can occur in this world.

And so today, the way that we’re talking about you know, the metaverse and web three technology, and how that will enable brand-building experiences for our clients is very much in its infancy, like how can we take our clients into this world and responsibly, explore opportunities for connection, opportunities for innovation, and opportunities for them to learn and ultimately become the future leaders of web three experiences? So what we’re looking at right now for our clients is how do you think about integrating an NFT kind of program into your marketing organization, to utilize, you know, a portal or a function to build communities to build brand loyalty, to create a shared value exchange with your audiences to ultimately drive business performance. And part of that exploration that we’re doing is in partnership with ripple and their $250 million creators fund that will help brands come in, and artists and creators alike to, as you said, dip their toes into this new technology, explore how NFT’s can be embedded in their business, but most importantly, how do we explore the utility that NFT’s can have for business value?

Michael  13:01

Yeah, absolutely. I was just going to bring that up. The utility aspect, I would say, has become an important part of offering the NFTs, you know, a lot of people that are newer to either Metaverse or NFT’s, you know, or even crypto, in general, are like, you know, what exactly is utility. You know, for example, I’m currently creating, it’s gonna be a crypto investors board game, kind of like Kiyosaki is cashflow meets monopoly. And to purchase the game, the people buy the NFT, and then the utility is receiving the physical board game will be sent to them. So it’s just you know, other NFT projects have, like, utility portion is you get access to a private exclusive community, you know, that kind of thing. So, yeah, I think you hit the nail in the head right there. Adi, I wanted to ask you, what do you think crypto brands and crypto companies need to be careful about? How much time do we know I mean, it’s, I will say there are some really good projects. Yeah, of course, yeah. Are not yes,

Ariadna Navarro  14:08

I’m gonna hit this just from the human side. And a little bit from the brand side, and I’ll leave I’ll talk about regulation and social conscience out of it because that’s a longer I think it’s a longer conversation. We did the brand positioning for a, I don’t know if we can name them, but it’s one of the top three trading platforms out there. And they’re incredibly responsive and really take it seriously. But as we were doing this work in trying to understand business objectives, how they grow and who are the crypto curious and who’s going to come into the platform, when and at what spending level, you start to realize that it’s really young people it’s like, okay, so we want to do we want to go after the 18-year-old and is that responsible, even if we’re asking for someone to invest $50 and try it out for the first time? And how does that sort of start to look like? So you do have to ask yourself, how are you going to grow? Naturally, that sort of gambling and gamification aspect of crypto is going to be very appealing to very young people. And then I have my 14-year-old son obsessed about it. And I have to be, you know, sort of sit down and say, Okay, how do I encourage you, but also, then responsibly? What do I need to teach you? So when you are building, whether you’re a platform, or you’re even building a community, you really I think, have to be very conscious about what value are you creating, in addition to crypto. And then what responsibility do you have in that process?

Because we all know, it’s very volatile. We all know, it’s, you know, it’s a game of chance, at best, at least right now, not the utopian version, of course, democratizing access to finance and financial assets, but it is today, so brands have a responsibility to create also human value in that process, and, and to really deeply understand what is the long term impact of what is that, you know, once we snatch that very young person? What is the impact we’re gonna have on their financial life for the rest of their life? You know, I always kind of equate it with, if Steve Jobs had asked himself, what is the impact of the iPhone when he launched it? And what’s that going to do to alienated societies? And, you know, and people not talking ever again, and people, you know, I think maybe they would have done things differently, or there are things that he would have put in place differently. So I kind of think about that as an analogous way of looking at it. So I think brands have to be thinking about that. And ultimately think it’s a human on the other side. So what responsibility do they have as they’re building these brands and communities?

Michael  16:52

Absolutely. No, I definitely agree that there, there’s definitely the responsibility in launching projects and you know, having anything involved even the platform you’d mentioned in the investment space, you know, crypto and in Bitcoin is a newer asset class. You know, that I would say, I would say in the industry that people are hard at work on improving it. There are a lot of really good people. And there’s a lot of prevention. It’s a lot of people are mindful of the prevention of rug pools and things like that. In other words, to protect, you know, investors long term, that kind of thing. Sarah wanted to ask you regarding we touched on the metaverse if brands don’t know where to start, like to enter, you know, the metaverse, either from a branding marketing perspective or even to know about, you know, in general, what would you say are some first steps that they can take? And how can they proceed? You know, to learn more and dig deeper into that world?

Sarah Lent  17:55

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I mean, we’re kind of looking at it from two sides. I mentioned earlier in the conversation how brands can dip their toes in by exploring an NFT program and how it can be embedded inside of their marketing engine as a community builder, or an engine of driving revenue growth, but they can also start to look at it from the more experiential side. You know, a lot of what the metaverse is going to be like is, you know, kind of like the world of gaming, right, it’s a breakdown of siloed media portals where there’s going to enter awkward ability for users to be able to transform into one platform versus the other. So for instance, we all could be on squad cast today. And we could be talking about the latest drop of Stranger Things on Netflix because it’s spectacular. It’s incredible content. But today, we would have to hang up and then go into Netflix and get back on another platform to be able to talk about and share those experiences. Within the Metaverse, we’ll be able to explore moving from this platform into Netflix understand, like interact with content together, interact with characters, some of the products that could have NFT experiences that would be a portal into accessing, you know, more additional experiences aligned to the utility that you’re discussing.

And so for brands to really understand how that interface is going to come to fruition and how people are going to start to interact within that more kind of cohesive, interactive environment. Gaming is kind of A good place to start, you know, understand those users understand what they’re looking for within those environments, understand how they interact with each other, understand what’s valuable, what drives value, how they exchange that value and build a cohesive engagement strategy for how your brand can show up in those communities and help elevate value rather than detract from it. Because if brands start to come into that space, is an trying to advertise the way that we advertise today, they’re quickly going to get shoved at shut out of those communities, you really have to understand that user base and what they are looking for and what’s meaningful to them, and enable experiences that elevate that rather than detract from it.

Michael  20:18

Definitely, definitely, I agree. And the gaming and eSports industry is huge. It’s, yeah, I had on the show some, some leaders from that before, and they were talking about one of the events that they had had a greater, the greater amount of people just watching it than the Superbowl like so that just gives brands an idea of, of how much opportunity worldwide is in gaming, and things to come in gaming. I want to I wanted to ask both of you, you both of you have worked in your company as well with brands like Google, Nike, IBM, Pepsi, and others. Who would you say is yours is VSA partners like targeted customer? And how could you help them because we have people that have brands that listen to the show? Or Chief Marketing Officers of different even crypto brands and other Tech Tech brands? And so how can VSA partners? Help them?

Sarah Lent  21:16

So yeah, I mean, I think I’d said at the start of the call, like we work with, you know, at across every single industry and any you know, across clients of various different sizes, you know, we’ve worked with IBM for 30 years. But we’ve also worked with a firm helping them to break through and become an emergent Dominant Player within the FinTech space. So it’s everything and anything in between. But what when we show up best, and when marketers get like, the true value for us is when marketers come to us, and they have a very specific need that they are trying to solve, right? Whether they’re trying to break through and become the next game-changing brand. Or they’re trying to maintain the dominance that they’ve had in the marketplaces, as competitors are nipping at their heels. That’s where VSA partners really show up? Well, because we understand how businesses operate. And we bring creativity and design thinking to that to make it really human-centered and applicable and create solutions that have an impact, but have, you know, longevity to them as well.

Michael  22:24

Okay. All right. I wanted to also ask you, what sorts of trends do you see in marketing these days, which either directly involve crypto in the blockchain industry, or maybe even indirectly?

Ariadna Navarro  22:40

Yeah, I’ll jump, I’ll jump in on this. I mean, there’s, there’s a little bit of, there’s a little bit of everything. I think there’s sort of the side of branding that has worked really hard to humanize brands, you know, we’ve moved from these big brands, whether it is a lot of the brands that we work with, you know, these big legacy giant organizations, to a lot of, you know, last decades or a lot of startup movement. And they you know, a lot of these companies, because they were creating sort of new business model innovation, and a lot of the whatever they were delivering, was based on new technology, they really worked to create very simple brand systems, you know, you have the Caspers over the world, you in the Robin Hood’s of the world, there were very simple brands with a very simple message with very simple visual identities, you know, that you could sort of getting very quickly. And that and you’ve seen that, right? And it’s like millennial pink, and they kind of, they all show up in a sort of very similar. And now I understand why, you know, we sort of had this, then we went into sort of this, we got into sort of this whole crazy tech world that has proliferated, and that tech world, specifically blockchain and honestly, any company within the Digital Transformation world, has just created this sea of sameness and jargon and selling by features rather than actually having a brand and a differentiated perspective and a position in the market that maybe even could connect at a more emotional level.

So I think a lot of those tech companies and I say Tech because it is quite broad. It’s honestly anyone from IoT all the way to web three and everything is blockchain and everything in between, I think are struggling to differentiate and now realizing, holy crap, we never built the brand because we have the technology. Now, we need to invest in a brand because they realize the brand is why you choose something, you know, 70 80% of us have a choice to make actually happens at this sort of monetary unconscious level or subconscious level, but sort of this, this almost irrational sort of belief. And it happens because you’ve had some contact and understanding and connection with a brand. So tech companies are realizing that they have to build up the brand and the differentiation comes at the brand level, not at the tech level. And then the big corporations are saying, Okay, well, we have to humanize and simplify and come down to that level. So it’s fascinating, I think, at the time and in branding, and I think everyone’s learning from historical sort of trends and kind of trying to figure out what’s, what’s the brand net, you know, what is the next evolution of brands?

Michael  25:23

Thanks for unpacking that. Ari, you touched on actually a trading platform earlier. And I wanted to ask you if it actually brings to the top of mind, do you see like, is there an ethical mandate for crypto and trading platforms today? And how do you think that should be approached?

Ariadna Navarro  25:41

I mean, honestly, I think every company has an ethical mandate today, it’s not just crypto. I mean, it makes sense that it’s crypto because it’s crypto, you know, and that’s obviously what we’re here to talk about. But Sarah and I talk about all this all the time, in the past, you had institutions and organizations who are the beacons of society, a government of religion, education, you know, all these things, and they’ve supported the world and your believes and create role models, and that’s how societies functioned. A lot of those institutions have failed. And that responsibility for a long time now has fallen on brands and on companies. And now it’s, you know, a Pepsi has to uphold the values of society or IoT, or, or Levi’s, you know, whoever you know, or Avi enough, like, it’s the companies that have to now act ethically that have to have ESG policies that basically save the world that have to move social differences forward and injustice, as it falls on everyone.

So that’s kind of point one, then when you bring that down to crypto, then it to me it is more of like maybe less than less of sort of this big global responsibility and more of okay, if you’re creating a new financial system, or that’s the ambition, that obviously it’s decentralized, it’s not attached to governments that enable empowers, you know, someone in a country with no bank access to sell their, their products, like all the things that crypto promises, if that is the goal, someone has decreed the moral fiber and the rules of engagement. As with any society, it cannot be the wild wild west. So these trading platforms are a good sort of starting point, because they are and they have volume, and obviously the financial power and reach that, you know, maybe others don’t. So I do think they have to come together and say, Okay, it’s not the wild, wild west, we have locked arms. Here are rules of engagement here, you know, here’s how we behave. Here are our tenets. And now let’s go and innovate and grow.

Michael  27:48

Okay. Yeah, it’s, I would say one of the things that people love about crypto is that it’s, it’s global, it’s permissionless and trustless. So I could send your crypto from my phone right now. There’s no intermediary, people love that. It’s very, depending on which blockchain in which token, it’s very low cost to send it to you. And depending on, you know, which token is sent, you could have instant finality or have it, you know, in less than a minute, and, and in some developing countries, you know, you touched on that as well as it’s a real benefit to have, you know, it’s almost like another payment system or payment alternative companies like brands like Travala, for example, when I if I want to go take a trip, I can go to and I can book my all my travel and pay with any one of dozens of different cryptocurrencies.

So, I would say that there’s, there’s more adoption, even with brands accepting payment of crypto, you know, even my, my virtual private server, you know, I can pay in crypto and that kind of thing. You can even buy precious metals these days in crypto and things like that. So, you know, it’s, we saw years ago where Apple pay Google Pay, you know, came into came in, I remember the days of PayPal in the very beginning. You know, that was a foreign concept. You’re gonna what, email me money? I don’t understand, you know, so, yeah, no, that’s so true. Yeah. And then we have companies like Wise or TransferWise these days, and, you know, all the other ones that have followed and the global fintech and, yeah, so I would say there’s a lot of room for improvement. I would also say that there’s there are leaders in the space that are working hard. And I, I would, I would venture to say that they, you know, they understand how important it is to have a trustable. Industry, if you will, you know,

Ariadna Navarro  29:51

and the thing is you have two sides and you touch on them both. And when we did our crypto project, we were trying to figure out what the perception of people see Kryptos occur Let’s see obviously do they see it as a trading asset? And I can’t remember the stats, but I think right now it’s sort of like 70% is trading and only 30% is used as currency. So you have two, two dynamics that are very into motivations that are very, very, very, very, very different. So when you have one driving the perception, you have to figure out how to reconcile that. Because if that’s going to create the Trust for the currency side, and that’s the volatile side of it, because and that’s the more sort of PR worthy side, and that’s what gets out there, you know, and then Floki floods the world where that, you know, like, that side influences the stable side, and vice versa. So it’s, again, it’s not if you look if you are looking at that as the brand system, it’s not the easiest thing to figure out, especially if no one’s in charge, because that’s the nature of it. So I agree, there are a lot of people doing a really good job. And I just think it has to be clear. And eventually, you’re going to need it, like got milk, you know, kind of version of the campaign that really starts to create a mass understanding of it at a level that people can digest it.

Michael  31:16

Well said, yeah, there’s it’s also been blockchain has been taught, and many, many of the top universities in the world actually one of the founders of one of the, one of the most popular, you know, crypto projects is an MIT professor. And so I would say there’s, you know, traditional business is overlapping with the tech side, and even the tech industry, you know, into, I guess it’s fair to say this new thing called crypto, you know, relatively new, new asset class, you know, wanted to ask both of you what, what are some things to come in 2022 and beyond with VSA partners?

Sarah Lent  31:52

I mean, it’s a great question, I think, you know, you can expect to see us to always embed very rigorous strategic thinking, design thinking, and creativity across all of our clients, and businesses. But what I’d be looking for from us is really, how do we Shepherd really impactful brand-building experiences as web 3d technology starts to evolve, as you know, blockchain and crypto starts to become a bit more normalized, a bit more mainstream. And how can brands embed themselves to create value with those technologies and the communities that they’re looking to connect with?

Michael  32:33

Okay, very good. Sara, we touched earlier, a little bit about like, your company’s involvement with ripple and the creator fund. What part is VSA playing? In what you, you, and your group are doing there?

Sarah Lent  32:49

Absolutely. So, you know, as I said, we as you know, kind of marketing leaders and consultants for our clients, you know, believe that it is our responsibility to stay ahead of the time, you know, to future proof, our knowledge to ensure that we future proof our clients, businesses, and part of that process is looking for strategic partnerships that help fill in the gaps of our understanding, especially on the technical side. And one of those strategic partnerships that we’ve made is with ripple, leading crypto, and blockchain company based in San Francisco. And they are, you know, a highly responsible organization, they have invested in their technology in a very meaningful and responsible way. They have carbon neutrality embedded is across all of their principles in their organization. And they ensure that they do not innovate just for innovation’s sake, they are doing it in a way that is responsible to society, I guess, in an ethical manner that we were discussing earlier on. And so those values are very much aligned to our values at VSA partners, but most importantly, the values of our clients. And so we embarked upon a strategic partnership with ripple to enable that really robust technical understanding of crypto and blockchain and how, you know, web three is going to transform the way that businesses operate and marry that with our capability of truly understanding brand and marketing and our client’s businesses and what we can do together. And throughout that partnership ripple launched a $250 million creators but that invites artists and creators and brands in to access that fund. So that it is the sole purpose for those companies to utilize the exploration of how NFTs can be embedded inside of their organizations, how they can be utilized as a marketing engine, and how it can derive utility for those companies.

And so we VSA partners are the premier creative partner for those brands to come to the fund, and we can help them as marketing leaders to imagine how to do so. And so I think we talked a lot about, you know, NFT’s I think you mentioned could access, you know, could be a portal that gives you access to a physical product, it can be a portal that can give you access to like a certain experience that you are looking to achieve with a brand. But also, it can be incredibly functional in its value. You know, I think I’ve always made this joke, and I talk about it already, all the time, like when the boring stuff really shows up, that’s when you know, it’s going to be embedded for good, right? So there will be a future word NFT is going to be located on the blockchain, that’s going to be your home deed. And you as an individual that actually really don’t, you don’t know where that is, like, you will have like that as a digital like, you know, a smart contract that lives on the blockchain that will be accessible by you and anybody else that you are looking to share that with, you know, there will be a future where your patient data, your personal patient data about you, as an individual will live on the blockchain and will be accessible by NFT, there’ll be a transfer of power to the patient so that you could have the capability to distribute the data that you find relevant to the medical providers that you are working with like these fundamental shifts are coming.

And we believe that our partnership with ripple is really going to supercharge us as marketers to see that future, to see where the boring stuff is going to start to embed massive in industry and behavior change of consumers. And then how do brands get ahead of that, to make sure that they are at the forefront of that change? Rather than on their back heels?

Ariadna Navarro  36:50

Can I jump on something? Michael, do you mind just because I think it’s it’s an important point to make? If you’re not very familiar with this topic, or even obviously, marketers are a little bit but they can’t figure out how to get on, you know how to get on, on the highway or where to start? I think it is imperative for brands to test and learn and to try and to and to literally spend the time and the mindshare and the manpower to sit down and talk about okay, what challenges do you have? Where can we add value? Hey, let’s, let’s test a little something here. Okay, how can we build that? Okay, well, actually, that didn’t work, let’s do something else. Because no one has the answers. You know, if you asked me how to build a brand, up until NFT’s I would have to do you did you know like, in two seconds, I would tell you what to do. But if you told me what is the best in-class example of how to use NFTS for this, that, or the other, I can give you an example of brands that have done things, but not 100%. Sure, that’s the right move either. So so much of where we are in this innovation cycle is exploration. So rather than sort of being anxious, and you know, close the door and be like, I don’t even know where to start. So I’m not going to do anything about it. I think it brands genuinely just have to have creative conversations, they have to do research, they have to understand how are people using some of these either communities or more utilitarian and FTS today, and then start to understand and play with it. You know, I mean, it’s a technology that gives us the ability to kind of tweak and does different things. So I think the brands that will win in this space are brands that get in early and that are fearless about trying different things.

Michael  38:41

Yeah, I definitely agree. It came up earlier, we were talking about how, how fast things in blockchain and crypto, you know, change in the move, you know, in and tech as well. You know, so it’s, it’s an exciting time. I love tech and I love the blockchain and crypto industry and, you know, it’s just the changes and the fact that everything’s global. There are so many people around the world that are, involved in, you know, it’s just, it’s an exciting time. What are some ways that our listeners can stay in the conversation and even reach out to you and your team?

Sarah Lent  39:19

I mean, please, please, please go to VSA There is an email address there that you can email my entire team gets every email that is sent through the website, including myself. If you have any interest in VSA partners. If you have any interest in the creator’s fund, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Michael  39:40

Okay, fantastic. And we also have all the links as well on the episode Blog Posts page, your website and I believe your socials, social medias, and everything. Is there. Is there anything else that either one of you would like to share? Today as we start to wrap up our interview?

Sarah Lent  39:58

You know, I just think I have, you know, a comment on something that you said that things move really fast, especially in technology, I find that it’s like that pace is quickening every day, you know, the change is just a, you know, every day, something new is happening. And so just to double down on Ari’s point, don’t be afraid to try things, you know, don’t be afraid, if it’s not 100% success, right? Part of moving into a new space or emerging technologies, and changing things is about trying things out. And the success metric is not necessarily how well it goes. It’s about what you learn from it, and how you apply it within your next iteration of, you know, kind of brand-building experiences. So that would be my final comment to the listeners is, you know, take a risk, you know, because it’s worth it.

Ariadna Navarro  40:49

I love it. And I guess one last thing I’ll add, and this is this strategist and me, but whatever you’re building, even in this test, to learn and you know, innovation process, try to create something meaningful, you know, try to really think of the user at the other end. And it’s not just about making sure someone goes down that rabbit hole forever and never talks to a real human being. Again, it’s not about engaging someone 24 hours a day. But what are you creating, that’s adding meaningful value, and that means value, of course, can come in the form of entertainment and fun and joyful virtual experiences, but really try to think about creating human value in the process so that you’re not just creating more noise in the market.

Michael  41:36

Agreed, agreed. Well said, yeah, it’s important to create a really good product or project, whatever, whatever it may be, you know, be in the process of being created. So it was a pleasure to have both of you on the show today. And we welcome you back in the future. You know, we have Ari in New York and Sarah in the San Francisco Bay area, you know, so it was a pleasure to have you both here.

Sarah Lent  42:01

Thank you so much for having us. It was this is a lot of fun.

Ariadna Navarro  42:05

Thank you.

Michael  42:06


Ariadna Navarro  42:07

Thank you. I really do appreciate it.

Michael  42:09

So thanks for coming out. And if you liked today’s episode, definitely like and subscribe to the podcast. Show your support and chime in here tomorrow for another special episode. Until then, make it a great day. Thanks for tuning in to New To Crypto Podcast. If you liked the episode, be sure to follow and subscribe. You can listen to every episode on all major platforms and have an interest in being on the show or one advertising reach out at new to Head over to our site to access the resources mentioned in each episode. Until next time, remember to navigate the crypto landscape with pinpoint accuracy.

This episode is brought to you by Brave and Brave Wallet are built by a team of privacy focused, performance oriented pioneers of the web. Brave was co-founded by Brendan Eich & Brian Bondy. Brendan Eich is the creator of Javascript, and was a co-founder of Mozilla Firefox. Download the Brave privacy browser at

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Table of Contents

Is your company still using traditional platforms for marketing? Today we unpack how VSA Partners is helping brands enter Web3, the Metaverse, and NFTs. In this episode, Ariadna Navarro, Chief Strategy Officer, and Sarah Lent, Chief Marketing Officer, will explain how Web3 is changing the game in branding, and marketing, and how companies can position themselves now to benefit over the next decade. Ari & Sarah are at the forefront of helping brands move into Web3 and position their companies for tomorrow. I know you’re going to get a ton of value out of this interview! 

VSA Partners

Chicago – New York – San Francisco

VSA Partners is a hybrid brand strategy and design agency. We combine strategic consulting with design-driven experiences to solve business problems and realize the future of a brand. With offices in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, VSA offers a full range of fully integrated capabilities—branding, advertising, data science, and technology—all under one roof. For more than 30 years, we have delivered solutions for business and creative leaders at some of the world’s most respected brands and forward-thinking organizations, including Google, Nike, IBM, Molson, and PepsiCo. VSA was also recently named crypto-solutions company Ripple’s premiere creative partner for the Creator Fund, a $250 million commitment to help indie creators bring their NFT projects to market on the XRP Ledger (XRPL).

Ariadna Navarro 

Chief Strategy Officer at VSA Partners

Ariadna helps clients identify growth potential by identifying the intersection between brand and business strategy, human needs, and customer experience. She oversees a team of 18 strategists at VSA, and uses analytics, experience design, innovation, and brand and business strategy to find unique opportunities for clients from IBM to AT&T. Ariadna is relentlessly curious, whether it’s figuring out the future of Quantum computing or deeply understanding how a new acquisition fits within a company’s portfolio. While solving problems is what drives her, she is particularly passionate about portfolio strategy, brand strategy, and unearthing powerful human insights. Ariadna joined VSA after heading up strategy at Interbrand. She is originally from Venezuela but has called New York home for a very long time.

Sarah Lent 

Chief Marketing Officer at VSA Partners

Sarah leads growth efforts across VSA, including business development, marketing, public relations, brand leadership, content creation, and strategic partnerships. A seasoned marketing executive with 20 years of experience in branding, digital innovation, design, communications, and media, Sarah fosters growth at VSA by combining the rigor of a strategic consulting practice with the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of design. Her career has been fueled by a deep passion for taking emerging technologies and coupling them with world-class creativity to contextualize them in the real world. She continually looks for the leapfrog moments of change and leads with empathy while taking clients on a journey into the unknown. Sarah has lived and worked across several continents, including Australia, South Africa, and the UK, and her career has included work with Interbrand, R/GA, and Essence.

And part of that exploration that we're doing is in partnership with Ripple and their $250 million Creators Fund that will help brands come in, artists, and creators alike to, dip their toes into this new technology.

Here's What We Discussed in Detail in This Interview

[00:01 – 05:39] Opening Segment 

  • Get to know VSA Partners
    • Ariadna Navarro intro
    • Sarah Lent intro
  • Community building for brands


[05:40 – 17:28] How VSA Partners is helping brands

  • Approaching the Metaverse to help brands with community building
  • Things crypto brands need to be careful about
  • First steps for brands to explore entering the Metaverse


[20:45 – 32:40] Who VSA Partners helps

  • Types of brands that VSA helps
  • Marketing trends that involve crypto and blockchain
  • Talking about an ethical mandate for trading platforms
  • Things to come from VSA Partners
  • VSA Partners / Ripple Creator Fund


[39.20 – 39:58] Closing Segment

  • How to reach out to VSA Partners
  • Closing remarks
  • See the links below to know more about Ari, Sarah, and VSA Partners

VSA Partners is welcoming brands to explore web3, Metaverse, & NFTs 


Killer Resources

How To Reach Out To VSA Partners

Final Thoughts

Today’s episode is packed with gold nuggets. Something to consider for your own company, brand, and enterprise is how to “onboard” into Web3 to capture future business and revenue while positioning your organization to thrive in this exciting tech which is transforming the way things are done in terms of branding, marketing, and advertising when trying to receive brand exposure among Web3 and crypto communities.

Share this podcast with a friend or family member, join our newsletter at and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Let me know your thoughts on this episode.

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Crypto Travels Michael


Helping those to navigate the crypto landscape with pinpoint accuracy.

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