Digital Transformation Must Keep Brands Human

Digital Transformation Must Keep Brands Human

Brand marketers and strategists love buzzwords and catch phrases. I guess it helps keep us grounded or feeling that we’re on trend. Take for example the buzz phrases from the past four years.
The phrase in 2012 was growth hacking. Then in 2013 it was information jamming. Enter 2014 and it became about the customer decision journey and customer experience. Last year it was all about programmatic. Enter 2016 and disruption is on everyone’s minds. So what are we as brand marketer’s talking about a lot as 2017 approaches?

Digital transformation.

Many legacy companies didn’t invest in areas of business where the world has been moving for the past twenty years, playing it safe, thinking digital, social, mobile, VR and AI will just go away. They also haven’t learned that in the 21st Century, it’s not just about technology but humanity. Brands that treat customers like a bank wire service are in for a rude awakening. There are tons of choices out there and many more coming. Your legacy brand arrogance isn’t helping.

Because of this tech debt, many brands are now playing catch up, worried they may be cast into the bin of irrelevance forever.

So many have invested heavily in website overhauls, partnerships with technology companies, mobile infrastructure upgrades, marketing analytics and more.

While it is undoubtedly important for brands to be where customers are, engage with them and learn from them, I sense many will fail in 2017 because they are committing an ultimate sin in their rush to stay relevant and survive.

Their company cultures aren’t shifting even though they are embracing digital transformation as a technological necessity.

You see, digital transformation isn’t just about technological upgrades. It isn’t merely embracing the cloud. It isn’t about frictionless experiences. It is also about cultural mind shift, realignment of mindset and not planning but living in the here and now like the future is here.

This is a difficult task for brands. Many will say how they are inventive or innovative because they had AI create their latest brand video or because they used a chatbot in Facebook Messenger to show how customers can engage with their brand.

Meanwhile, customers looking to do everything within a brand app experience will be frustrated that brands haven’t thought about the UX because they’ve been too busy paying attention to the technological side of the spectrum rather than the behavioral side of the equation. Brands talking about transformation, we will soon find out, will be discovered to still pay their female employees less, pollute the environment and give social media to the interns to handle.

The 21st Century brand can’t just plug into digital and think that’s enough to transform. Maybe we need to restate that catchphrase so brands can realize the urgency they are under to perform based on the customer point of view having a majority of the power in our new creative age.

Brands need to undergo TRANSFORMATION if they are to survive past 2020. Forget it being just about digital. Those who think it’s just about the technology will be rightfully abandoned for a dehumanizing customer experience.

So, while it is important for brands to enhance their technical aspects for customers, those customers still expect a human experience. They don’t want to be treated like a robot even if you’re front and backend operations are becoming more automated.

Don’t get lost in a race to transform to be digital. Anyone can be that now with the right investments. It’s the few elite who remain human in this transformation who will be the true champions of tomorrow and possibly forever.

Learn how to keep your brand relevant in the 21st Century in my new book Disruptive Marketing.

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