Beware the AI Sea of Sameness (Or it Just Might Sink Your Brand!)

Andrew Boulton
October 26, 2023
5 mins
Between you and I, a well-known brand we spoke to earlier this week said they’d abandoned their plans to use a generic AI tool. Why? Because of what they called ‘the sea of sameness’.

It would be fair to say that many of the brands who embraced AI early on are feeling that same sense of despondency. Yes, these tools make you faster – but they don’t make you any different from anyone else. And what’s the use in being fast but forgettable?

The reality is that AI without context, without industry knowledge and without an intimate understanding of your brand will do you more harm than good. Everybody recognises now that brand, voice and a distinctive personality matter to customers – consciously, or subconsciously, it helps determine choice and is the foundation for whatever loyalty is up for grabs.

So, while it would be easy for us to stick some generic AI generator into the market, how could we possibly square that with our vision to rid the world of bad shopping experiences?

For our research and development team, the challenge has always been to create AI tools that ‘get’ the brands who’ll be using them. Tools that must first learn the brand, industry, and the audience (or, rather, audiences) before it can be of any value.

The AI Prompt Problem

The challenge here is around a frequently misunderstood element of AI – the prompt. The idea that writing an effective prompt is pretty much the same as asking something of Google is widely assumed, and entirely misleading. Many of us are still asking broadly for search results when we should be giving explicit commands.

The engineering of prompts is a seriously undervalued skill – and one that, if mastered and made available to business users, could easily bridge the gap between faster outputs and better experiences.

Of course, one of the main reasons behind such a rapid uptake of AI is that anyone can ask AI to do something. But a vague prompt can only ever take you to an irrelevant or uninspiring result. That’s why the engineering of prompts is occupying the thoughts and efforts of so many brands looking to create faster, more inspirational  experiences.

With generic AI, the time it takes fiddling about with the prompt probably negates any benefit you get from generating content in the first place. And surely nobody peddling an AI solution can seriously expect a business user to fill in prompt forms with hundreds of words and a dozen fields. Yet without that level of detail as an input, how can anyone possibly promise the distinctive, on-brand content their audiences will expect?

Content With Context

What our development team are most interested in, as they bring our AI products to life, is how to develop intelligent – and genuinely helpful – prompting tools. In other words, to create solutions where expertise in prompt engineering isn’t a requirement for success with AI.

Such an integrated, intuitive prompting tool – that simplifies this process, but still provides the crucial context the AI needs to produce content you’ll be proud to publish – is ultimately what will make the difference between AI that only moves fast and AI that thinks big.

The aim, in fact, is to automate something that marketers already do, effectively but manually – create a brief that will yield impactful, compelling content. As our own VP of Product Marketing, Ali Hanyaloglu, says: “Remember, this is all analogous to what marketers do today… they create a brief for the work needed, a creative takes it and they go back and forth until they get something. An intelligent engine for prompting AI simply augments what humans do now, but with the ability to create content, not only faster, but with real contextual relevance.”

Our view is that it’s less a matter of upskilling your prompt expertise and more about adopting a model that has mastered every aspect of your brand and business. Ultimately, AI will empower the businesses who can control it, and integrate it fully into their world and the world of their customers. Without that control, we’re all just bobbing around on the sea of sameness, hoping the competition springs a leak before we do.