July 23, 2020 by Sam Molineaux

At a time when customers are reached by multiple touchpoints every day, experts argue that the right content is more important than ever to create brand advocacy. The integration of technology and communication in today’s advertising landscape is imperative and can be the difference between a successful campaign and a failed one.

Advertisements used to spread the word about products and services have been impacted tremendously by technological advances in recent years. A simple culmination of well-chosen words on a page or actors on a TV screen is no longer enough: In our age of short attention spans and saturated markets, brands must find increasingly innovative ways to connect and engage with audiences. Product benefits are a natural selling point for starters, but customers are increasingly looking for, and expecting, more emotive and ethical reasons to buy – all within a shorter and shorter length of time.

With multiple touchpoints now available to the consumer, brands are striving to create seamless storylines that are delivered cohesively across all platforms. And must do so while their target audience is flooded with endless messages from competitors.

During a thought-provoking panel discussion at ISE 2020 moderated by North of 10 Advisors’ founder Jeff Day, several creatives and content marketing experts discussed the new frontiers of branding and audience engagement in what Day terms today’s “experience era.”

Highly creative experiences, impactful stories, lasting messaging, and pioneering technology that marries art and engagement are shattering norms for brand activation and content impact. The opportunities for AV professionals in this space are both exciting and boundless.

High-Profile Experiences

Brands everywhere are seeking the “wow” factor, noted Tamás Vaspori of Maxin10sity, a firm that specializes in projection mapping for elevating clients’ branding and marketing.

“To be remembered, you must create something emotive. A large car manufacturer gave us the words ‘power’ and ‘speed’ as their brief to give the digital artists creative freedom,” he said.

A storyline that emerges from just two words can easily connect users and grab their attention. And as digital technology has cemented itself as a creative messaging platform, a shift from the abstract to succinct messaging across multiple platforms is eminently possible. Some brands get it; for others there’s a learning curve. In terms of AV, the sky’s the limit.

“I think today more and more as we interact with brands, we take for granted a seamless storytelling experience connected across a range of touchpoints — that is really hard to do, ” said Nick Bailey of futurefactor, which develops global campaigns for brands such as Airbnb and media marketing agencies like Mindshare.

“Brands have demanded a higher level of interaction and experience to convey their messages effectively,” said Day. “Not only has this required a greater level of experience from AV professionals, but use technology and mediums that lend themselves specifically to digital artistry.”

Making Stories Stand Out

Building brand separation is the number one way to create an impact. Brands often have a strong set of values that can be used to build a timeline that leaves a lasting impression.

“There is power in understanding the brand ethos and values and being able to get that across through the right mediums,” said Andy Hood of AKQA, a digital agency with 29 offices worldwide and a longstanding relationship with Nike, among other global brands.

Hood recommends a solution-first or problem-first approach to assess precisely what the customer wishes to achieve, using the technologies available to support the solution. “Yes, we want to create this amazing thing, but what is its purpose and who is it for? Once that’s established, we’ll start looking at how to achieve it.”

Once the brief has been established, the creative team and AV specialists can work on putting the puzzle pieces together. By considering the latest technologies and the ways in which these can create amazing experiences, AV technicians can bring to life the vision of digital artists.

“With premium brands, you’ll find they have a clear story that they want to tell, but are looking at association,” said Rob Anders of Niio, a creative display platform. “People need to see technology as an enabler as opposed to a differentiator. We’re seeing a trend where fashion brands, such as Louis Vuitton, are taking their traditional artistic story to new mediums such as VR — reaching their customers while still keeping that premium identity.”

Online Is a Driving Force

As most are aware, esports have exploded in recent years, bringing game culture to the forefront of technological change. Consumers in this space are already familiar with the kind of technology that many brands are moving into and they’re demanding to be consistently spoken to through these mediums in a flawless way.

“There is a pressure on every brand today that wants to reach the consumers, not just in the world of esports and gaming,” said Nasim Abu Qouta of DreamHack, a Swedish production company specializing in esports tournaments, gaming conventions, and the world’s largest digital festival. “Brands want to utilize technical solutions to achieve great brand activations that are remembered. Those that have achieved this sort of integration best so far are endemic brands, such as HP and Asus in the gaming space, in that they are providing benefit and value to the gaming community.”

While words can be forgotten, these brands are delivering pioneering kit and solutions that heighten the senses of consumers. They are not just selling a message – they’re delivering a full experience.

A key aspect of the online medium is that brands can measure the active engagement of customers and find out what works and what does not to inform these larger activation campaigns. Brand activation is more accessible than ever.

The changing medium of technology is exponentially increasing possibilities for communication. At every touchpoint, whether in hospitality, retail, or commercial spaces, consumers can be reached by a new kind of experience. Digital engagement can create a connection that goes far beyond simple storytelling.

The number of industries that can take advantage of the opportunity that this meeting of art and digital can bring is limitless, and this is great news for the AV community.

Future of Brand Activations

Brands need solutions that act as extensions of their message, and the AV professional who stays on top of trends in technology and can identify which solutions fit with a client’s goals is invaluable. Hood recommends constantly dialoguing with fellow AV professionals and creatives who are passionate about what they do as well as being open to new technologies, ideas, and possibilities.

futurefactor’s Nick Bailey emphasizes storytelling as a way to build an emotional connection with the consumer to give brand relevance and create a shift in behavior. “That’s the same job whether you’re telling a story through film or building an experience that resonates,” he said.

It’s important to note that creative innovation is not just about the latest and greatest technology, it’s about putting things together in surprising and innovative ways.

AV professionals have an extensive menu of technology to choose from to wow their customers, but first they need to find out what ingredients are available to cherry pick the right one — and that should be at the forefront of their minds when planning to win new projects.

Enjoy new insights as this group of experts explores how content and experience are changing everything in a brand-activated world.

About Sam Molineaux

Sam Molineaux is a writer, editor, proofreader, and graphic designer with several decades’ experience in publishing and marketing, particularly in the area of technology. She relishes transforming technical subjects into entertaining reading, and especially discovering the human story behind the science. She is the owner of Services Grammatica, which provides editorial services to a wide range of professionals and industries, and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Copy Editors Society, and WriterGals New Mexico. Sam has been a frequent contributor to AVIXA’s marketing efforts since 2015.