It’s official. As of 2014, we’re using mobile devices to connect to the internet more often than we’re using computers. Some studies suggest that more than 80 percent of internet traffic comes from mobile. 80 percent! As one folk singer put it, the times they are a changin’. And if your brand isn’t staying ahead of them, you’re in for a world of hurt.

The tech train stops for no one. But this is nothing new. Innovations in technology have been profoundly impacting branding since the invention of movable type in 1440. In the 18th century, newspapers and magazines emerged as a vehicle for the distribution of advertising. 1922 saw the birth of radio technology, leaving brands scrambling to craft compelling copy for on-air reads. Television came on the scene in the 40s, changing the game forever with moving visual narratives. In 1973, Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the world’s first public mobile phone call, followed shortly thereafter by the rollout of the first personal computers by IBM. In 1995, AltaVista publicly launched its internet search engine, and just three years later blogging emerged as a viable means of publication. Social media joined the fray in 2003, and branding hasn’t been the same since.

You get the idea. Technology isn’t a fad. Whether it’s ecommerce or mobile, video or virtual, technology defines the ways in which brands engage with their customers. And to say that technology grows like gangbusters is putting it lightly. Moore’s law states that technology grows at an exponential rate, as computer processing power doubles every two years. The upshot? Brands who don’t invest in wholly embracing technological trends will find themselves light-years behind the competition before they even know what hit them.

The breakdown is pretty simple. Brands must embrace technology for two main reasons: to remain relevant in the eyes of their customers, and to engage those customers in increasingly empowering ways.

Remaining Relevant

Change isn’t easy. Keeping up with tech trends can be an intimidating investment to make. But if your brand isn’t on pace with technological progress, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant—or worse, obsolete—in the eyes of your customers. The way consumers perceive a brand is contingent on the technology available to them. As we’ve seen, customers these days are more likely than not to experience your online presence via a mobile device. If your website isn’t at the very least optimized for mobile, you have a major stumbling block on the path to engaging those customers. If this company can’t give me a seamless mobile experience, thinks your customer, can they really deliver on the product or service I’m after?

The hesitation to change is a natural one. Successful businesses have leaders with a healthy dose of skepticism. But there’s skepticism and there’s foot-dragging, Luddite stubbornness. The latter is not a trait you want to have in the eyes of your customer. So how do you avoid such pitfalls? Seeking the advice of a branding firm with technology expertise is the best way to make sure your brand remains relevant to those you serve.

Empowering and Engaging Consumers

Beyond remaining relevant to your customers, technology enables you to do something far more valuable: empower them. Your customer today is not the same as your customer yesterday. They are more informed, more savvy, and way more influential. More than ever, consumers have the power to dictate the brand experiences they prefer.

Consumers want not only an engaging experience from the brands that shape their world, they want a hand in creating that experience. Technology has given them that ability. These days the stories that brands create are co-authored by the audiences that experience them. Content from social media and interactive apps drives the narrative behind effective engagement campaigns. When customers meaningfully contribute to the story of a brand, they feel invested in that brand. Technology has made possible a whole new caliber of emotional connection between a brand and its audience. Those who aren’t capitalizing on that connection are simply missing out.

Start With the Basics

The fact is, wherever your brand is when it comes to technology, it’s probably behind. The good thing is it’s never too late to catch up. But where to start? Social media, video, data visualization, apps, offline interactive—the possibilities can seem overwhelming. Like most things with business, though, it’s best to start with the basics. And nothing is more basic than ensuring that your online experience is optimized for the majority of your customers. In a word: responsive. Responsive web design gives your customers an optimal online experience regardless of which device they’re using. This empowers them to engage with you, without limitations, wherever they find themselves. Ours is a culture on the go, and this will only prove truer in the future. Brands have to keep up.

The extent to which your brand embraces technology can mean the difference between being seen as a leader or a Luddite in the eyes of your customer. Innovation is ever evolving and good branding keeps pace. Brand Thinking is committed to staying on top the intersection of branding and technology. Watch this space for an ongoing look into how technological advancement affects your brand’s engagement with its customers.

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A prolific blogger, speaker, and columnist, Brian has more than a decade of experience in design and branding. He’s written for publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and Brand Quarterly.