Through the whole my experience at SXSW, I kept confirming what has become the essence of branding—companies grow their businesses by interacting with people.
Crafting the Experience
As Paul Gaudio, Global Creative Director of adidas said, brands are getting more personalized and should be transitioning from “production” to “craft” with new technology. adidas has redefined its brand concept and become more innovative by keeping its DNA central to its new strategy. Katie Dill, Head of Experience Design for Airbnb emphasized the importance of the sequence of experience—emphasizing the connectivity of each touchpoint through both online and offline contexts, rather than attending to them individually. This is critical to making employees happy and creating equity for the employees and their partners. The importance of the “experience”—what people feel and share—is becoming more prevalent than ever, as Brian Solis, Principal Analyst for the Altimeter Group pointed out as well.
Partners in Personalization
How do brands become experience brands? Often, not alone. In a session titled “Now, we are hardware company,” L’Oreal mentioned that it has redefined its business, fulfilling its promise of personalization by bringing in new technologies. It’s utilizing wearable technology—a UV skin patch that monitors sun exposure—and furthering R&D efforts in collaboration with other companies. In the IBM Cognitive Studio, the company showcased the potential of its AI technology, Watson, in developing a new cognitive coaching system with Under Armour that combines personal, physiological, and behavioral data with nutrition, training, and environmental factors. More and more, we will see such cross-industry collaborations creating more personalized experiences for customers.
A huge number of companies at SXSW have deployed VR technology in order to communicate their brand propositions to customers. McDonald’s VR game attracted long queues to its lounge all day. Gillette deployed a thrilling VR experience for its antiperspirant product, Gillette Clinical. By simulating sweat-inducing situations—from canyon swinging to slack lining—Gillette emphasized the real-life applications of its product.
Making it Meaningful
But it’s not just about creating experiences, it’s about creating effective experiences. SAP utilized VR headsets to present its new “Analytics Reimagined” cloud-based analytics service, which makes the VR experience more impactful. HP also presented the “Today’s Reality,” demonstrating how AR technology impacts marketing activities in a big way. It will definitely be important for all companies to figure out how they can embed these technologies (and ones that will emerge in the near future) to keep their DNA, expand into new fields, and create new brand experiences that will be felt and shared by the people they hope to reach.