Has this been done before? It's an honest question that marketers always ask when considering using new technology to tell their stories. Who wants to be a has-been?
But when discussing applying technology to brand experiences, it is not the best question to be asking.
The right question is "Does the new technology help tell a better story about my brand or will the story be about the technology itself?"
The Purpose of Technology
Marketers will be envelope-pushers. Everyone wants to look fresh, exciting, different, and edgy. A new medium to deliver your message says you're a front-runner, constantly thinking how experiences can make an emotional connection to your brand.
A tech-first approach works when the cool factor of the technology furthers the brand conversation, not the technology conversation. A great example of this is when Pepsi Max took over a bus shelter
The above example is case in point of a brand using technology to tell a brand story, turning the mundane routine of waiting for the bus into an fun, imminently shareable and memorable adventure. The message was clear and the consumers' focus was on the experience rather than the technology.
Too many times brands get excited about technology and how to look "cool" and focus on how to implement the technology rather how the technology can tell their brand story.
Success with new technology comes down to strategy and how well the technology delivers against that.
Before making the investment in the untried, untested new technology, or technology at all, make sure you ask the hard questions.
Am I able to use the technology in a way to express my brand attributes?
Don't just jump in the pool because others do. Take your time to assess the capabilities of the technology you are considering. Meet with in-house creatives to develop or seek ways that the technology in question can be used to achieve objectives. If this becomes a cumbersome exercise and you feel you are reaching too deep to make a connection, then the technology application is not right for you.
Will this be difficult for people to use? Is there a labor-intensive cost of entry for consumers?
We live in a world where time is of the essence. Make sure the technology experience is easy to understand and makes an instant connection to consumers. Many times, technology-driven experiences ask consumers to download an app, scan a code, enter in personal information, or send a message to unlock the experience. Consumers today are super-busy, and if you ask too much of them, you will lose their attention.
Have you and your technology partner done all your homework?
Have you properly tested the technology to work in all circumstances, weather, indoor/outdoor, excessive use, etc.? Many times we deploy too early without the proper testing. Ensure you understand where the technology will be deployed, and do extensive testing under any and all conditions that may occur. If the technology has glitches or doesn't work well, your customers may leave frustrated... and with a negative feeling about your brand.
Perhaps the biggest question that needs to be considered is a more prosaic one...
Do you have the resources to use the technology the right way?
Technology does not always mean expensive. However, you need to make sure you have the resources to use the technology the right way. That does not only include financial resources but creative, installation, management, and operations. Do not cut corners; it will only cost you at the end.
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The most important consideration before using new technology is storytelling. When technology, not story, leads the way, the brand can get lost in the "wow" factor. Marketers, proceed with caution. Technology is constantly evolving. There are amazing ways to use technology to tell your brand story, wow consumers, and engage them with your brand.
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- Different Is Better Than Better, Part 2: Sally Hogshead on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- Different Is Better Than Better, Part 1: Sally Hogshead on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- The Top 20 Purpose-Driven Brands
- How to Use Brand-Mapping to Position Your Business