Branding with AI: The good, the bad and the reality
By James Maxwell on Tuesday, 14 November 2023
AI is becoming an indispensable tool for supporting the evolution and effectiveness of brand building.
Undoubtedly it can provide the flexibility and data-driven insights necessary to allow brands to adapt and thrive, particularly to increase personalisation and content relevance. AI’s capacity to analyse vast amounts of consumer data to identify emerging trends and preferences, can help brands adapt their hero assets to remain relevant and appealing.
But while AI offers insights and data for planning, it falls short on creating truly distinctive brand assets, logos for example. The craft and insight gained from years of individual and collective experience, empathy and understanding remain a more powerful tool for creation.
Let’s explore what’s good about AI, what’s bad and what’s the reality when considering how to use it to build long-term brand fame and affinity.
AI assistance can help speed up several stages in the brand building process:
AI and Colour
AI can assist in colour selection by analysing a colour’s psychological and cultural associations. This data-driven approach can help brands choose colours that not only align with their values but also evoke specific emotions in consumers.
But when AI algorithms monitor colour, it’s worth remembering that they’re just watching trends. So, while we may think it’s a good idea to make adjustments to keep a brand's colour palette fresh and appealing, it makes for a here-and-now-approach, not one that builds longevity.
AI and Logos
AI can aid in logo design by analysing vast datasets of successful logos to identify patterns and elements that, at a moment in time, resonate with audiences. This data-driven approach can support with creating sets of potential logos as a starting point.
Some may say that AI-powered tools will allow you to continually assess consumer sentiment towards logos, helping brands to adapt and refine their visual identity based on real-time feedback. But is that ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences also able to ensure the logo remains a powerful representation of trust and reliability? We would say not.
AI and the words: Brand lines and TOV
AI is able to assist in creating memorable lines, by analysing linguistic data and consumer sentiments. Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms can help brands understand what words and phrases resonate with their target audience. These insights can then guide the creation of straplines that not only encapsulate the brand's essence, but also align with the current cultural conversation. But the nuances and empathy that a writer, strategist and brand marketeer bring is still needed to ensure the lines truly do hit home.
Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are now becoming extensions of a brand's voice, helping to reinforce straplines and brand identities in customer interactions. Programming chatbots to assume a brand’s tone of voice can prevent customers feeling alienated in automated spaces. However, there is a bigger question at play: if authenticity is key to a brand, does the mere presence of an AI chatbot negate that brand experience?
However sophisticated the AI, it still has various drawbacks:
Lack of Creativity
AI is based on algorithms and patterns, which limit its ability to generate truly innovative and creative ideas. AI-generated designs that follow popular trends and templates are likely to result in brand assets that look generic and fail to stand out. Building a brand requires out-of-the-box thinking and emotional resonance, which remain challenging for AI to replicate.
Loss of Human Touch
The most successful brands are built on creating genuine emotional connections with users.
AI lacks the human touch and emotional understanding that are crucial when crafting brand assets that resonate with the target audience.
Inconsistent Brand Messaging
While AI can help automate certain aspects of brand communication, it may not always understand the nuances of a brand's values, mission, and voice. This can lead to inconsistencies in messaging, which can be detrimental to brand identity.
We strongly believe in using AI responsibly. This includes being aware that AI algorithms are only as good as the data they’re trained on. Biases present in the training data can lead to unintentional biases in brand assets, which can have negative social and ethical implications.
Limited Understanding of Cultural Nuances
Branding often involves understanding and respecting cultural nuances. AI may not have the cultural sensitivity required to navigate diverse markets effectively, potentially leading to cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity. This is particularly true when creating global brands that are also locally relevant.
While undoubtedly a powerful tool to help explore brand building, using AI comes at a considerable energy cost. It relies heavily on the computational power of servers and vast server farms, often powered by energy-hungry data centres. These are packed with high-performance hardware and require an immense amount of electricity to function efficiently.
As we explore the exciting possibilities of AI in brand and content creation, it’s crucial to recognise the environmental impact of these energy demands. Balancing innovation with sustainability is paramount in harnessing AI’s potential, while minimising its environmental footprint.
While AI can be a valuable tool in the branding process, we believe that it must be used judiciously and in conjunction with human creativity and expertise. The downfalls of AI in branding for the long term largely revolve around its limitations in creativity, emotional understanding, and cultural sensitivity.
Successful branding efforts involve a harmonious blend of AI-driven data insights and human-driven creativity and intuition, to create brand assets that truly resonate with the target audience and reflect the brand's unique identity.
Our view is that AI is a useful tool to speed up exploration. But it’s not an answer in itself. It’s great for finding averages and trends. But not for standing out or disrupting sectors. It can only remix the here and now.
Here’s our best practice advice for brands thinking of using AI tools and approaches:
- Balancing Human and AI: Use AI as a tool to enhance human creativity and decision-making rather than replace it. Combine the strengths of AI (data analysis, automation) with human insights (creativity, intuition).
- Ethical AI Usage: Be aware of potential biases in AI algorithms and take steps to mitigate them. Ensure ethical AI practices to avoid unintended consequences.
- Continuous Learning: Invest in ongoing training and education to stay updated with the latest AI tools and techniques relevant to brand management.
- Testing and Validation: Before implementing AI-driven changes to brand assets, conduct thorough testing and validation to ensure they align with the brand's core values and resonate with the target audience.
- Human Oversight: Maintain human oversight in the branding process. Human expertise is crucial for assessing the emotional impact of brand assets.
- Flexibility: While AI can provide valuable insights, be willing to adapt and make changes based on qualitative feedback and evolving market dynamics.
If you’d like to discuss how to assess your brand’s ability to thrive in an AI driven world of urgency, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.