You might not be a tech company brand today, but you will be

George Wilkes 2/14/2018

The world is changing and technology is in the drivers seat. Companies are reimagining themselves daily, to stay relevant or seize new market opportunity. If your company has started to ask tough survive or thrive questions have you considered the impact and power of your brand?

The 4th Industrial Revolution. Digital disruption. Digital transformation. Whatever you want to call today’s landscape, it’s real and is changing the face of every industry. Incumbent leaders are watching market share rapidly decline and lean agile startups are taking control overnight.

Today, any established or start-up company has access to low-cost computing power and surrounding services. A disruptive business can be built out of nothing but vision and ambition. Everything is connected, even your socks.. Product categories are changing and business intelligence systems are built with more insights in a year than dreamed of over the past one hundred. These data-driven solutions provide a feeding ground for “the machines” to do our bidding at fractions of the cost and 1,000x faster.

Like Polaroid, those who bury their head in the sand and forcefully resist change are destined for irrelevance. But that is not who you are or why you chose to read this. The writing is on the wall. Adapt or die. Better yet, adapt and flourish. But, as you evolve into a technology business what changes must be made at the brand level?

Brand Darwinism

As human beings we experience life-changing events throughout our time. Those events change who we are, what drives us and how we approach the world. Our core values get called into question. They evolve, harden or get replaced. Brands are no different.

Companies with their heads up are starting to ask themselves the tough questions. Who are we? Why do we exist? How are we different? What do we value? Who needs us? They are having an identity crisis, looking for new meaning in a new world.

These types of questions cannot be put on the backburner for a later day. And, they certainly cannot be taken lightly. Consider living without an identity. Without a purpose or guiding principles. Every encounter would yield a sense of uncertainty. Every ad-hoc decision would be based on external influence. You would be pulled in every-which-way with no rhyme or reason to being. As a company, your brand strategy provides a direction. It allows for you to make decisions based on something real and sound. Something to rally behind. It’s a guide to your digital transformation.

½ cup of blockchain. 2 tbs of AI. A dash of cloud. Voila! You’re a digital business.

The brand should always drive the technology. Not the other way around. Companies can quickly find themselves searching for relevancy through the lens of the next sexy tech trend. Without the guardrails of a brand identity the organization will waste time and resources on solutions that causes market confusion and do not align to the greater vision of the organization.

A strong brand identity allows for companies to evaluate technology solutions against a shared vision. Having already worked through the hard questions upfront your company can arm itself with modern tools to deliver on the brand promise. Whether it’s for empowering employees, or acquiring customers, your company is now making decisions with purpose and conviction. The level of risk associated with making a technology decision decreases, because you already understand why you are making the decision to begin with.

Lead with the promise, not the product

It is too easy to get wrapped up in the speeds and feeds of new technology solutions or products. It’s like a price war, but the currency is bits, IOPS, CPUs, certs, protocols, capacity…yadda, yadda, yadda.

Like computing resources from the cloud, technology solutions will reach a point of abundance. Brands will not be able to compete by saying they have X,Y,Z technology driving their solution. Everyone can catch-up quickly by deploying something similar. Where brands draw their uniqueness will be on the services, experience, culture and values they offer their customers. It is the brand promise evoking emotional attachment to the brand, not the technology underpinning how you deliver it.

Standing by your brand

Logo, taglines and marketing messages do not a brand make. When your company redefines itself by asking hard existential questions it must consider the organizational impact. Technology can be used as a tool to help reinforce the new brand identity. Consider how your newly defined brand can now use the right technology tools to influence the following:

  • Customer experience
  • Employee engagement
  • Culture
  • Talent acquisition
  • Revenue streams
  • Operations
  • Human resources

As you embark on transforming your business model don’t forget to ask the hard questions. Stay true to the core promise made to your customers, your employees, and anyone who emotionally invested in your brand. Change is imminent. Will you flourish or perish?

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