Thomas Z. Ramsøy

Killing Your Brand with Technostress

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In today’s marketplace, it is an undeniable fact that we are constantly bombarded with advertising. From social media to television to billboards, it seems as though we are unable to escape the incessant flow of commercial messaging. The new concept of “technostress” is becoming an increasing topic for companies to become aware of and adjust to.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a recent study by SurveyMonkey found that 74% of individuals are fatigued by social media advertisements. This serves as a crucial reminder for companies to re-evaluate their approach to marketing their products and services.

Commercial noise is not a problem “out there” — it is something that brands have to address. Just like we see that companies are now having policies for carbon footprint, gender identity, Black Lives Matter, and more, we should expect — even demand! — that companies also start focusing on their “commercial footprint”.

The Effects of “Technostress”

As the constant stream of commercial noise becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, it has begun to be recognized as a form of “techno-stress.” This term refers to the negative impact of technology on an individual’s psychological and physical well-being. With the constant bombardment of advertisements, people can start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, leading to negative effects on their mental and physical health.

As new digital platforms appear, how are we to ensure that they are not becoming yet new platforms for commercial interruptions?

Studies have shown that techno-stress can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and even physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. This highlights the need for companies to take a more mindful approach to their marketing efforts and minimize the commercial noise that they are contributing to.

How Commercial Noise Also Hurts the Brand

For brands, the problem with commercial noise is that it can lead to negative brand emotions among consumers. When individuals are overwhelmed with a constant barrage of advertisements, they may begin to experience stress, confusion, and even frustration. This is not a desirable outcome for any company, as it can lead to a detrimental perception of the brand.

The relationship between stress and consumer behavior is a complex one, but recent research has shed some light on how stress can influence the way consumers allocate their resources. According to a study titled “The Effect of Stress on Consumer Saving and Spending,” (PDF) stress can lead consumers to adopt different strategies when it comes to managing their resources. The study found that when consumers experience stress, they may engage in increased saving behavior as a way of ensuring that they have the necessary resources available when needed.

Brands need to recognize that consumer spending behavior is extremely affected — and often in unpredictable ways — by technostress.

Alternatively, consumers may engage in increased spending behavior, specifically on products that they perceive as necessities and that allow them to regain a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable environment. This research highlights the importance of considering the role of stress when analyzing consumer behavior and can inform assessments of when stress will lead to beneficial or impulsive consumer behaviors. The effect of noise and stress on consumer behavior is that it skews and alters their spending behavior in often unpredictable ways.

This highlights the importance of not only minimizing commercial noise but also ensuring that the products and services a company offers live up to consumer expectations.

What Brands Can Do

So, how can companies effectively minimize commercial noise and avoid the potential backlash of negative brand emotions? One strategy is to prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of overwhelming consumers with an endless stream of advertisements, companies should focus on creating high-quality, targeted advertisements that specifically target their desired audience.

Another approach is to prioritize transparency and honesty in their marketing efforts. As consumers become increasingly savvy, they can detect false or misleading claims. By being transparent and honest in their marketing, companies can establish trust and credibility with their target audience.

Additionally, companies can focus on creating content that is both informative and entertaining. This can serve as an effective means of connecting with consumers on a deeper level and cultivating a positive brand image.

Finally, commercial communication needs to balance the amount of information provided with what customers need. The worst that can happen is that brand communication has a too high cognitive load, leading to annoyance, confusion, and frustration. This, in turn, will produce a negative halo effect on the brand.

At the core of this, companies need to not only be inspired and design according to these goals, but also test their ideas, concepts, sketches, and other assets before sending them out into the market. The traditional approach of “throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks” will not suffice. In fact, it will only contribute to the very problem of commercial noise that they are trying to avoid. The solution is to do rapid testing, using available tools that provide a low-cost, high-turnaround feedback on their assets and ideas.

In conclusion, companies must critically evaluate their approach to marketing their products and services. By minimizing commercial noise, prioritizing quality and transparency, and creating engaging content, companies can mitigate the potential negative impact of brand emotions and cultivate a positive brand image, as well as ensure that the products and services they offer are of high quality and meet consumer expectations.