Branding for Shopping Bots, Apps and Tastemakers

In the world of today, humans are the prime benefactor and target for branding work. We see it with our eyes and we process our experiences and desires to make judgments whether products and services are for us or not. We also can divine through good branding campaigns the extensions of products or services we will enjoy or recognize the ones we will not.

We all have a personal brand that we use to keep track of the things we like, the things we didn’t and what we’d like others to think of us. From this, we determine if products align with our brand. If they do, we buy. If not, we pass it by.

As the world moves into the future, we can extrapolate how much more dependent we will be on technology. Already we have begun to trust our mobile devices more than we trust our own senses or knowledge. Maps and way-finding are a perfect examples. A few decades ago we relied on physical maps, sign-age and perhaps even a little intuition to find our way. Today, we have GPS and apps that just tell us the steps that we’d have to take. We blindly trust that Magellan knows the way.

What about knowing what we like? Would our technology then do the deciding of likes for us? Perhaps there’d be some sort of algorithm that would take into account similarly branded items and deliver our tastes to us?

Technology could easily understand our habits and predict our tastes, then deliver suggestions, creating blinders to everything else as we travel down our own long tails of personal taste. Google already does this for us, to a degree. They list our browsing habits and forecast similar sites. Why not do the same in physical stores? Couple this with a more finely tuned location aware application and the inside of a store becomes as specialized as a Nordstrom’s visit.

Now that things are far more helpful, what would this do to branding? It would essentially make the mobile device the brand consumer. The device would be in charge of continuing the loyalty to a brand, as long as the actual consumer does not specifically say not to. Brand loyalty may actually become like opt-out email campaigns, we continue to support them just because we’re too lazy to shut it off.

Devices will find the selected objects in stores by some sort of location awareness or NFC technology. This will save us time, primarily from the waste of browsing or deciding as we will trust our devices to understand our personal brand and the brand loyalties we enjoy.

Packaging will still serve to close the final decision. Instead of selling the product, it will serve to support the buying decision merely as a re-check against the branding algorithm. Advertising could have an immediate effect. Ads with QR codes could be instantly scanned (if liked) and added directly to the shopping list, and the buyer’s personal brand likes are updated.

Branding would become more of an algorithm than a face of a product or service – it will still be there on the packaging and in ads, but the brand’s most important component will be how it is found and interacted with in the mountains of cloud data that connects preferences with shoppers. A shopper’s buying habits will be analyzed along with countless other shoppers to form a kind of ‘like’-chain, making it easier to suggest products in other categories. Using their devices, the shopper will rate the product afterward and their preferences of brand and product will change slightly and the cloud would be updated.

As the world becomes more and more hectic, our reliance on our devices to make the more mundane decisions for us will only increase. These decisions will extend into shopping and having a program that recognizes what we like, keeps up with our (subtitle) changing tastes and recommends items will become invaluable. These apps will guide us through shopping experiences with precision and ease, cutting down on the time it takes to buy our needs. For that, we will be grateful, even though decisions on brand loyalty will be made by a small device and a large, distant server rather than by our own tastes.

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