What is Brand Tech?

Bridging the digital gap between branding and marketing.

The past 50 years have seen technology evolve and disrupt one business function after the other. Digitization first allowed businesses to more thoroughly and accurately record data and manage resources such as workforce, inventory or finance. Email also enabled better asynchronous communication, enabling companies to scale more rapidly and efficiently. The evolution of the internet further democratized these solutions through cloud and SaaS. It made data access and querying even simpler and enabled seamless synchronous collaboration at scale through integration with business communication platforms such as Teams, Slack or Feishu.

With the advent of the internet in the late 90s, digital technologies offered new possibilities for customer relationship disintermediation and richer, direct interactions between companies and their customers. This trend was further accelerated with the maturation of social media, e-commerce platforms and the addition of machine learning solutions coming together to make true the vision an automated, hyper targeted, cross-channel approach to marketing and commerce.

‘Martech’ or ‘Adtech’ are commonly used to refer to this new era of hyper efficient marketing in which brands hold unprecedented power to reach and influence customers. On closer look though, the current situation offers a striking paradox: from DSPs to E-CRM, customer experience management platforms and other such tools; brands have never had such an arsenal at their disposal and yet face a crisis of relevancy. Their customer loyalty, premium pricing power, competitive moat and cultural influence are all trending down. Marketing and sales are more tactically efficient than ever, but brands see their value eroded. The ‘Martech/Adtech age’ has made too many of them behave like algorithms, stripping them of their differentiation, relevancy and ultimately of their humanity.

Across industries, many decision makers realize this challenge. They seek to breathe life back into branding. Achieving this will require not just strategic intent but new technology solutions that can bring branding functions to the same level of digital sophistication as sales and marketing. Bringing about these solutions is the mission of Labbrand Technology Ventures.

Unpacking the possibilities of brand tech.

Unpacking the possibilities of brand tech requires us to start not with the new but with what is constant. Throughout the ages, building strong brands has always relied on 3 key capabilities.

  • People and culture
  • Creative innovation
  • Memorable experiences

The essence of brand tech is to digitally augment these capabilities not just in terms of work efficiency but in terms of output, enabling them to reach a new level of quality and impact. While the possibilities of brand tech can’t be exhaustively foreseen, we at Labbrand Technology Ventures have already started charting potential paths.

The AI thread

A myriad of emerging technologies underpins these new use cases and new types of outputs, chief amongst which we find AI. Machine learning has long been foundational to Martech and Adtech solutions but was unsuited to most branding applications. LLMs however have already demonstrated AI’s capacity to draw from large, unstructured sets of qualitative and quantitative data to assist not just with analysis but with critical thinking and decision making, closely mimicking the logic of brand thinking. One can easily imagine brand-specific LLMs trained on real and synthetic brand data, using brand strategy and guidelines as a rule set, aggregating data from market trends, competitors, customer research, CRM etc…. to assist with decision making and provide feedback on key brand decisions. Similarly, AIGC enables not just automation of high-quality content production but makes possible entirely new forms of creative ideation, expression and interaction.

While the possibilities of brand tech are in no way circumscribed to AI, we expect AI to be the common thread linking together the breakthrough applications.

Looking ahead

There is little doubt that brand tech will be a key topic on the agenda of decision makers in the years to come and will offer many opportunities for B2B entrepreneurs. On the part of brand owners, fulfilling the brand tech promise will require critical introspection, curiosity and a willingness to re-think long established ways of working.

Solution designers on their end will need to develop a keener understanding of brand thinking, brand decision making and associated work processes. Only then can they turn technology into solutions that can be easily adopted and scaled.

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