The Rise of the Creative Technologist

How technology birthed a new generation of creatives who hold the key to brand success

By Stewart Hamilton-Arrandale, Creative Technologist, Happy Finish

From the revered Ford Motor Company adverts in the early 1900s to the infamous Mad Men storyboards and pitches of the 1970s, brand success has always been tied to captivating creative. Graphic designers have traditionally been the ones to bring those all-important ideas to life.

Fast forward to the end of the 20th century and the proliferation of digital technologies in advertising. Not least, the emergence of Flash – a technology that enabled graphic designers to produce interactive and animated designs without the need for extensive programming knowledge. It changed the game.

For many in the industry, it was a pivotal moment that led to the birth of what we can now call ‘creative technologists’. The tech led to the creation of complex applications and installations, including mobile apps. It drove people’s imaginations and became the springboard for some graphic designers (such as me) to pursue a techie path, learn programming, problem-solving, and exploring the full range of digital tools available.

As technology continues to evolve, the entry level for programming and other tech-related fields has become more challenging. As a result, creative technologists have a role to play in helping others to navigate this complex and ever-changing landscape. Brands are constantly faced with new challenges and with the unusual combination of creative execution, tech capabilities, and problem-solving skills to projects, creative technologists can help brands tackle issues in new and innovative ways. Brands need to marry engaging story-telling that aligns with brand and product audiences, creativity and the technology needed to deliver.

Brands constantly fight to stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. To keep market share, it’s crucial for brands to be aware of emerging trends and technologies and react in the appropriate way best suited for their business. . In other words, it’s about finding the best creative tool for the job. Implementing the correct tools and techniques enables companies to stay relevant and competitive to achieve their business objectives.

Consumer impact

With the rise of social media and other digital platforms, consumers are increasingly interacting with brands in new and innovative ways. Brands must leverage these platforms to create engaging experiences that capture the attention of consumers and build brand loyalty.

All too often there is a gap between technical teams and creative departments which needs to be bridged. . To create effective and engaging solutions that meet the needs of all stakeholders, specialist knowledge of how to build and develop with new technologies must be accompanied by a clear understanding of the creative needs. By combining creativity, technology, and strategy it effectively delivers real value.

It must be made clear that technology is not a solution in itself, but a tool to solve a problem. The first step is   identifying the problem and then evaluating which technology is best suited to address it.

It’s important for brands to focus initial discussions on the problem being solved and the purpose of the creative vision. The role of technology should be considered last, as it is always in flux.  Brands need to be guided with informed consultancy to help them arrive at the right solutions that bring real value, rather than just doing something or using a particular tech solution for the sake of it.

Every year, new technologies capture the attention of the mainstream, such as NFTs last year and AI this year. And although AI will become prevalent in the near future, it is not yet there.

Many future tech solutions are not attainable for most people, it can be hard to know how to use or implement these new technologies due to financial and infrastructure limitations. Therefore, it is best to focus on the fundamentals until these technologies become usable and accessible to all. If a brand is thinking of jumping on the latest tech the first thing to do is to stop and ask why?

While Flash was a tipping point that led to the emergence of creative technologists, technology continues to evolve and the need for people that can bridge the gap between creative and tech has only grown. Brands need help to navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of technology.

By identifying problems and using the appropriate technology as a tool to solve them, there is the opportunity for brands to deliver innovative solutions that push the boundaries of what is possible.