12 July 2023

The new co-worker everyone is talking about: AI and the future of brand voice.

by Leigh Morrow

The know-it-all newcomer, no-break, no-holiday people pleaser.  

AI is the new co-worker that’s causing quite the stir. ChatGPT, YouWrite, WordTune and Jasper are just a few of the countless copy generators out there. With the ability to generate paragraphs of text in mere seconds, what does this mean for the future of brands and their brand voice? Should we embrace the new-age tech or run screaming from the AI-pocalypse?  

Like your brand logo, colour palette, and typeface – your brand voice makes up the distinct personality, tone and style used to communicate and connect with audiences. It encompasses the words, rhythm and overall feel of your brand’s content. With the sudden influx of generated copy, what are some of the potential knock-on effects for the future of brand writing?   

Speed, productivity, and brainstorming.  

AI outpaces human thinking. The speed at which it generates ideas, replicates styles and completes tasks is scarily impressive. The opportunities this creates for streamlined workflows, quicker project deliveries, cost efficiencies and scale are exciting. This may have a huge effect on how we work as teams and where we spend our time. It may eliminate the need for larger teams or reduce time spent on basic tasks, leaving more space for creative and strategic thinking time. Additionally, as these tools advance, the potential for brainstorming, enhanced creativity and new pathways of thinking are ever-growing. With hundreds of ideas generated in seconds, AI lets you approach ideation with a more editorial eye.  

So, clearly, AI has a place in enhancing the creative process, but could it replace it?  

Empathy, creativity and originality. 

With the explosion of generated content, it’s now even harder for brands to stand out. Crafting a unique voice and point of view is critical – and writing is a key component to creating meaningful connections with customers. Good brand writing is all about resonating with the consumer, tapping into their innate human needs, desires, and fears. Authentic storytelling, empathy and personalisation can be the cornerstones to long-lasting customer relationships, influencing people to feel, think and act differently. AI can get close, but it lacks the empathic, “humanness” of writing that is critical to persuasion.  

Creativity is also uniquely human. Memorable writing often pulls on colloquialisms, metaphors, turn of phrases and humour, drawing insight from lived experiences. AI’s current capacity to think or link independently is limited, and the output can often feel one-dimensional. It’s a fascinating tool to sharpen up your thinking – but typically the ideas it generates are only as good as the quality and diversity of the prompts you give it.  

Plus, we’re still in the early days of understanding this type of tech. AI can be “stupid in ways we can’t predict” (watch this great skit from John Oliver here). Sometimes these chatbots confidently generate falsified content or tweak the truth. These so-called “artificial hallucinations” can be convincing, so it’s essential to always fact-check and apply your own critical thinking. The existing regulations around ownership are also blurry. Of course, information trawled from the web must come from somewhere, but generative tools make it extremely easy for people to unknowingly create content already belonging to someone else (check out this dispute by Reddit). Despite some businesses tackling this problem (see Adobe Firefly case), usage rights and plagiarism are still of major concern, particularly in the copywriting field.  

What does this mean for brand voice?  

As AI pervades all types of content and media, it’s even more important to stand out from the generic chatter. A well-defined voice creates consistency, builds trust and fosters emotional connections with audiences. While AI has amazing capabilities, it still lacks the depth, emotion and creativity of genuine brand writing. Although it will undoubtedly enhance the creative process, it’s difficult to say whether it will replace it. Having an authentic brand voice is still a strategic advantage that helps make lasting impressions in an oversaturated market.  

AI is reshaping and reinventing the copywriting landscape, heightening our creative abilities and pushing existing boundaries to reach new levels of innovation. It’s what Spotify did for music, what low-cost airlines did for air travel, and what Photoshop did for design. Creating tools to enhance our lives is how we evolve, and if we don’t embrace them, we get left behind.  Ultimately, AI is a tool that will augment human creativity. A tool that has the potential to transform our industry for the better, if used with wisdom and care. But like any tool, we should learn when to use it, how to use it, and be mindful of its limitations.