Published on November 16, 2023, 4:22 pm

In the realm of marketing, brand identity serves as a fortress that protects a company’s reputation and keeps competitors at bay. It’s evident in T-Mobile’s iconic magenta hue, which is fiercely guarded and protected. But in the age of generative AI, the very ramparts that have safeguarded brands could potentially hinder their future.

A notable advertising campaign by Heinz demonstrated the power of generative AI. Heinz used OpenAI’s DALL-E generator to create ketchup-inspired images, showcasing the brand’s top-of-mind awareness. While these AI-generated images may not have been perfect in terms of dimensions or colors, they undeniably represented Heinz. The campaign generated significant buzz worldwide, with 850 million earned impressions.

Generative AI has also made its mark in the world of academia. King’s College London used AI tools to bring their mascot, Reggie the lion, to life. Through animations and interactive features, Reggie became more than just a static symbol. This transformation led to a beloved mascot that resonated strongly with students and received overwhelmingly positive reactions.

The use of text-to-image AI models, like OpenAI’s DALL-E, allows for unprecedented levels of personal connection and customization in branding. Coca-Cola showcased this potential through their “Create Real Magic” initiative. They invited consumers to design advertisements using AI models, and winning entries were displayed on billboards in iconic locations such as Times Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Despite these exciting prospects, many brands are reluctant to embrace generative AI due to fears of losing control over their brand identity. However, it’s important for brand managers to shift their mindset from enforcers and guardians to enablers. Instead of obsessing over exact color values or rigid guidelines, they should focus on broader innovation and connection opportunities.

GoFundMe’s “Help Changes Everything” campaign exemplifies how brands can leverage text-to-image models to engage with donors on a personalized level. By using AI-generated street mural-style images, GoFundMe created a captivating video that resonated strongly with audiences.

Brand managers must strike a balance between creative freedom and control. While it’s essential to maintain oversight over brand portrayal, exploration within established boundaries is crucial. Coca-Cola’s protective measures, including using their own platforms and partnering with trusted text-to-image service providers like Bain and OpenAI, demonstrate how brands can mitigate risks while embracing innovation.

Addressing ethical and legal concerns is another crucial aspect of incorporating generative AI into branding strategies. Brand managers must stay informed about ownership and intellectual property rights related to AI tool companies. Companies like Adobe have taken proactive approaches by training AI models on openly licensed content and public-domain materials to ease customer concerns.

Collaborative IP creation agreements, such as Shutterstock’s Contributor Fund, provide compensation for creators whose images are used in training generative AI models. Brand managers should seek partnerships with platforms that have effectively mitigated IP risks and consider adding specific protections regarding licensing data in their contracts.

Overall, text-to-image generative AI models are reshaping the traditional branding landscape by presenting new opportunities, risks, and challenges. Every brand manager must ask themselves: Will you build bridges or barricades in this new era? Embracing the transformative potential of generative AI is a decision that will shape a brand’s future success in an increasingly dynamic marketing landscape.


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