Artificial intelligence (AI) has long been a source of anxiety for marketers. The mere mention of AI entering marketing departments triggers fears of being boxed in by rigid analytics or automated out of a job entirely. Despite their reluctance, AI might just be marketers’ best bet to building closer connections with their customers.
So how exactly can AI make brands more authentic?
To start, it’s worth nailing down the definition of “brand.” While many marketers see brand as the sum of the designs and content they create, those are just one aspect. At its heart, brand is the collective impression customers have of a company. Every experience customers have with a company contributes to that company’s brand. With that definition in mind, the role of AI in creating an authentic brand experience comes in a few forms.
On the most basic level, brand authenticity begins with accessibility. Accessibility brings brands to larger audiences and allows those audiences to experience it more fully.
As marketers create more and more video content, they can easily exclude deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Manually generated captions take time and may not be a priority for marketers facing a crowded content calendar. Enter AI-generated video captions, which allow brands to improve video accessibility effortlessly. Usable even on live video, AI-powered captions add a depth of experience to video content.
For those with visual impairments, the image-rich world of social media marketing can be challenging to navigate, let alone enjoy. Facebook and Instagram’s built-in AI-generated image captions feature is breaking down those barriers. This means more people can enjoy social media content, regardless of whether a brand has added an image description.
In a busy marketing calendar, accessibility — while essential — can be seen as just one more thing to remember. By removing the effort required to create an accessible brand experience, AI allows for broader brand connections.
Understanding Customer Experience
Beyond removing barriers in accessibility, AI can also remove barriers in understanding. For many marketers, collecting customer feedback is equally enlightening and time-consuming. While brand reviews and online mentions provide a window into customer brand perceptions, they’re often hidden in the depths of raw data.
AI-powered sentiment analysis lets AI do the dirty work of sorting through data to produce insights on the way customers see brands. Beyond simple “positive,” “negative” and “neutral” perceptions, newer methods of AI-driven sentiment analysis are even beginning to weed out sarcasm in customer feedback.
Unlike customer surveys or interviews, sentiment analysis leverages unfiltered customer feedback. Combined with the scale of data AI can process, this application offers a complete picture of how customers perceive brands. By comparing these brand perceptions against their intended brand, marketers can better understand where they might be missing the mark. In working to close this gap, brands can become the most authentic version of themselves.
Personalized Brand Experiences
Beyond making customer experiences more accessible and understood, AI can also personalize those experiences. One of the biggest obstacles to brand authenticity is how impersonal marketing becomes as it scales. While marketers try to mitigate this issue through segmentation, segments alone can’t create the level of personalization customers are looking for.
To create the ever-elusive “segment of one,” AI offers a simple solution. Solutions like Google’s Recommendations AI learn the content and products each customer prefers to serve them more of what they want. By strategically presenting the parts of your brand each customer connects with, brands can offer entirely personalized experiences. It’s this kind of one-to-one connection that makes customers feel understood by brands.
Creating Brand Assets
Marketers might more readily accept AI’s role in accessibility, analysis and personalization, but genuinely creative AI can still be alienating. But even AI capable of generating design and content has an important part to play in making brand experiences more authentic.
At first glance, Open AI’s text-to-image generation and generated text capabilities seem like an existential threat to creatives. For my part, I’ve heard more than a few designers complain that my company’s AI-powered logo creation was taking away work from designers. While these AI applications may seem like a threat, they too can aid in humanizing brands.
Authentic brands need a unique angle that sets them apart from competitors. Still, marketers spend much of their effort on generic first drafts. Generated designs and content allow marketers to put their effort into fine-tuning rather than focusing on foundations. Providing more time to work on the details that distinguish brands, AI-generated assets shift the focus toward customer experience, so marketers can invest their time in the aspects of their assets that customers will remember.
Manufacturing Brand Authenticity
From the basics of brand accessibility all the way up to generated brand assets, AI can be a powerful tool for marketers. Rather than adding a barrier between brands and customers, AI excels at removing barriers. For marketers brave enough to make the leap, they might just find their brand’s humanity benefits from a bit of automation.