Non-fungible tokens: opportunities for packaging design

Who’d have thought that an animated flying cat leaving a rainbow trail would become the next big thing at auction?

Nyan Cat, also known as Pop Tart Cat, is an 8-bit animation depicting a cat with the body of a cherry Pop-Tart flying through outer space with a Japanese song playing in the background. Naysayers who thought Nyan Cat memes were a flash in the pan were in for a rude awakening when a Nyan Cat meme sold for $600,000 in 2014.

In March the same year, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first Tweet "just setting up my twttr" was auctioned off for $2.5 million with the proceeds going to charity. Crazy!

What do these have in common? Well, neither item actually exists in the physical world. Their value has soared due to the popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), an up-and-coming technology that’s taking the world by storm.

Still not sure what non-fungible tokens are? If you’re a brand looking to reach tech-savvy consumers, they might be the answer to your prayers. In this blog post, we’ll consider how brands can use NFTs to enhance packaging and boost marketing.

Fungible or non-fungible?

In the same way that your fingerprint is unique, a non-fungible token certifies a digital asset as unique as well. Such an asset could be a video file, a document, or any other type of file. You can easily store these files on a blockchain, and have them assigned a non-fungible token to ensure that they're not interchangeable.

There are two types of tokens: fungible tokens and non-fungible tokens. Fungible tokens are all equal, divisible, and interchangeable. They’re often referred to as cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets. Non-fungible tokens, on the other hand, are individual, unique assets.

Different than the standard tokens, Non-fungible tokens are digital files that carry unique, verifiable signatures and increasingly used to verify ownership of an asset, photo, photo album, document, piece of code, song, video, post on a social media website, or anything else that can be stored digitally.

Every token has a special feature: its metadata. Think of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) like the modern-day mint condition rookie baseball card. NFTs are unique codes that serve as certificates of authenticity representing a piece of art, like a piece of music or video clip, made by an artist. With NFTs, you can own something that just wasn’t possible before.

Early adopters

Non-fungible assets are growing in popularity among businesses as well as celebrities, with artists and start-ups alike jumping on the field to create yet more creative uses for these unique digital art assets.

Adidas and supermodel Karlie Kloss joined forces with digital fashion company The Fabricant. Together, they created a version of the Wind.RDY Parka Jacket from the Adidas x Karlie Kloss line in digital form. This initiative challenges creators to come up with their own digital interpretations of the actual clothing. A ConsenSys-backed company called KnownOrigin hosted a blockchain-based auction to showcase the best designs on the platform with the top twenty designs will be chosen by industry experts, and then put up for auction.

Grammy-winning musician Mos Def and his label Quarantine partnered with Carbon, an EV charging company, to launch Un-Charge, a digital art collection that allows collectors or creators to personalise their EV charging station and pallet. The artwork consists solely of custom designed graphics that allow you to digitally add artworks to your charging station in the form of physical objects. The artwork can even have a lifespan based on your driving habits. Consumers can add their own graphics and make the branding entirely their own.

Brands like Nike and HauteLook have also hopped aboard the NFT craze — using the blockchain technology to inspire new and innovative marketing campaigns. As more and more companies delve into this space, new opportunities for NFTs and their new advertising potential will emerge — whether it's cross-promotion, customer retention, or brand recognition.

Brand opportunities

NFTs are about to go mainstream. A lot of big brands, like Nike and Disney, are developing their own non-fungible tokens for their products. They're already popular with consumers, serving as digital commemoratives that remember memorable gaming moments or the locations where they were collected. They're also viable alternatives to traditional collectibles that can be traded or sold to other buyers.

Some brands, especially luxury brands, thrive on scarcity. They try to establish their uniqueness in every way possible, and non-fungible tokens can be a perfect medium for it. Gucci is looking to become the first major high-end brand to embrace the technology as a way to develop a one-of-a-kind digital art collection.

The right NFT campaign can open a brand to a previously untapped audience. The non-fungible token isn't just a gimmick — it's a real tool that will help businesses reach their customers in new and exciting ways. With its immutability, a well-developed NFT campaign keeps its value in the long term and keeps fans engaged with their favourite brands.

Opportunities include;

  • Delivery of experience-focused, memorable, and valuable brand experiences for customers
  • Creation of hype before events and product launches with provision of early access tokens
  • Opening up the floodgates to a new type of brand storytelling - rare and exclusive collectible assets are a great way of doing this
  • Monetisation of advertising campaigns - with the help of non-fungible tokens, customers could potentially own a piece of a brand's history in the making. Similar to when someone buys an original work of art, like a Picasso
  • Rewarding consumer-driven ideas - brands like Starbucks and P&G, for example, have long been sourcing product ideas and feedback from consumers. Now, co-creators can own a share in the final outputs in exchange for their contribution

Opportunities for packaging

What if your packaging design was one of a kind? How would that affect your product's appeal?

While NFTs have traditionally been associated with collectibles like crypto kitties, they can also be used for brand assets and packaging. Imagine a product designed to be developed into an artwork that’s shipped to you, complete with a customisable name, date of creation, location and storage capacity. No two users would ever use the same item, allowing consumers the right to express their individualised identity. In this way, a creator’s unique identity can live on indefinitely

Campbell Soup Company celebrated the launch of its new can design with its first-ever custom NFT, created in collaboration with street art illustrator Sophia Chang. Art fans everywhere now have the opportunity to opt for a unique and quirky wall art piece by selecting one of six different signature can designs and customizing it with their own name.

Taco Bell's NFT Taco Art features a rotating selection of limited-edition artwork from emerging artists. The Taco Bell Foundation will receive 100 percent of sales profits from the limited-edition box set, which was inspired by Andy Warhol, René Magritte, and Ed Ruscha. The box set's proceeds will fund grants that award students who are passionate about pursuing their career paths.


Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are still relatively new but exciting because they open up a whole world of possibilities for brands. Beyond game collectibles and digital art, these tokens can represent virtual-world property items and even change the way we market and package consumer goods.

Technology is an ever-changing creature — and while some innovations seem redundant, we can't live without them. Social media was once considered a passing fad — but if you tried to avoid it, you'd never find your next new packaging format or business partner. Brands that embrace the changing face of technology will be the ones truly ahead of the curve. Of course, NFT is still in its infancy, but its promise is already considerable and it gives brand owners benefits they have never seen before.

If Andy Warhol were born in this century, there's a good chance he would have nailed Campbell's Soup as an NFT. Budweiser might look to offer NFTs of their original pack artwork one day.

None of those things will be possible until we see the widespread use of non-fungible tokens within branded packaging— and that's something we're getting closer to every day.