Hi, Alexa, how’s my branding?

Alexa, help me navigate my company thru the chaotic, digital revolution before somebody disrupts us out of business, and oh, what’s the weather in London?

First, Siri, then Alexa, then Echo and Google Now. Get ready to say hello to hundreds of digital assistants and connected devices. Your smart phone, thermostat, automobile, fridge, running shoes and bathroom scale are now marketing tools – or will be by tomorrow morning.

Brands in the digital revolution are dealing with a daunting set of innovations. Besides the Internet of Jabbering Things, there are plenty of challenging questions. Artificial Intelligence is so cool – how can we jump on that? What’s my brands strategy for tapping VR? Do we need an augmented reality experience? What’s my Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat plan? This is the Wild West of opportunity.

At a time when brands live fast and die faster, we think it’s essential to distinguish tactics from strategy. A technology, a platform, a device or channel — these are tactics. Yes, brands have to be cutting edge, experiential and cool but strategy is the illumination that guides the way. Otherwise the result is a grab-bag of one-off executions that confuse more than delight.

In their report, “Digital Innovation: Surviving The Next Wave of Change” our partner YouGov presented a road map for prospering in this digital revolution. One of the many statistics they cite is that in a world where the internet — and technology — is everywhere, consumers feel even more overwhelmed by information.

This trend is dramatized by the swift rise in digital assistant like Alexa that function as our back-up brains to deal with all this chaos. (It’s also why, as YouGov noted, that in the digital era, emotional messages are stronger than rational – we’re already drowning in the factual.)

Brand strategy is the fix for this data overload. When there’s strategic clarity and focus, you know which new technologies will tell your story in the right way. You can be intelligent and intentional about which of these new experiences to create for people. Know your brand and the new tactics become obvious.

In 2015, the digital economy accounted for 22% of the world’s economy. The revolution is all accelerator, no brakes. The message in all this is brands should approach technology with a purpose. Whether it’s VR, AR, IoT or wearables, strategy is what gives these exhilarating new tools a reason for being. The alternative is to become tactical and reactive, a digital tail wagging a digital dog. Even Alexa knows that’s just not cool.

 

Please find the full report here.