When branding met technology: Takeaways from brand smart 2018

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Yesterday’s brand narrative just doesn’t work in today’s marketing landscape. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one factor rises above the rest: technology has changed the game.

New technologies have introduced more sources of value for many companies — as well as more challenges, learning curves, and potential disruptors. To create a brand that resonates with today’s customers, companies must seek out innovative ways to infuse traditional branding with the latest technologies and tactics.

This was exactly the topic up for discussion at AMA Chicago’s Brand Smart 2018 conference. Our Consulting & Engagement team attended Brand Smart to connect with other marketing experts and pick up the latest insights. To help spread the wealth, we’ve collected our top takeaways here.

The Personal Is Powerful

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise, but it can never fully replace human attributes like empathy, creativity, and the ability to connect with others. That’s where marketers can provide big value to their clients: by finding ways to augment machine learning with a human touch.

For example, AI platforms like Bombora track how users consume content, and then allow marketers to target those users based on their preferences. The platform provides the data, but it takes a human touch to leverage those metrics and insights in a marketing campaign.

Honesty Is the Only Policy

In the age of “fake news,” distrust of media is rampant. The annual Edelman Trust Report, reviewed at the Brand Smart conference, shows just how low consumer trust has fallen. It’s important for businesses to use technology responsibly and build a brand that establishes them as trustworthy thought leaders.

Prospects are searching for knowledgeable experts. To build lasting customer relationships, that’s what businesses need to be. Providing thought leadership through white papers, case studies, webinars, and honest business practices will help a business’s branding process come out on top.

Overcome Narrow Thinking

An AI-focused session raised two fascinating examples of how thinking inside the box can damage a brand. One discussed a problem with AI systems like Amazon’s Alexa: these systems can learn to ignore some African-American voices. While this is a technology issue, it has far-reaching lessons for marketers. When assembling creative or a branding strategy, marketers must consider all audiences they hope to reach. A message tailored for one niche segment won’t have the same impact on another.

Another example came from the world of automotive. Australian test-drivers found that the animal detection systems in Volvo’s self-driving cars don’t recognize kangaroos. Volvo’s engineers failed to plan for this because … they’re based in Sweden. Not exactly the land of kangaroos. In our interconnected world, an insular viewpoint can be damaging. Innovative and effective ideas require thinking beyond our habitual thought processes. Additionally, both examples illustrate how a diverse team can positively influence creativity.

Did you attend Brand Smart? We’d love to hear what insights most interested you. Share your personal takeaways in the comments!

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