The evolving relationship between technology and emotion
Alexis Sitaropoulos, Marketing Director of Youth Travel at Contiki Holidays said, “Millennials look at you strangely if you talk about a ‘digital’ or a ‘social’ channel because, to them, it’s just life.” Internet isn't separate to our everyday lives, we live here now.
In much the same way that the Internet has become a part of life, so concepts like AI, Big-Data, GPUs, VR, NLP, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Deep Text — computer learning — have become embedded in the digital conversation. Digital technology has moved in to the human realm where intelligence, emotion and decision-making have become an expectation.
Andy Brattle of creative agency Beyond explains:
“The ability to move from physical to digital no longer surprises us; in fact we expect it — it enhances our ability to do things quickly, simply and efficiently.”
Facebook is pioneering this level of user experience with Deep Text. Deep Text uses deep neural network frameworks including convolutional and recurrent neural nets to “understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousands posts per second” to improve user experience. As consumers, we are accustomed to being more deeply engaged with digital experiences.
Up close and personal
As the relationship between us and the digital world becomes more complex, brands are better enabled to connect more with their market. Thanks to social media and real-time communication platforms, brand identity is becoming a two-way street. As opposed to exclusively brand-driven content, companies like Contiki and Hiut are letting their customers contribute to the brand story. Like any good relationship, this two-way street creates a sense of belonging and community; an essential feel-good factor.
Despite this climate of increasing digitisation and virtuality, moving forward has become, somewhat ironically, ever more finely tuned to what it is to be human. Brands should look at how to hone in on what makes their customers unique and how to reach them on a more personal level, resulting in more meaningful, long-lasting relationships and ultimately, brand loyalty.
Jack Chalkley, Head Creative Technologist at Knit, helped Welsh specialty denim company Hiut Denim Co. reach their customers on a more intimate level. Combining Spotify, Twitter and Raspberry Pi technology, Hiut let their customers choose the songs that played in the factory where the jeans are made. Using the hashtag #HiutMusic people can suggest tracks that are either accepted or rejected for inclusion in the specially designed factory jukebox.
“This is a perfect example” explains Andy “of a brand understanding their audience.” They crafted an innovative solution that kept the consumer experience front of mind, and also offered ample scope for brand amplification via social channels. “They didn't get distracted by the method. Social media is part of the journey to engage but not the end point.”
Alastair Clark, Race Director at DeadDrop Fitness reveals that the secret ingredient to his success is exercise. Clark explains:
“Exercise results in endorphin release, add social feedback via social media (additional endorphin release) and this results in the ultimate feel-good factor.”
DeadDrop Fitness is a London-based running app with themed, secret missions. Available in runs from 5–15km, this urban adventure app is an excellent example of fitness gamification, with laser focus on the customer who are seeking experiential engagement with technology. Using Facebook combined with the app, DeadDrop can generate anticipation of the event and communicate directly to the user via the app, creating a feedback loop that connects the user and involves them with the product, the brand and the community of other users.
Increasingly, brands are getting better at understanding their market and developing technology that caters directly to them. Andy Brattle feels that “it shouldn't ever be a case of buckling to novelty, but rather taking opportunities that are truly innovative and developing tools that actually serve the consumer and make life better.”
Pzizz and Premier League also show a deep understanding of their target audience and customise their approach accordingly. According to Shifra and Ruth of COIN Research, “People don’t need more data, they need a better outcome”. Pzizz is a highly-customisable app that’s designed to help those suffering from poor sleep. Using neurolinguistic programming, enchanting music, sound effects and binaural beats, users can better fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up at the most beneficial time.
Football fans found the experience of attending a football match complex and stressful. To find a solution, Premier League analysed the user experience and developed an app to help fans negotiate the stress points like parking, traffic and ticketing. Rather than producing an app for the sake of it, digital technology was used to enhance the physical experience.
Andy Brattle is Director at Beyond, a strategic creative agency specialising in feel-good brands.