Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei once said of technology:
“Technology is a liberation. I think the information age probably is the best thing to happen to the human race in human evolution. Now you have the equal opportunity to equip yourself through information and knowledge and express yourself as an independent mind.”
The liberation, information access, knowledge consumption and expression formats Weiwei refers to have undoubtedly benefited marketers more than nearly any other profession by virtue of the communication platforms and data streams technology – namely in digital formats – has created.
However, these benefits have come at a price – the unread messages of digitised society – that shed a dark side on the positive facets of digital technology that marketers leverage daily:
- Technology liberates – but now consumers are becoming entrapped by technological devices
- Technology provides information – but also gives access to unwanted pasts
- Technology allows expression – but consumer and brand expression are not governed by the same rules
- You can take consumer’s devices, but you can’t take their freedom
- One brand’s information is another brand’s downfall
- Everyone is equal, but consumers are more equal than brands
So what is the benefit to brands who unpack and act upon these unread messages? In an era where marketers are being pressured to act in a manner that can be perceived as social good, being digitally responsible, at a time where our relationship with technology is under more scrutiny than ever, has the potential to be a leveragable asset. Further to this, respecting a newly transparent society and cross-channel communications consistency creates a clear and positive mental structure of what a brand stands for – more vital than ever in the haze of digital white noise consumers operate in.
In short, brands and marketers must continue to leverage the positive facets of technology Ai Weiwei discusses – but do so in a way that appreciates the unread messages of digital technology and increase the potential to be a force for social good with a clear and consistent identity.
By Jack Miles, Research Director, Northstar Research Partners