AI & Branding: A New Frontier

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

According to McKinsey, Ai usage has soared in the past five years, reaching a 50 percept adoption rate in august of alt year. And I think it’s pretty clear that it’s showing no sign of slowing down, nor is its applications limited to any one particular industry. It also seems that the media is featuring a new AI platform or industry application almost every day.

As marketers, we need to take notice of companies like Coca Cola and Mars–two behemoth brands that have taken the AI plunge. Mars leaned on DALL-E, a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. And, according to VentureBeat, Mars isn’t stopping there. Shubham Mehrish, who oversees Mars’ global digital, data, and analytics teams, believes the company has merely scratched the surface of its lofty ambitions moving forward. At this point, he say’s “it’s a question of finding a process where we are not using AI and machine learning.”

At Coca-Cola, they’re releasing a groundbreaking AI platform dubbed “Create Real Magic,” which enables digital artists to produce unique works of art utilizing recognizable elements from Coca-Cola’s archives. It’s a small concession to their loyal consumers who are eager for a seat at the table. The platform combines the capabilities of GPT-4, which produces human-like text from search engine queries, and DALL-E, which produces images based on text. Fans of Coca-Cola have the opportunity to access a plethora of branded elements and submit their work for the chance to be features on digital billboards in Times Square.

It’s not just brands that diving in headfirst. all the major holding companies are rushing to outdo one another, and perhaps moving into dangerous territory. WPP has teamed up with chipmaker Nvidia to create images using generative artificial intelligence. Now, WPP will be able to harness Adobe Stock and Getty Images to produce more tailored images and videos.

It’s become abundantly clear to most marketers that it’s no longer a matter of it but rather how, where, and when. In fact, “91% of C-suite executives expect the Marketing team to start using AI to increase efficiency and beat the competition.” So, if your CEO hasn’t asked yet, you can rest assured they will. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the tools at your disposal on the market. Here’s a crash course.

Conversational AI

You’ve undoubtedly already heard about ChatGPT and Google’s Bard as it seems like they are in the media every day. ChatGPT is the most famous conversational AI application, and this technology does some incredible things, such as generating contextually relevant, coherent, and original text based on a given prompt or input: converting written descriptions into visuals : generating software code based on natural language descriptions of desired functionality; and–the one find most useful–text summarization, where it creates concise and informative summaries of longer text while preserving the main ideas and context. And that’s just some of what it can do.

Generative AI

Generative AI is a technology that can learn from existing assets to generate new, realistic ones that reflect the characteristics of the information and data inputted. It can produce a range of creative content, such as images, music, speech, text, and product designs. Some of the more popular ones include Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion–all of which generate images from natural language descriptions called “prompts.”

Notion AI is a generative AI writing assistant, productivity, and note-taking application that is more customizable than ChatGPT. Notion AI allows users to create custom databases, tables, notes, and to-do lists.

Adobe Firefly

Think Photoshop but 50 times better. Now generative color and fill are right at users’ fingertips, which will enable them to create an almost limitless number of photos in every conceivable style. It’s a marketer’s dream as it provides the furl to test out an abundance of options that can be tailored to the needs of any consumer segment and/or persona.


This cloud-based typing assistant does a top-notch job at preventing spelling and grammatical errors. Already available on over 500,000 websites, and something you’ve no doubt come across while writing an email on your Gmail account, Grammerly is breaking a new frontier by offering plagiarism detection, suggesting replacements, and providing users with the change to customize their style and tone so that I can replicate it for them. While it doesn’t completely off-load the editing process, it will substantially minimize the time required.

Microsoft 365 Copilot

Designed as a go-to assistant for all types of work needs, Microsoft Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 to transform users’ words, charts, and meetings into a powerful productive tool without violating any security and privacy concerns. Powered by Large Language Models, this AI tool promises to “make users more analytical in Excel, more expressive in PowerPoint, more productive in Outlook, and more collaborative in Teams.”

AI User Personas

Now that we’ve covered some of the more popular emerging AI platforms, the real adjustment period will be in learning how to employ them and when. Start by encouraging your team to test these new platform and become comfortable utilizing them. The CMO Alliance zeroed in on the crucial role that employees okay in making sure that the transition is a successful one. After all, “70 percent of initiatives fail mainly because of employee resistance and lack of management support.”

So how do you ensure that you don’t fall into that unfortunate group? That process begins with understanding the three types of team members you’ll confront along the AI journey. The Enthusiasts, the first type of members, have been chomping at the bit to get started and advocate for AI adoption at every turn. These folks are powerful champions, but they also come with some potential drawbacks. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds and could potentially get your marketing organization in trouble with the legal and IT departments by putting confidential information into AI tools.

The second subset, the Skeptics, will resist AI right off the bat as they see it as an existential threat to their jobs. These folks need to be shown the light, and the onus is on you to illuminate them on how AI can act as a powerful efficiency tool as well as an amplifier and accelerator of good content–and not as a detriment.

Lastly, you’ll encounter the third type the Pragmatists, who will ultimately be your most trusted confidantes. These folks can be the objective evaluators of how AI tools compare to what you’re currently doing and make recommendations on where AI can be most impactful.

How We’re Approaching It

At Starfish, we’re using pragmatism as our North Star as we begin to incorporate it into our processes. We’ve form a task force to evaluate and provide recommendations on where to use it. So far, we’ve seen AI’s capacity to create efficiencies in several areas, including day-to-day client and project management as well as in summarizing large sets of data. It’s given us the capacity to process research data and information, cutting 30-40 percent of the time with the future potential for as much as 60 percent. It has also benefited everyone along the value chain.

Our task force is charged with avoiding some of the pitfalls that come with AI integration. To avoid sharing any proprietary information, we anonymize the data that we input. We also avoid using AI tools in generating content. This isn’t just a creative choice, but it’s a practical one. Copyright infringement is just one of the potential hazards that could emanate from publishing AI-generated content without following all of the necessary guidelines.

Final Thoughts

The breakneck speed of adoption begs many questions. What are the potential implications for the workforce? What are the potential legal pitfalls? What creative possibilities are lost in the process? All of these questions can be answered by keeping an open mind, availing your team to the resources at their disposal, and beginning to incorporate these platforms into your workflow–but doing all of this while putting essential guardrails in place.

Those who will be successful will not use AI as a replacement but as a means to increase efficiency, speed of service, and profit margins, as well as overall enhance their business. Remaining pragmatic to its advantages while simultaneously remaining aware of its risks will guarantee that navigate this process in a safe and lucrative way. AI is ultimately not substitute to the creative process but merely an amplifier. Like anything else, it’s only as good as the questions you ask. So, give it a go and ask away.

Written By: David Kessler

Starfish is a branding and creative communications agency that ignites powerful customer connections through the discipline of brand experience.

David Kessler

Starfish CEO | Global Marketing Executive | Brand Strategist


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