When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, we are far from reaching the end of the road – especially when it involves new ways of reaching out to consumers. ‘Chatbots’, or the robots behind any customer service assistance you may encounter online, are starting to populate the digital world.
Before becoming the chatbots we know today, conversational interfaces started in the 1970s with text-based games where players could choose what their characters should do by responding to short text descriptions. Apple, Microsoft and others then introduced the Graphical User Interfaces to improve the user’s experience which was only the start to a long series of innovations within this field. Conversational interfaces are now emerging all over the place. However, it goes beyond the need to improve customer service; for brands it means rethinking their digital eco-system and start branding themselves as humans.
Just a couple of years ago, branding could have been summarized by finding the perfect logo, defining a clear brand identity, having the adapted packaging, using promotions and other attractive techniques to drag consumers’ attention. Market research then helped point out cultural and environmental differences and the importance of being customer-focused when developing a business’s marketing strategy. Today, Artificial Intelligence is drastically boosting and reshaping the evolution of branding. From a simple logo to the idea of creating human connections through technology, the question is: could brands ever develop a personality?
If we take a look at the application Siri: Apple created it with the intention of providing its customers with an “intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done”, but Siri has become more than that. It answers any type of questions and has a clearly defined voice which builds on a personality. Siri is a friend.
Other brands and companies have expanded this concept by creating their own chatbots. National Geographic practically created Albert Einstein by matching the chatbot’s voice to what Einstein would have sounded like for the promotion of a new documentary on his life – “Genius”, 2017. People could talk with the ‘genius’ himself. Just as in real life, the tone you adapt and the way you talk influences how you are seen by people and predicts some traits of your personality. Not only do conversational interfaces save time and improve customer support but if brands start having a distinct voice matching their values and the company’s culture, it will become more relatable, believable and relevant. This could be the future of branding.
Understanding how to recreate a human world through technology should be the key in this digital age. In the end, a brand is fundamentally a group of humans working together with the same purpose; sharing the company’s values and making profit. The idea of personalizing a brand’s voice has somehow already been used through emails, posts on social medias or even a company’s website. Conversational interfaces are only an extension of these already overused channels of communication.
This is why we asked ourselves what Constant would sound like if it was a person. Would it be a simple customer service assistant? Or would it be a creative brain? What would the tone of its voice be? What would be its purpose?
If Constant was a person, it would most probably be the ‘light-bulb-idea’ guy. Constant would be young and a pioneer in his industry. Just imagine what could happen if Constant’s chatbot was so performant it could provide clients with instant insights; it would have access to the agency’s emails and would be able to target its answers based on clients’ previous reactions. Using information available online, Constant would continuously generate ideas and match them to their different needs. Constant would have a distinct sense of humour, making his suggestions sound like they just come naturally. Before you know it, Constant will no longer be a human company and a bot will deal with your business requests.
Who would your company be? Now is probably a good time to ask the question.
FEELING MATERIAL VIII (HANGING), 2003
SUBLIME FIELD, 2005
All artwork by Antony Gormley.