Another day, another AI rumour. There are now so many social media posts, Tik Toks, blogs and articles chronicling the rise of AI that it can be overwhelming to understand what AI is and where it’s going. The conversation surrounding AI, its potential and its capacity to replace humans rumbles on – with more experts and non-experts weighing in every day.

It’s natural to wonder whether jobs within the professional creative space are safe due to the emergence of AI. After all, many companies have already laid off skilled workers who have been swiftly replaced with AI technologies. Despite this, there are many limitations to consider when it comes to swapping human minds for machines.

In an agency setting, a human touch is still invaluable and irreplaceable. A collaborative and tentative approach to implementing AI is best at this stage – and it’s certainly nowhere near replacing the skilled professionals who work within an agency from graphic designers and SEO experts to copywriters, project managers and marketing strategists.

Here we explore the different areas where AI is limited compared with human experience and expertise within the branding and marketing space – as well as sharing some innovative ways agencies can employ AI tools to help enhance their offering and support client success.

1. Design

AI-powered tools are truly remarkable when it comes to generating relevant and good quality design – from social media content and packaging to entire visual advertising campaigns. Design-focused AI tools can produce a logo for your brand, create custom illustrations and graphics and even develop realistic-looking portraits and computer-generated images.

The thing about great design is that to be truly imaginative, immersive and interactive, it is always going to need an element of human involvement. AI currently lacks the empathy and consciousness to appreciate and implement key aspects of great design and branding, such as nuance and emotional understanding.

Another issue with AI-generated design is uniqueness and originality. A human designer will thoroughly assess every aspect of your business and create branding or visual collateral to align with that on every level. Since your business is unique, your design will also be unique, based on the information gathered. AI is incapable of this process – but it’s also powered by limited data when it comes to an industry, target market or product. AI can learn, but it is still restricted in its depth of knowledge compared with an experienced human professional.

This affects the quality and relevance of designs produced, but it also runs the risk of employing visual content that looks very similar (if not the same) as an existing design. Copyright law hasn’t caught up with advancing technology yet – but this could still leave agencies open to some difficult conversations and potentially damaging consequences. 

2. Content

Much of the conversation surrounding high-profile AI software ChatGPT and its capabilities focus on content writing. There are a lot of people out there who believe that ChatGPT can completely replace the need for a copywriter through generating blogs and social content with just one click.

The content ChatGPT can create is remarkable – but it isn’t a substitute for copy written by a human just yet. It lacks personality and isn’t written with engagement or user experience in mind. AI cannot develop and implement tone of voice, for example, or discern what’s relevant or appropriate to include in line with a brand’s identity and values. Content generated by AI is very ‘flat’ and generally reads a little like an encyclopaedia, with one tone of voice and a focus on delivery of information rather than connection or interaction with the reader.

As mentioned above, there’s some debate currently around originality and ownership when it comes to AI. Is the visual and written content generated by AI technology ever truly unique? And who can claim rights t it? This is an important issue any business relying on AI for content generation needs to be aware of – especially agencies who are entrusted with taking care of this on another company’s behalf.

Instagram and Tik Tok are filled with influencers sharing ‘ChatGPT prompts that will CHANGE the way you do business’.

These prompts are useful because they can very quickly produce key data and recommendations based on your unique requirements. The information is also personalised based on your specific query, industry and objective, provided you are smart with the prompt you enter.

3. Strategy

But as is usually the case with this type of thing, it’s not quite the cut and dried route to success online influencers make it out to be. Although these tools and techniques can help agencies to some degree, AI technology is once again limited when it comes to producing key data and recommendations you can depend on or base an entire marketing strategy upon.

Specific experience, skills and knowledge are required to develop and run strategies for different clients – things AI cannot understand or appreciate.

How can AI help marketing agencies?

There is of course an upside to AI. Although it’s unlikely to replace human creatives in the near future, it will certainly replace many of the systems and ways of working agencies currently rely on. Many agencies are already implementing AI technologies within their teams and processes to enable the professionals they employ to work smarter rather than harder, increasing capacity and optimising results.

Areas in which agencies can benefit from AI include:

Technologies such as ChatGPT make conducting research for brands, content and strategies incredibly quick and easy. It’s also simple to organise and categorise the information you’ve gathered ready for presentation or implementation. Exercise caution here, though – some AI software is populated with outdated information which is 6-12 months behind – so if you want up-to-the-minute data you’ll need to check this first.

SEO experts are using AI to better understand trends and outcomes so that they can implement more effective strategies for clients. AI software can analyse and produce data on a large scale in seconds and can present in a clearer and easier to digest manner, so this can save a lot of time and enhance efficiency.

AI is increasingly being used to automate various aspects of a company’s marketing strategy – from social media scheduling to meeting planning and diary management. As we covered above, it’s best not to rely on AI to produce designs or written content for your business – but it can certainly assist with organisational or scheduling elements freeing up more time for your marketing experts to do what they do best.

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