This realization struck me during a recent AI training session I conducted with a public relations company. As I introduced them to image creation AI tools, they asked an insightful question: "Is it possible to make these images according to our visual identity?" They were referring to the color palettes, preferred stock image styles, and other elements provided by their branding agency.

But how could they apply these guidelines to generative AI tools like Midjourney or ChatGPT? How could they ensure that the images produced would align with their overall visual identity or that generated texts match their overall communication style?

These questions led me to dig deeper into this topic, and I came to understand that there is indeed a need to review the current practices of branding guidelines development.

This is particularly evident on social media, where I've noticed public relations departments filling their posts with randomly generated images. The result often feels disjointed, as if I'm not communicating with the same brand.

To address this issue, I propose breaking down the topic into two areas: textual guidelines and visual guidelines. In this blog post, I will explore both areas, starting with the concept of brand voice and its application in generative AI tools.

Textual Guidelines for Generative AI: Harnessing the Power of Brand Voice

In generative AI, the concept of "brand voice" takes on a new level of importance. Brand voice is more than just the words we choose; it's the personality that permeates every piece of content a company produces. It's the tone, the style, the rhythm of language that makes a brand instantly recognizable, even when the logo is not in sight. In the era of generative AI, maintaining a consistent brand voice is crucial to ensuring a coherent and authentic brand image.

Fortunately, many popular AI tools are designed with this in mind. Platforms like ChatGPT, Writesonic, and offer features that allow users to define their brand voice. This involves determining the writing style that best represents the company, including factors like tone, language, and use of emojis. Once defined, this brand voice can be used to guide the output of generative AI tools, ensuring that all generated content aligns with the company's brand image.

But how does a company identify its unique language style?

One method is to use AI tools themselves. For instance, with ChatGPT you can analyze the examples of your past blog posts or social media posts to identify the distinct language style being used. It looks at sentence structure, word choice, and overall style to create a comprehensive picture of your brand voice. This information can then be written into "custom instructions" in ChatGPT or “brand voice” in other AI writing tools, helping to ensure consistency across all generated content.

You can also use ChatGPT to develop your company's brand voice, if you haven't done it yet. Below are the examples of how ChatGPT describes the brand voices of Microsoft and Apple for example:

Microsoft's Brand Voice According to ChatGPT:

1. Maintain a Balance of Professionalism and Approachability:

  • Vocabulary: Utilize jargon judiciously. While technical terms might be necessary at times, always aim for words that are widely understood. Pair specialized terms with clear and straightforward explanations or analogies to ensure accessibility.
  • Sentence Constructions: Employ sentences that are concise yet informative. Opt for active voice and steer clear from overly complex sentence structures. Clarity should be the priority.
  • Style Nuances: Engage with the audience using a helpful and enlightening tone. While maintaining a professional demeanor, infuse your writing with optimistic and enabling undertones.

2. Prioritize Inclusivity and Empowerment:

  • Always frame messaging in a way that underscores the collective — "we," "us," and "our." Ensure that content resonates with a diverse and global audience.
  • Accentuate stories or scenarios wherein individuals and organizations are empowered through Microsoft’s solutions.

3. Adopt a Solution-Oriented and Collaborative Approach:

  • Focus on showcasing how Microsoft’s products and services act as solutions to varied challenges faced by users from different walks of life.
  • Integrate elements of collaboration, teamwork, and partnership in scenarios, ensuring that the utility of Microsoft’s suite in collaborative contexts is highlighted.

Apple's Brand Voice According to ChatGPT:

1. Craft a Narrative of Innovation and Vision:

  • Vocabulary: Implement a lexicon that resonates with novelty, invention, and foresight. Choose words that invoke a sense of the future and continuous advancement.
  • Sentence Constructions: Use sentences that are sleek and direct, ensuring that every word serves a purpose and contributes to the overarching narrative.
  • Style Nuances: Engage in a manner that subtly commands attention and piques curiosity, always hinting at what lies beyond the horizon.

2. Embrace Minimalism and Elegance:

  • Ensure that every message is stripped down to its essence, valuing quality over quantity in terms of word choice and informational content.
  • Adopt a clean and uncluttered writing style, where simplicity and clarity shine through every sentence and paragraph.

3. Inspire Through Aspirational and Exclusive Narratives:

  • Craft content that not only highlights the functionality and aesthetics of Apple products but also stitches a narrative wherein the use of Apple products is synonymous with a specific, elevated lifestyle.
  • While maintaining an inspirational tone, incorporate a subtle thread of exclusivity, ensuring that the premium and unparalleled nature of Apple products is silently communicated through every piece of writing.

In conclusion, understanding and defining your brand voice is a critical step in leveraging generative AI effectively. By taking the time to identify and articulate your unique language style, you can harness the power of AI tools to create content that is not only engaging but also unmistakably 'you'.

Visual Guidelines for Generative AI: Painting the Future of Brand Identity

As I delve into the world of visual image creation AIs, I find myself navigating a landscape filled with both challenges and possibilities. Defining a brand's visual identity in the context of generative AI is not as straightforward as we might hope. Yet, with careful consideration and strategic planning, these AI tools can become a powerful extension of a company's branding strategy.

How to use brand in your AI generated images?
Nike imagined with Midjourney

One of the first challenges I encountered was the issue of color codes. In traditional branding guidelines, we often rely on specific color systems like Pantone or Hex to maintain consistency. However, image generation AIs do not strictly adhere to these precise codes. They require a degree of flexibility that might initially seem at odds with our usual approach to branding.

Despite this, I believe there are ways to guide the AI towards a company's brand identity. One method involves describing colors in words. If you're unsure how to do this, ChatGPT can help you out. By feeding an image of your color palette into ChatGPT, you can ask it to describe the colors in words. This provides a language that the AI can understand and use to generate images that align with your chosen color palette.

Beyond colors, another crucial aspect of visual identity is the medium type for illustrations. Is your brand best represented by photorealistic images, computer renders, pen and ink style illustrations, or vector graphics? The choice is vast, and the decision should reflect your brand's unique identity.

Once you've established your color palette and chosen your medium, the next step is to fine-tune your visual identity with specific ambiance or vibe keywords. These keywords can be woven into the prompts you give to the AI, helping to shape the overall feel of the generated images.

For instance, in our own illustrations, we use keywords like "futuristic" and "dreamy" to convey the forward-looking nature of our AI training. We also use images of friendly robots to emphasize the idea that AI is a helpful assistant, not a cold technological entity.

Example of how Productory uses Midjourney in branding
Productory's visual identity is fully created with AI

To summarize, creating your visual brand identity in the realm of generative AI requires a delicate blend of strategic planning and creative exploration. By comprehending the capabilities and constraints of these tools, you can leverage their potential to develop a visual brand identity that aligns seamlessly with your brand's image.

Implications for Branding Agencies: Embracing the Challenge of Generative AI

As we journey further into the age of generative AI, it's evident that branding agencies need to evolve as well. The tools and practices we suggest to our clients are undergoing transformation, and this shift brings about a fresh array of hurdles and prospects.

One of the key implications is the need for branding agencies to develop expertise in the AI tools in order to be able to develop AI branding guidelines.

This principle has always been true; for instance, understanding how PowerPoint works is essential to providing guidance on slide designs, and knowing the intricacies of print presses is crucial for advising on colors for printed materials. The same principle applies to generative AI tools. To craft effective prompts, brand voices, or guidelines for AI tools like DALL·E or Midjourney, branding agencies need to develop a deep understanding of these tools. They need to know what keywords and tokens will trigger certain outputs.

This presents a new challenge for branding agencies: understanding how generative AIs respond to different types of prompting.

It's not enough to simply know the tools; agencies must also understand the nuances of how these tools operate.

This requires a willingness to experiment and learn, to try out different prompts and see what results they yield. It's a process that demands time and patience, but the rewards can be significant.

By investing time in understanding and experimenting with generative AI, branding agencies can provide more effective guidance to their clients. They can help companies harness the power of AI to create content that is not only engaging and innovative but also aligns seamlessly with their brand identity.

To sum up, the emergence of generative AI brings both potential hurdles and advantages for branding agencies. By welcoming these shifts and allocating resources towards learning and trial-and-error, agencies can place themselves at the cutting edge of this thrilling new domain.

The Future of Branding in the Era of Generative AI

As we conclude this exploration into the intersection of branding and generative AI, it's clear that we stand on the precipice of a new era. The tools we use to communicate our brand messages are evolving, and with them, our approach to branding must adapt.

We've recognized the need for current branding guidelines to evolve, incorporating generative AI tools into their framework. We've delved into the concept of "brand voice" and its critical role in maintaining a consistent brand image. We've navigated the complex landscape of visual image creation AIs, discussing the challenges and possibilities of defining visual identity. And finally, we've considered the implications of these changes for branding agencies, highlighting the need for these agencies to develop expertise in the tools they recommend to their clients.

But this is more than just an adaptation; it's an opportunity. An opportunity to redefine how we present our brands to the world, to create more engaging, innovative, and authentic brand experiences. It's a chance to harness the power of AI, not as a replacement for human creativity, but as a tool that enhances and amplifies it.

So, as we move forward in this exciting era of generative AI, I encourage you to embrace these changes. Consider how you can incorporate these tools into your own branding guidelines. Experiment, learn, and don't be afraid to push the boundaries of what's possible.

The future of branding is here, and it's ours to shape. Let's seize this opportunity and chart a course towards a future where our brands are not just seen or heard, but truly experienced.