Every company has a technology story. That’s a given, especially when tech underlies all that we do – from the ways we work to what we eat to how we communicate, learn and give back. Whether by circumstance or intention, tech is now our societal, emotional and operational backbone.
Unsurprisingly, this year presented tremendous opportunities. But it’s also been a time of great introspection for global tech brands.
When it comes to storytelling, we’ll remember 2021 as synonymous with purpose, brand and authenticity. More than ever, B2B and consumer tech brands are in the global spotlight – one that requires them to amplify not just their latest gadgets or services, but also to showcase how they, like consumer brands over the past few years, eat, breathe and sleep an authentic brand and hold true to a greater brand mission and purpose. After all, the C-suite, customers, partners, investors and employees expect, if not demand, an evolution in how tech brands tell their stories.
The truth is – evolution puts tech PR in a tough spot.
In an age where headlines scream “Tech PR is Dead” and “The Brand Purpose Debate: Is the Pendulum Swinging Too Hard?”, tech PR pros are pulled in two directions. Should you talk tech and prioritise products to capture audience mindshare and drive sales? Or do you lean into the times and heavily invest in a brand-first approach, focusing PR on company values, mission and authenticity to connect with customers and partners? Depending on whom you ask, what you sell (and to whom) and where you work, the answers are clear as mud.
Welcome to Technology PR’s Tug of War: The Battle of Brand vs. Product – Allison+Partners’ global tech report. We asked more than 1,000 technology marketing and PR decision-makers globally the modern-day chicken and the egg, which comes first: the product or the brand?
- Tech marcom pros crave brand-led stories. 77% of tech marketing, branding and communications decision-makers worldwide – and across industries – believe in the power of authentic, brand-first storytelling to showcase a company’s value, purpose and mission. In the UK, this stands at 76%. Even more (88%) believe their C-suite understands the value. In the UK, this was only slightly lower at 84%. But here’s the kicker: Only 58% of respondents say their company truly prioritises brand-focused campaigns, admitting to internal challenges standing in the way.
- Is the belief in brand one-size-fits-all? No. B2B decision-makers are more likely than their consumer tech counterparts to believe focusing on the values, ethics and mission of the company beyond the product lines is important when telling authentic stories about a brand.
- Is the customer always right? That’s up for debate. 72% say their customers make more purchasing decisions based on the overall strength of the brand, its mission and its values than they did three years ago. And yet, brand-led storylines fall to the back burner when sales get involved.
- Globally, communicators are – pun intended – all over the map when it comes to PR priorities. Only 13% of marketing decision-makers at international tech companies strongly believe their employer tells a consistent, brand-first story across all relevant markets. In fact, lack of alignment, exposure to unnecessary risk, channel inconsistency and more challenge 97% of tech marcom pros, who’d otherwise double down on a more authentic storytelling approach.
- Although CMOs (27%) are most likely to agree consistency was lacking across their local markets, 61% of director and manager-level marketers felt otherwise, pointing to major disparities between the orchestrators and creators of the message and those on the frontlines.
So, going back to that classic product vs. brand conundrum…how do tech PR pros drop the rope and end the tug of war? The answer lies in the balance. Check out Allison+Partners’ global report to learn more.
Karyn has worn a few hats in her many years with Allison+Partners – all of which map back to technology. In her current role as partner and founder of the agency’s B2B Technology group, Karyn dedicates her time to developing high-growth strategies for both start-ups and Fortune 500s. A former journalist and speechwriter, she knows what it takes to tell a compelling, relatable story for even the most complicated of technologies. Her nose for the news has helped companies evolve their brand and executive platforms, establishing them as true category leaders. Under Karyn’s award-winning direction, her teams spearheaded programs for Autodesk, C3.ai, Teradata, HPE, Tech Data, Skybox Security and many more.
Jordan oversees the consumer technology practice for Allison+Partners. In her more than 18 years with the firm, she has focused on PR strategy and implementation for technology products and services as well as consumer brands and digital media companies to drive consumer adoption. She has played a senior role with IKEA, G.E. Appliances, Niantic, Qualcomm, YouTube and Samsung consumer and B2B products.