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Branding / Jan 26, 2024

AI in the World of Branding


Rich Hefty

Real Talk About Artificial Intelligence

AI has been around for years — decades even — but it hasn’t always grabbed headlines. For the most part, conversations about artificial intelligence were relegated to sci-fi movies and tech-industry message boards. But now, with the surging popularity of ChatGPT, Dall·E, Midjourney, and more, it’s safe to say that AI has entered the cultural mainstream, capturing imaginations and stoking more than a few fears.

A quick scroll through LinkedIn posts or Reddit threads is all it takes to see doomsday predictions like “AI is taking all the creative jobs” and “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and unlike the fellas in REM, we don’t feel fine).” This is especially true in creative industries, where copy, content, and design lead the charge. 

At The Brand Leader, everything we do revolves around creativity, so naturally, we’re asking ourselves what role AI can and should play in branding. Like so many others, we’ve had wide-ranging conversations about whether or not AI tools are overrated, whether they have the potential to replace human creatives, or whether there’s a way to use them to amplify our creativity. Ultimately, we’ve landed on this: We ideate. AI iterates.

A New Era of Advertising

Whether we like it or not, AI has changed the way ads are made, influencing everything from data analytics to message targeting. Robust data analytics provide real-time insights to help brands target the right people at the right time. Machine learning observes patterns in consumer behavior, allowing brands to make informed decisions about the type of content their consumers want to see. It can collect and analyze data surrounding an audience’s demographics, interests, buying intents, and behaviors to enhance ad relevance. 

Using these data-based predictions, brands can take a more proactive approach to their advertising efforts, helping them personalize customer experiences. When used well, AI can help brands make their consumers feel more seen and understood, strengthening their brand loyalty as a result.

But for all its analytical, behind-the-scenes advantages, AI introduces a fair share of uncertainty. While helpful for conducting research, its extensive knowledge center isn’t foolproof, which causes concerns about biases and inaccurate information. As of now, AI technology like ChatGPT only possesses knowledge up to a certain point in time. So, if you want the latest news, you’ll have to find it the old-fashioned way. And if you do find information with an AI-powered app, remember that AI is kinda like an older brother — just because it tells you something doesn’t mean it’s true. You better check your source.

A Work in Progress

When it comes to traditional creative disciplines like copywriting and graphic design, AI seems impressive at first. If you’ve ever spent hours using ChatGPT to write Shakespearean sonnets about your grandfather’s childhood adventures or asked an AI image generator to create realistic, sepia-toned photos of Picasso playing pickleball, you know what we’re talking about. You’ve likely been astounded — or at least amused. At least until you realize it spelled Grandpa’s name wrong or gave ol’ Pablo a bonus ear. Needless to say, attention to detail is still one of AI’s most glaring limitations. 

As impressive as AI is, it couldn’t exist without humans behind the wheel. It lacks the insight and creativity only humans can provide and requires quality prompts to produce worthwhile results. 

Despite the concerns and fears surrounding the presence of AI, it’s not something we should shy away from. Instead, it’s better viewed as a tool that we can use to analyze and refine our original ideas and concepts. At this point, it looks like AI is here to stay. We might as well make the most of it.

The Value of the Human Touch

AI can supplement human creativity, but it won’t replace human understanding. And since creativity is the process of making connections that didn’t exist before, original ideas are still the domain of creative people. While AI can work with available information, it can’t make the type of connections required to craft meaningful work that connects with human emotions. (Not yet, at least.)

The question shouldn’t be whether or not to implement AI into branding practices but how to use it most effectively. AI should amplify human capabilities, but for now, it still requires a human expert to operate at its fullest potential. It’s not self-aware, which is why humans still need to be in charge.

With thoughtful prompts, AI can be a valuable tool to produce outstanding work. It makes a great sounding board for brainstorming headlines, blog topics, outlines, and more — but at the end of the day, we still need to make sure that the ideas we refined with the help of AI tools align with subjective details like brand positioning, visual style, and voice. And like we said, AI isn’t above making errors. We still need to check our work. 

In the creative world, people are still the source of the best ideas. One of our core values here at The Brand Leader is “People First” because we recognize that we wouldn’t be who we are without our team and clients. The people are the heart and soul of any company or brand. If you want to maintain your competitive advantage, you should never lose sight of that.

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