BrandingOpinion

Discover how brands can beat digital autism

Opinion: digital autism

Vision, an event for those working in creative industries, was held in Bristol last week. AKQA’s European head of tech Ben Jones stole the show with his take on the biggest problem facing brands today: digital autism.

Digital autism is across everything, it’s where we are right now with the experiences that everyone is trying to deliver from a digital point of view. Whether something is on a website or a mobile device, it’s hard to gain an emotional connection. Quite often other than using interaction design it’s flat content. You can’t even evoke true emotional connection through beautiful design since Flash became less popular, the interactivity isn’t there anymore. Other technologies have spanned that gap quickly, but not enough to fully connect.

A human has five senses and no brand is really appealing to all those senses. They can only really concentrate on only one, which is sight. A consumer is looking into the phone, but it’s not looking out at you, so there’s no true emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.

Making an emotional connection

Everyone likes a story and the best storytellers change their stories as they have interaction with another human. So in a world where there’s so much brand messaging going on and apps to download, the next step is to really drive that connection through some kind of emotional connection.

If we can create that, we can really pull it back to how humans operate as people. People want relationships, not just push content and it’s how advances in technology can change that.

Brands, and even agencies as well, want to stay in their comfort zones. The way forward is about evoking emotion as much as possible through content. It’s about taking that step change to make sure that you’re spending money in some of the more standard places: technology, data and understanding the consumer in a very different way.

It’s the barrier of mind-set change that is going to be the key. Brands need to understand how to access the consumer from a data point of view, and really try to think about how to use this to deepen the experience.

Beat digital autism with data

It starts with romancing the idea of data, without talking about data or showing it.  Take the Launch of the Nike Fuel band. Ultimately it’s about collecting data but we could not just show that. We romanced it.

We did a project for Nike at London’s Boxpark shopping centre which was all about activity: instead of consumers just using a manual to use the Nike+ Fuel Band, AKQA created a motion-tracked installation where consumers can see a life-size, digitized reflection on an LCD wall that reacts to movement. Using generative particle animation the 3D visualization transformed from red to green depending on how much movement is being captured. The more a user moves, the more Nike Fuel they earn. And people are stepping into that space.

But this sort of thinking needs to become mainstream. Technology is on the cusp of changing everything and brands need the people who understand the opportunities.

Brands can overcome this digital autism with data. There is so much insight, not just structured and location data, but the concepts of social and sentiment within that and what people are truly saying. So it’s about focusing on data and what you can do with it. Turning it into information. Actionable information.

Imagine spending your marketing budget on understanding the sentiment within sentences, not just words but actual sentences, it gives you so much more of a story and true meaning about what consumers are saying. It’s about understanding that analysis and believing those insights.

Progression in technology

A lot companies won’t want to listen to those truths because they may hurt. But if they do truly listen, they can change and become more competitive through adaption of experiences and delivering relevant experiences, relevant content, relevant conversation to the consumer.

Making brands truly relevant to a consumer is the next phase, and to do that we need to look at the existing and emerging technologies which are out there. There are some phenomenal companies which are looking at the progressions in technology, right down to cognitive analysis.

So for brands it’s about putting your scouts out there and finding out what’s available and experimenting with these in small ways. It’s about the brief to the agency: what can we find within the data we have or can collect? What technologies enable us to connect? It’s finally about hiring a new breed of person. A person who can understand data, garner insight in and information which will be the life line of brands in the future.

  • ABOUT VISION

The ultimate in creative collaboration, Vision 2012 saw the best in the creative industry gather together to share knowledge, insight and experience. With other high profile speakers such as Dan Germain, Head of Creative at Innocent Drinks, and Carla Buzasi, Editor of Huffington Post, Vision gives delegates an opportunity to gain insight into the next level of creative thinking, by hearing first-hand what is shaping the future digital landscape and the opportunities that will be created.

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