In many ways, technology has saved us this past year. Against the backdrop of Covid, the likes of Zoom and TikTok have become household names as they filled the gap and helped us to connect and maintain continuity, while fast-paced innovation has been spurring on major medical advancements and providing us with not just one, but now seven vaccines.

With so much competition to become a dominant technology brand in this fast-growing sector, we have noticed it’s the tech brands that can clearly demonstrate that they add real value and form a deeper connection with their customer base that are the ones that are racing ahead.

1.What are the successful brands doing?

Addressing Environmental Damage

As digital has stretched to cover ever more sectors from gaming to shopping to banking and remote work, the environmental consequences of data are increasingly now a major concern for many tech brands. It’s surprising for us to think that every email sent, video streamed, and google search has its own environmental cost but data centers are massive consumers of energy. Who would have thought digital tech would be responsible for the same percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions as the airline industry!?

Bill Gates is setting a precedent for other tech companies to follow, leading Microsoft to work towards renewable solutions within its gigantic data centers. Cloud computing can be up to 98% more carbon-efficient than on-premise data storage solutions, which is why we anticipate a huge dominance in cloud-streaming and storage. Tech brands are going to have to step up, and show their commitment to the planet by communicating their sustainability goals, and more importantly, following them through.

Living up to New Expectations

People are sick of seeing huge tech brands take advantage of their extreme monopoly power; weaning away threats that stand in their way. This doesn’t work, as ultimately, people value choice – at a reasonable price. It’s clear the next generation of consumers is taking a more ethical and inclusive approach to the products and brands they consume. As a result, new start-ups have begun to imagine a new era of entrepreneurial tech – as a force for good.

One example of a nimble fintech start-up that is offering complete transparency is ‘Doconomy’. Their DO Black card is the first credit card with a carbon footprint limit, helping users track and measure the CO2 emissions associated with their purchases. The brand goes one step further as the card itself is renewable and biodegradable; representing that extra commitment to circular sustainability. What more could you ask for?

Even more Personalised experiences

With COVID, the demand for an even more personalised, human-centered experience has skyrocketed. Netflix is a tech brand that has done this really well. Through tracking customers’ habits and usage, they’ve been able to stay one step ahead. Data gathered by AI revealed that many users were re-watching old series of Gilmore Girls, motivating a new series to be produced, available only on Netflix.

You may think this to be an ingenious example of connecting the dots between data and delivery but isn’t this obvious?

Knowing your user base well helps to build long-term partnerships and foster customer loyalty, and this can also be achieved through a deeper investment in your brand personality. At Underscore, we worked with the leading property development tech brand LandTech to recognise the emotional depth of their brand which could then be brought out across their communications to show them as a people-first tech business with a strong established culture and an exciting and diverse personality that people can connect with.

Pre-empting customer fast-changing needs

Travel seems like a forgotten notion this past year, and with over 40 airlines now having declared bankruptcy, it’s vital that brands remain nimble so they can recover this lost ground quickly, and with a 500% increase in travel bookings now that the summer road map has been released, it’s crucial brands think ahead to design a seamless customer experience in advance; maximising their opportunity when the time comes.

When developing the brand for SAM, the AI pocket travel assistant, at Underscore we wanted to add multiple layers of personality to the AI chatbot. Similar to Netflix, it uses data to predict the user’s needs before they’ve even thought of them; making it an indispensable companion to the user’s business trip. This element of customer connection and value helps to foster long-term brand loyalty and appreciation for the product.

Another Tech company that is helping to rethink travel is Amadeus. This travel brand is providing an end-to-end touchless journey, replacing any interpersonal contact with contactless check-in and alerts to avoid queues. The ability to recognise the hesitations of the customer, and actively respond by adapting the service is essential.

2. What this means for you;

Expectations will be higher:

To be successful right in this day and age, tech brands need to dig deep and foster a true connection with their users. What is a brand without its customers – without a purpose? In a survey by Wunderman Thompson Data, 80% of US gen Z’ers say that brands should help make people’s lives better. The market is oversaturated with millions of brands, some doing very similar things. They need to be a genuinely worthwhile addition to someone’s life.

Be the real innovators:

The legendary Apple guru Steve Jobs was famous for never holding focus groups. He had such belief in his products that he believed he was creating the demand, rather than reacting to it. Great innovations such as the iPad can take a little time for society to catch up – fulfilling a demand we didn’t even know we had. However with a brand story like “think different’ the followers and customers of the Apple brand are being encouraged to expect change and evolve their mindsets to anticipate future product releases that seem beyond their existing wants and needs.

Anticipate future demand:

The push back against the power of Big Tech is now underway and continues to grow from regulators, politicians, and the public. This should see the value of nimble, smaller tech brands become more valuable in the years to come.

The environmental impacts of everything we do are becoming more urgent, with younger customers especially asking harder questions, and not letting go.

We anticipate health, education, and law will be three such sectors that provide huge opportunities for existing and new tech brands… but for all sectors, the game is only just beginning.