Two of the sessions I attended on Monday, March 16th at SXSW were “Digital Natives – Teen Talk” and “Humanizing Digital”. And honestly, it felt as though the key takeaways regarding how brands should and can impact your life were contradicting. For example, a Gen Z student being paneled said “brands aren’t people and everybody knows it… don’t encroach on my space” whereas marketers are rapidly trying to figure out “how can we become more human and change the way people think?”

At a first blush, you might think these statements are contradictory. But really, they’re just two sides of the coin saying the same thing differently. It’s not about turning a brand into a human. It’s about using technology to help brands emulate the attributes that make humans so unique. Rather than using technology to interfere with peoples’ lives, we need to use technology to deliver on a real human need. As one panelist, Google’s Head of Strategic Planning, said during the “Humanizing Digital” discussion, it’s “not about technology for the sake of technology… it’s about identifying how technology can support people. And it doesn’t always have to be complicated.”

As a strategist that lives and breathes both brand and digital, it was refreshing to hear that chasing the latest technology (even if it is very ‘cool’) isn’t always the best thing for your brand, or for people. And it serves as a healthy reminder that we must always ask ourselves “what and why is this relevant to our audience?” as we continue to see more innovations enter into the world.

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