AI: BRANDING IN A NEW ERA

AI is powerful technology that's transforming our world, fast. But there are many red flags in the way AI systems are being deployed and used.

AI is powerful technology that’s transforming our world, fast. There are, however, many red flags in the way AI systems are being deployed and used, especially in the world of branding.

Improved customer experience, more efficient marketing, increased ROI

First the positive impacts of AI on branding. There is no doubt that AI will revolutionise branding by providing new, data-driven insights into customer behaviour and preferences. This will lead to highly personalised, targeted marketing efforts that resonate with customers in a way that was previously impossible. By using natural language processing, brand owners can create targeted advertisements and offers that are more likely to be of interest to specific segments of their customer base. This will lead to higher conversion rates and more loyal customers.

AI-powered virtual and augmented reality will be used to enhance brand storytelling and create more engaging and memorable brand experiences. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants will be used to improve customer service and support, making it easier for customers to get the information they need and resolve issues quickly. This in turn will help to build trust and loyalty with customers.

AI will improve the efficiency of supply chain, production, and logistics, which will lead to cost savings for companies and better pricing for customers. And because AI can automate time-consuming tasks and streamline processes, brand owners will be freed up to focus more on strategic thinking and creativity.

AI decisions are impacting people’s lives in a negative way

There are, however, a few massive red flags when it comes to how AI is being used by brand owners.  First, there’s the alignment problem between machine behaviour – and the core algorithms that drive it – and the human values and things that matter to people. Delegating decisions to machines requires making judgment calls, not just processes. 

There are already a growing number of AI decisions impacting people’s lives in a negative way – such as will you get a mortgage from this bank, or not – with no moral compass, no compassion, and no common sense. Part of the reason for this is a drop in accuracy for groups not well represented in data (AI vision systems, for example, are less accurate when it comes to people of colour because there’s a bigger data set of white people). 

Such unintended consequences will not only disadvantage certain customer segments, but they will also have a negative impact on customer trust and loyalty and cause reputational damage to businesses. Ethics and people must be prioritised ahead of the AI system itself to find the right balance between the business priorities and the rights of customers.

AI decisions are impacting brands in a negative way

Second, AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on, so there’s a risk that biases and inaccuracies in that data could lead to harmful or ineffective branding decisions. If the data used to train AI models contains biases or inaccuracies, this will lead to unintended consequences, such as promoting stereotypes or making decisions that don’t align with the brand’s values or goals.

To mitigate this risk, it’s essential that brand owners ensure that the data used to train AI models is diverse, representative, and free from biases. Too many companies have a “set and forget” attitude when it comes to their AI systems. Constant vigilance is required in order to regularly evaluate and refine AI models to ensure they continue to make accurate and unbiased predictions over time.

AI systems cannot replace the emotional connection

And third, relying too heavily on AI will lead to a homogenisation of branding efforts, with brand owners relying on data and algorithms instead of their own unique vision and voice. AI should be seen as a tool to be used in conjunction with human creativity and intuition, not a replacement for it. 

While AI can provide valuable data-driven insights, it’s up to human marketers to use that information to create meaningful, impactful branding efforts that connect with customers on an emotional level. AI cannot replace the emotional connection that a strong brand can provide. Companies need to balance the strengths of AI with the power of human creativity to succeed in building powerful, lasting brands in the AI era.

Brand owners start with good intentions when it comes to AI, but it often doesn’t work out that way. There is a need to constantly evaluate the potential benefits and risks of their AI systems and take proactive steps to mitigate potential harm to their brand and reputation.

The AI that persists and stands the test of time will be the systems that generates consistent value and are based on integrity, rigour, efficiency, reputation, truth, compassion and care. 

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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