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It’s all getting a bit emotional! What emotional technology means for communicators

People are so attached to technology these days that it is not surprising this attachment is beginning to feel like a relationship. According to a recent study by communications agency Harvard, people’s connection with tech brands, whether for work or play, has become increasingly emotional and social. The study highlights that this means tech brands must change how they engage with their audiences.

Discussing the huge changes in society relating to tech, Louie St Claire, group CEO of Harvard, explains: “There has been a big shift in the global technology narrative and people are starting to ask questions after huge disruption across virtually every industry. As such the tech brands are facing unprecedented and interlinking challenges – from the availability of extremist content and the impact on radicalisation, to the rise of automation and potential job destruction, and of course thepolarisation of political discourse.The pressure is on and the industry is facing a reckoning like never before.

“Technology has become the sector to work in, a magnet for talent and skills and an engine for growth and opportunity in the UK and worldwide. Pay outpaces any other sector, with salaries 44% higher than the national average. Responsible for 10% of the UK’s GDP and employing just over one and half million people, the technology industry is the place to be. And our research shows that tech brands are still pretty much universally loved by their audiences.”

Four types of tech

The study divided tech brands into four different types, with their own personas, each one needing to tailor their comms differently.

Entertainers – brands that give customers a fun time

Entertainers are outstanding at giving their audiences enjoyable experiences, but those experiences can sometimes appear “soft”, without a strong purpose and centre of gravity. While Entertainers may not want to run exclusive activities just for their fans, they could still look to sharpen up how they talk about what they do and how it adds up to a bigger picture.

Supremos Supremos – brands that offer customers a unique and life-changing experience

The danger for Supremos is they become so exclusive they feel cold and alienating. The challenge is to minimise this risk without diluting everything that makes the brand so special to its fans. But adding a little bit of humanity to the way the brand communicates – through empathetic spokespeople and customer case studies – could be a good compromise to give it extra warmth.

Builders – brands that aim to make the wold a better place

Builders can try to fix so many problems they sometimes lack focus in what they do and talk about. That can come across as a lack of clarity about their purpose and potentially confuse customers. Staying laser-targeted, and prioritising a few key initiatives rather than experimenting with lots of smaller ones, could help.

Gurus – brands that believe their technology serves a higher purpose

Knowledgeable and wise, Gurus help solve really big problems. But their approach is instinctively academic in nature which can feel dry. There’s a big opportunity to create more interactive experiences that engage larger numbers of people and at the same time help spread the message about their work.

The future of tech comms

Whatever the type of tech brand, the report highlight four ways that comms need to change:

1 Tell a story. The rules of engagement have changed. In today’s crowded and cacophonous marketplace, you need to fight for attention and actively seek out your audience. Provide experiences and opportunities for storytelling.

2 Challenge. Increasingly people are starting to value unique experiences over acquiring more “stuff”. They want to do things they can talk about with their friends and their social networks. Challenge your audience to learn and compete .

3 Teach. There is an appetite for getting involved in tasks, challenges and events. A smart, connected audience positively wants to learn about new ideas, develop new skills, and stand out in a competitive social and economic landscape. Be teachers, mentors and agents of change.

4 Engage. People are looking for brands to help them navigate an era of rapid change and increasing complexity. That opens up opportunities for tech companies to engage their audiences and build loyalty for the long-term.

Summing up how tech brands need to evolve their communications, St Claire says that brands must appreciate that they are selling to ‘real people’ and make the effort to understand their audiences in order to engage them.



Harvard worked with Censuswide Research to conduct a survey of 1,000 UK consumers.interestdc in innovation. They were asked about their attitudes, opinions and preferences on why and how they engage with technology brands, and what they expect from the brands engaging with them as customers, followers and fans.

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