On the surface, building a strong brand could not be simpler: stay true to the brand promise. But in an era where technology is as complex as it is accessible, delivering on the brand promise is proving to be a bigger challenge. Strong brand performance is no longer just about meeting consumer needs. It is also about having the capacity to be where the conversations are in the digital sphere in real-time.
To stay competitive, brands need the right brand technology tools and foresight into where brand technology is headed. As brand technology grows and evolves, brands are under intense pressure to keep up.
Branding for the times: what is driving the trends in brand technology?
Besides rapid technology advancement, two other factors are driving the continuous evolution of brand technology: changing consumer expectations and behaviors and the ever-expanding range of communication channels.
“With rapidly advancing technology and an ever-increasing selection of tools, the only way brands can keep up is to set up a future-proof brand technology ecosystem.”
Today’s consumers expect an influx of relevant content. And they have no reservations about scrutinizing these materials to the smallest detail. They demand accuracy, fairness, transparency, accountability, and authenticity from brands. Thanks to the easy access to communication channels, they are unafraid to call out brands that don’t fulfill their promise or display questionable behavior. These new communication channels have also created a sense of communal thinking among consumers, raising the stakes for brands.
What, then, can we expect from brand technology in the immediate future?
On the one hand, we can expect to see more of the same brand technology solutions we have seen in the last decade: tools designed to help brands create and distribute more personalized marketing content through relevant channels.
On the other hand, we can also expect these solutions to be faster, smarter, and more precise. They are designed to cut back repetitive tasks and enable teams to create content with minimal assistance from IT resources. Many processes will be automated. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also play a more prominent role in these new tools’ functionalities. AI’s image-recognition capacity, for example, will make it easier to search, label, and sort thousands of photos or identify duplicates down to the pixel level in seconds.
Essential brand technology tools for future-proof brand management
Organizations need to equip their teams with the right tools that can support their brand management strategies, particularly in the areas of asset creation, asset organization and management, asset distribution, and performance measurement:
- Digital Asset Management (DAM). Brands are already dealing with an astronomical volume of content, and they are continuously creating more to stay relevant. This equates to a larger quantity of assets that need to be constantly managed and updated. That is why a smarter Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is imperative to efficiently manage and update these ever-increasing quantities of assets. The DAM stores, manages, categorizes, and updates all brand assets. It is also the easiest and safest way to access brand assets and share them with internal and external collaborators.
- Web-to-publish. The speed and efficiency with which branded materials — both digital and print — are created is more crucial than ever. Content creation typically requires the use of multiple tools and the collaboration of various teams, making it both costly and time-consuming. This is where web-to-publish tools come in handy. Web-to-publish tools, like template management software, make the creation and re-use of branded assets easier and more efficient by letting brands: (1) create materials that meet the brand’s standards; (2) create materials swiftly; and (3) create assets with minimal design- and IT-skill.
- Brand performance metrics. Having more options to connect with target groups also means more channels that require constant monitoring. To create content in tune with the relevant audience, brands need tools that measure and provide insight into brand performance (i.e., brand presence, brand interest, brand appreciation, and brand engagement).
How can brands keep up?
With rapidly advancing technology and an ever-increasing selection of tools, the only way brands can keep up is to set up a future-proof brand technology ecosystem. Besides choosing tools based on vendor reliability, price points, and the specifics of functionality, there are two other key factors to consider:
- Best-of-breed tools. Brand technology tools are categorized as either the best-of-suite or the best-of-breed. Best-of-suite tools can be best described as the jack-of-all-trades of tools, packing multiple functionalities into a single platform. While it sounds like the best option for performing various tasks, it is important to remember that these tools are designed for quantity over quality. While they perform more tasks, they are not usually the best or most efficient at any of the specific functionalities they offer. Best-of-breed tools are designed to excel at the one functionality they offer. They are more likely to give satisfying, error-free results for far less effort than their best-of-suite counterparts.
- Integration capability. Poor tool integration leads to technology silos that can slow down processes and cause issues ranging from data gaps to increased operational costs. Organizations must take a critical look at the ease with which new tools can be integrated with the other tools.
There is no question about the importance of keeping pace with developments in brand technology to improve brand performance, but no matter how advanced the tool is – there’s no substitute for consistently delivering on the brand’s promise.
Image by: Thirdman