Bitcoin is freedom. Bitcoin is unwieldy. Bitcoin is financial self-sufficiency. Bitcoin is a statement. Independent Currencies is intimately aware of the brand of Bitcoin, and how to design for the world’s original cryptocurrency.
Tom Badley, director of Independent Currencies, has over a decade of experience in fiduciary design for the world’s first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. This unique experience has been a persistent inquiry into the visual evolution of crypto, and has generated unique insights that inform all Independent Currencies’ Bitcoin-related design.
“All of crypto is a fascinating case study of how visual language develops around new forms of money. From humble beginnings, a brand wants to be wanted, and self-consciously reaches for acceptance. As it enters mainstream consciousness, its visual communication grows in confidence. Logos becomes simplified, forms are truncated, and we find more expedient ways of telling its story. But none of this applies to banknote design, which is an endeavour in escalating detail, richness and complexity. The visual simplification of brands over time also might not apply to Bitcoin, which isn’t just a new currency, but a completely new form of money. As the world continues to ask “what is Bitcoin?!”, its visual lexicon expands to reach for an answer. In return, the answers come in the form of a collection of symbols and design strategies that seem to intuitively reach deeper into the essence of Bitcoin.”
Designing for Bitcoin is all about the balance between the cryptocurrency’s two sides: libertarian underground currency, and dependable, stable ‘digital gold’. Both sides of Bitcoin’s character were instilled from the very beginning. Over the course of Tom’s work, his projects have played with these two sides, in varying degrees, for various purposes. Some projects are designed to be unapologetic statements of Bitcoin’s controversy, whilst others are designed to make Bitcoin friendly, fun, and approachable.
Every project reflects Independent Currencies’ core principles:
1) Authentic banknote design is a familiar visual cue that signifies value.
2) Cash is the most unencumbered, familiar, and easy to use form of money available.
3) Cryptocurrency suffers from a terrible onboarding experience, whilst cash is easily obtainable.
This is what authentic banknote design can offer Bitcoin: familiarity, ease of use, and cold storage in paper from. A range of options are available to pair cash with Bitcoin - from hidden QR codes to embedded chips. Each has its uses and advantages, depending on the context.