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Why technology is vital for brand

27th February 2024

When we talk about brand, technology isn’t generally the first thing that springs to mind. Brand is, more often than not, considered to belong to the realm of “creatives”.

However, without touching on the levels of “creativity” required to conceive of and build the applications and services our modern world runs on today, we’ll spend some time looking at why technology is crucial to the success of a brand.

Technology tools are ubiquitous in our lives and day-to-day work, so we’ll take it as read that technology plays a role in crafting a brand, but once that brand lives and breathes, what critical role does technology play in ensuring its growth and prosperity?

Starting with a grandiose analogy, technology is to brand what “organisation” was to the Roman Empire: an enabler of massive growth and innovation or, when overstretched or ill-conceived, a potential cause of damage. In this way we can see that technology is an amplifier for brand, in both positive and negative directions.

Let’s continue with this handy framing and look at some examples of positive and negative impacts on brand facilitated by the duplicitous technology and see exactly why it is so crucial to the fundamental success of a brand.

Technology is to brand what organisation was to the Roman Empire: an enabler of massive growth and innovation or, when overstretched or ill-conceived, a potential cause of damage.

Positive impact

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall” – Marcus Aurelius

The words of Marcus Aurelius ring true for every good brand operating today. What you say matters. But so too does how you say it – and crafting and broadcasting brand messages, communicating brand personality and demonstrating brand principles are all enabled through skilled use of technology.

It’s often helpful to look at brands in terms of component parts, something we love doing in the tech space. Lets consider a brand as having physical and non-physical properties. In the physical space we have written, visual and auditory assets and capabilities; in the non-physical space we have experience, behaviour and embodiment components.

When we break it all down like this, we can start to see how technology can play key roles in supporting brand, primarily in distribution, governance and implementation.

Let’s consider a brand as having physical and non-physical properties. In the physical space are written, visual and auditory assets and capabilities, in the non-physical space we have experience, behaviour and embodiment components. 

In the physical space, distribution, governance & implementation is really about moving the assets that support our brand around effectively and efficiently, ensuring that whenever and wherever our brand needs to be referenced it’s being done so using the frame that countless hours and much effort went into establishing, and furthermore ensuring that those mechanisms are doing this work in such a way that supports our desired brand. I’m fairly confident in saying that few brands would say that keeping a customer waiting (to view an image of their logo) is in line with their brand message and values.

This is achieved through:

  • Style guides & pattern libraries: Collections of branded design elements, designed to ensure consistent reuse of brand and brand assets across websites and other digital systems.
  • DAMs (Digital Asset Management Systems): Systems for storing, distributing and governing digital brand assets.
  • CDNs (Content delivery networks): Systems designed to place your assets at physical server locations as close to the end user as possible. The real-world proximity of the server to the end user has a direct impact on the speed that assets can be presented to the user.
  • Marketing hubs: Systems designed to provide branded marketing assets, guidance and training to brand partners, distributors and other interested parties.

In the non-physical space we’re really talking about communicating and enabling those representing our brand to do so in line with our expectations. Technology enables this by providing ways to up-skill and support those people representing our brand. Learning tools, managed communication systems, and again asset management, consider a Tone of Voice document.

This can be achieved through use of:

  • LMS (Learning Management Systems): Systems to create, deliver and track completion of learning resources.
  • Scripted call centre systems: Smart systems that guide support operatives through various conversational flows based on the real time conversation they’re currently involved in.

When these systems are in place, well implemented and well managed, we can create a robust, well-oiled machine through which we can ensure that our brand is carried through to all digital touch points.

Negative impact

Because no story would be complete without a cautionary tale, let’s look at one now. Ticketmaster, the global purveyor of all things live entertainment, suffered some very serious brand damage at the hands of technology.

“He who is not a good servant will not be a good [Ticket]master” – Plato

It should go without saying that poor customer service is detrimental to a brand. I’m sure we’ve all sworn off a company after a bad experience, and possibly still warn others off said company to this day.

Customer service used to be fairly linear, and all about the human touch – direct customer contact. Nowadays, the number of touchpoints between customer and brand has grown and much of that increased surface area is digital. It’s perhaps for this reason that we’re seeing a move from ‘customer service’ to the increased use of ‘customer experience’ as a more appropriate term.

Now, back to our cautionary tale…

It’s November 2022. Having selected Ticketmaster as her exclusive ticket sales partner, Taylor Swift is set to launch the pre-sales of the US leg of her ridiculously highly anticipated Eras Tour. It’s fair to say this was one of the most visible tour launches in history. Droves of her fans were hoping for an experience they’d never forget. And they got one. A bad one. An unforgettably bad customer experience.

What followed wasn’t Ticketmaster’s finest moment: website outages, fans being booted from queues, cancelled sales and the resulting Twitter storm of frustration – delivered by panicked, angry Swiftie acolytes.

The damage of this incident to Ticketmaster and its brand cannot be overstated. The narrative that Ticketmaster finds itself still dealing with, is one of incompetence, poor planning, and bad implementation, rather than one that focuses on the fact that it helped Ms. Swift sell 2.4 million tickets in one day, an all-time record.

What will people remember about Swiftie Ticketmaster-gate? Incompetence, technology failures and a terrible customer experience.

What will no one remember? That it helped sell 2.4 million TS tickets in one day – an all-time record.

Still think technology isn’t all that important to brand?

To rub salt into the wound, the blunder and increased exposure has kicked off a series of events that has resulted in a class action lawsuit brought by Taylor Swift fans and a Federal antitrust investigation into monopolistic practices. To further kick the downed Ticketmaster and its salted wound, parent company Live Nation suffered a 17% slide in stock valuation in the two weeks following the incident.

To further kick the downed TicketMaster and its salted wound, parent company Live Nation suffered a 17% slide in stock valuation in the two weeks following the incident.

Scale, scale, scale!

Let’s cut Ticketmaster a little slack and have a look at the heavy site traffic driven by the “astronomical” demand of legions of Taylor Swift fans desperate to snag tickets. Ticketmaster reported 3.5 million users registering for the pre-sale programme, a large number. Compare this with Semrush’s list of most trafficked pages on the web and the number pales in comparison with Google’s 18.11 billion visitors in December 2022. A little calculation shows that the infrastructure in place at Google would likely have dealt with this demand … and probably does daily.

(18,011,000,000 /31) / 24) = 24,208,333

Google approx hits per hour: 24.2 million

Whilst high website traffic and the strain on Ticketmaster’s infrastructure are clearly what kicked off this series of events, it was avoidable. I don’t work for Ticketmaster so I have no insight into where the failing was, but I’d be very surprised if the team responsible for setting up the autoscaling rules had a full understanding of the scale of potential impact of this type of incident, as the cost to add the extra resources to cope with load will have been pence on the pound to the cost of the damage.

Conclusion

Brand is inescapably dependent on technology in our modern world, it requires it, to live, breathe and survive. If a brand falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

If you’re responsible for your brand, you need to understand the myriad ways that technology can help it grow and develop, but just as importantly you need to understand the various technologies at play in your world and what unique risk management considerations they might represent.

I’ll finish on another pithy analogy: technology is fire, it can light your way, bring you and your brand out of the stone age and provide warmth and safety. But, don’t drop the match or it’ll

Burn. Your. House. To. The. Ground!

Need help building your brand?

Whether you need advice or support with positioning, visual identity, a digital refresh, or all of the above, we’re here to help. Get in touch and book a free consultation today.

Email: [email protected]

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About Proctor + Stevenson

Game-changing strategy, creative and technology that means more impact for your marketing. And more power to your business.

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