Staying Relevant in an AI World


A few months ago, our agency was asked to design a package for a potential client who had used inspiration that was pulled from AI. They had prompted AI with other brands of interest and the resulting design was strikingly like the inspiration with a few differences.

Similarly, a few weeks ago, I was at an event where I was approached by someone who had designed a package using AI. It incorporated elements that had been pulled from the internet and were morphed into something new yet familiar. They wanted to know if we could turn the idea into a usable format by rolling out the graphics to a mechanical that could be printed.

To say the least, AI is making its way into the design world. It’s becoming easier for people to turn a vision into reality at the click of a button, even if that reality is a mash-up of images that are a bit deformed. At BrandFirst, we are accustomed to clients coming to us in need of brand strategy, package design, thought leadership, and above all, original ideas. The question is, will we be expected to simply execute AI-generated concepts that a tech bot mindlessly churned out? I hope not, because I know we can offer so much more.

This does beg some questions, however. First, how do copyrights work with AI? Is AI-generated imagery and/or content able to be trademarked? Is it permissible to be used in artwork that is then resold for a profit? Obviously, AI is pulling their content and imagery from somewhere, but it’s not like it offers a byline or source with its output. Beyond that, how does making something for the sake of a pretty picture then translate into a brand that has substance behind it?

At the same time, I am intrigued by AI. I have experimented with it, and I find its capabilities quite remarkable, even if not yet refined. But wow, how it has grown in even just a few months! (It’s scary how much will change in a few years.) The speed at which it is advancing dances on the line of fear and excitement with so many unanswered questions. Perhaps we can use AI to our benefit for tasks such as brainstorming and developing an idea from which original concepts and designs could stem from. In essence, there may be a way to collaborate instead of competing.

While I believe AI can be a source of inspiration and utilized as a means of brainstorming or as a thought starter for an idea, I am reluctant to embrace it fully. It’s obvious when an email is written by an AI program, and I immediately delete it because I know it’s not authentic. I can also tell when an image is created by AI because it has a certain look to it. It’s just not quite right most times. After all, AI is pulling imagery from all over the internet, and you never know what you’re going to get. You also run the risk of looking like everything else. If you are pulling from existing content, nothing is truly original, it’s all going to blend in, leaving it difficult to get ahead of your competition. In turn, leveraging the right creative partners to develop a comprehensive strategy and craft authentic brand experiences that emphasize unique points of differentiation is a personalized approach to generating content that AI can’t quite deliver.

Nonetheless, the technology is inevitably here to stay, and we are going to have to learn to work with it, not against it, if we are going to remain relevant. I do think there is a time and a place for AI, but the lines are blurred and have yet to be better defined. I may play around with it from time to time, but for me, AI is never going to replace good old fashioned brain power and talent.

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