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The technology brand dilemma

Steve Wymer
Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications

Steve Wymer advocates that the best brands will find the harmony between being ‘playful’ and ‘cutting-edge’

A consumer technology brand that captures the imagination and loyalty of the masses must stand for much more than ‘feeds and speeds’. Thousands of companies aspire to build brands that sustain an emotional connection with consumers in the middle of a cluttered landscape of stiff competition and ever-changing consumer expectations.

The challenge facing technology brands is that ‘playful’ cannot conflict with the perception of a brand as cutting-edge and innovative. Brands must meet constantly evolving expectations, while avoiding alienation of current customers.

Apple’s move from the rainbow apple to a modern, sleek chrome apple was mirrored in their products as they evolved from a niche product to a powerhouse global consumer brand. This change mirrored consumer expectations for their personal technology at the time — delivering a sleeker design with a user interface that still included the expected ‘friendly’, easy-to-use experience of past products. With their brand change, Apple established what consumers ‘had to have’ and the company remains at the top of Forbes’ insightful list of Most Valuable Brands.

The customer’s reaction to a truly immersive approach to learning is a powerful tool in building a brand

At TiVo, we deliver the television industry a myriad of advanced products and features that serve the needs of viewers and industry partners. But our brand has not kept pace with our best-in-breed technology. Our challenge is to expand the consumer’s recognition of our brand and the vastly superior experience we offer in relation to competitive products.

Consumers continually face clunky television/entertainment user experiences and countless devices that solve for one issue, but not all of them. And for pay-TV operators, this has perpetuated customer dissatisfaction and a volatile subscriber base.


While TiVo’s business is thriving, the challenge we face in engaging new consumers always comes back to the immeasurable value of a personal experience. Touching, feeling and interacting with a technology product makes all the difference, and will inevitably push marketers to increasingly leverage opportunities to emphasise ‘experience’ over ‘tell’.

Exhibits and creative services companies are becoming a greater piece of the strategic approach to surprise and delight an audience. The customer’s reaction to a truly immersive approach to learning becomes a powerful tool in building a brand.

That emotional connection with a consumer drives sales, but it also maintains the broader association consumers feel in relation to your company. A successful technology brand delivers the promise of continued innovation and loyalty. Creating the catalyst to buy is, of course, the most important piece of this puzzle, and also the hardest to achieve in today’s crowded marketplace of products and messaging.

Touching, feeling and interacting with a technology product makes all the difference

Observing the arc of brands as they emerge, adapt and modernise to meet the expectations of new audiences is college textbook fodder — especially as new mediums offer ever-changing methods to connect with consumers.

Companies who embrace new mediums and show up to engage in a daily fight for the attention of consumers will see great benefits.

The best brands will find the harmony between being ‘playful’ and ‘cutting-edge’, and be both to consumers. But if you must choose one… choose ‘cutting-edge’, and let the innovative value of the products you make earn your place in the consumer dialect. The warm place people have in their hearts for a brand is a less compelling reason to buy a product than the appeal of an elite product. And if you have that elite product, all the more reason to gear up and dig into the pursuit of earning lifelong customers in love with your appealing brand.


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