Why technology isn’t the (only) answer
When we consider the changes shaping our future, it’s natural to default to discussions about nascent technology. That’s an important factor, but it can distract us from the real point. I’m old enough to remember when the fax machine was the “it” time-saving equipment. Instead of waiting to mail or hand-deliver documents, we could send them instantly to customers to get input and approval. We thought our troubles were over. But instead of being able to bank that “saved” time, we found that the new technology just helped compress our deadlines and increase the pressure to deliver instant results.
Tomorrow’s tech breakthroughs will no doubt bring new levels of flexibility, speed, accuracy and variety to our work. But if we know anything about the future – no matter how radical or unexpected the disruptions are – people are not likely to feel they have more time to waste. If anything, time will be increasingly precious. So, the question becomes, what can we offer consumers that they value more than their own time? Can we help them actually save time by getting to a decision, a connection, a transaction or an understanding more quickly?
The brand experiences we design and produce will continue to have major, positive economic and social impact. Our conferences, exhibitions and special events should still support the transfer of knowledge through certification classes, through lectures and panels (although these may be virtual), and as importantly, through networking opportunities. Brand experiences in the future will continue to promote commerce. But today, and going forward, we must recognize that busy people don’t have time for everything they want to do; we must demonstrate good value.
In this sense, time is the currency of brand experience. If I spend my valuable time with you – if I invest precious minutes and hours with the experience you offer instead of working, eating, sleeping, or enjoying my family – I expect something in return. I expect a lot.
At Freeman, we believe in the unlimited potential of brand experiences to engage an individual’s five senses in a personal way. This commitment to make it personal is another way of talking about relevance. We think of this as return on interest – the value participants get in exchange for taking time to engage with us. This means we must design experiences that:
- Offer immersive, personalized experiences;
- Connect people;
- Streamline the decision journey;
- And inspire and motivate participants.
When we do these things to make the experience worthwhile, we build our brand equity, honor our commitments and help build a sustainable, successful future.