Two of the sessions I attended on Monday at SxSW were “Digital Natives – Teen Talk” and “Humanizing Digital.” And honestly, the key takeaways regarding how brands should and can impact your life seemed contradictory. For example, a Gen Z student being paneled said, “Brands aren’t people and everybody knows it… don’t encroach on my space,” whereas marketers are rapidly trying to figure out “how can we become more human and change the way people think?”
At a first blush, you might think these statements are contradictory. But really, they’re just two sides of the same coin saying the same thing. It’s not about turning a brand into a human. It’s about using technology to help brands emulate the attributes that make humans so unique. Rather than using technology to interfere with people’s lives, we need to use technology to deliver on a real human need. As one panelist, Google’s Head of Strategic Planning, said during the discussion, it’s “not about technology for the sake of technology…it’s about identifying how technology can support people. And it doesn’t always have to be complicated.”
As a strategist who lives and breathes both brand and digital, it was refreshing to hear that chasing the latest technology (even if it is very cool) isn’t always the best thing for your brand, or for people. It served as a healthy reminder as we continue to see more innovations enter into the world that we must always ask ourselves, what and why is this relevant to our audience?