Meet the New Branders
At SolutionSet, we talk a lot about how brands are changing and the role of technology in that change. While traditionalists contend that brands are still defined at the head end by advertising and design, we believe technology has changed that story. We also think there is precedent for this change.
Thirty years ago, companies (retailers, restaurant chains, hotels, banks, etc.) would hire a team of architects, contractors, and interior designers to build their properties. Neither these people nor their services were seen as fundamental to the brand. Forward-thinking companies, however, understood that the experience inside their store was a hugely influential part of their brand. Environmental branding companies emerged to fill this void and design in-store experiences that strengthened the brand. Environmental branders understood that the experience was not just visual, but auditory, aromatic, and sensory.
Architecting the physical experience of the brand served two functions.
1) For some companies, environmental branding was about having control over the brand experience all the way to the time of purchase. Niketown and Apple Stores are two good examples of this.
2) For other companies, environmental branding was about increasing total revenue and gross margin. A well designed physical experience encourages purchasing and repeat visits. Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, W Hotels, and Washington Mutual are good examples of this.
Does anyone really believe the examples above do not have a huge impact on those companies’ respective brands?
What happened offline thirty years ago is happening online today. In the late 90s, a digital brand was defined solely by the look of the company’s website. Today, the picture is much more complex. A brand is defined just as much, if not more so, by how a consumer interacts with information and one another. And all of these interactions – from information gathering to purchasing to customer support — are all increasingly technology driven.
Enter the brand technologist.
Brand technologists understand how to architect the rich interactive experiences that drive our online behavior. The brand technologist weaves the visual brand into rich interfaces, personalization tools, communities, social networks, web services, and search engines. Companies increasingly understand that technologists are a fundamental part of their brand team and that the online experience is every bit as important as the offline experience.
If you want to learn more about how technology is changing your brand, I may know a company who can help