Artificial Intelligence and Brand Identity: here, now and into the future

Interview with Alberto Canazza, Head of Strategy and Innovation @Young Digitals

We are creatures of habit.

Proof positive are the many studies showing how customers look to the consistency of the brand as a way of gauging the credibility and quality of the experience offered.

Yet, all it takes is one wrong note to ruin the magic of the composition: interaction on and offline must be fluid if you want to make a lasting impression.

Fortunately for us, AI technology can help us to ensure consistent communication. It could help us, for example, with the semantic understanding of the message (we talked about it here). The classification work carried out by cognitive engines, in fact, would allow us to have a centralized hub where every content of the brand exists and is recoverable in a single version, which can be dynamically adapted to the chosen channel.

But let's have a closer look at how Brand Identity might develop in the algorithm era. We discussed it with Alberto Canazza, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Young Digitals.

Young Digitals, a creative digital studio with a client portfolio that includes leading multinationals the likes of Coca Cola, Volkswagen, Adidas and Carlsberg as well as all-Italian brands such as Fendi, San Carlo, Matilde Vicenzi and De’Longhi, has been designing and creating content that brings brands closer to the expectations of their users since 2010. But that’s not all. As well as creating the content, it also delivers it over any platform, across multiple channels, and with an integrated, global reach.


Q: In the “State of the Connected Customer” report, by Salesforce, 81% of consumers said they expect the same level of service each time they interact with an organization across different channels. Why do you think it’s so important to have integrated communication to assure Brand Identity? 

A: In some respects, the answer is in the question: consumers expect continuity of experience with a company, whatever touchpoint they use.  When you think about it, even though it might differ from the paradigms of a few years ago, there’s nothing strange about expecting consistency from the people we interact with.  It’s important just to recognize that each touchpoint, despite any technical or functional differences, is still part of the experience between A and B.  

An integrated approach to communication, which does not mean standardizing it across channels but assuring semantic continuity across different touchpoints, is the only sensible way to do communication.  Any further fragmentation is a step backwards, often taken to meet the organizational needs of marketing divisions and agencies and not for the purposes of communication.


Q: What do you think Artificial Intelligence can do to help brands deliver consistent experiences across all touchpoints? 

A: Several scenarios have been postulated, some being little too futuristic in my opinion, but basically they claim advanced Artificial Intelligence could be the brand's voice in all touchpoints. But that would be like saying the perfect customer service operative could be all in stores around the world at the same time. 

If we stay rooted in our current world and leave such imaginings to Black Mirror for another few years, I'd say the most sensible applications are the customization of the customer experience based on user recognition, and the automation of the test-learn-update process in communication.  No doubt, the question of man-machine interaction and the interpretation of natural language are also relevant.

These frontiers seem more realistic as a focus of our discussions and efforts to product tangible results. Brands and agencies must then make these technologies an integral part of solutions used to shape the user experience, and not just playing about with them as useful “gizmos”.


Q: What role does Content Marketing play in building Brand Identity? Do you think Artificial Intelligence could be used to measure Content ROI

A: I find it difficult to talk about “content” and “content marketing” because the terminology has been over-used, often with different meanings or without ever clearly defining them.  What is content marketing? Is it the creation of articles and editorial content for websites? Or anything coming from the brand which might be interesting or useful in terms of user entertainment or digital engagement?

In the latter interpretation, which is probably the only sensible one, the key concept is the quality of interest and the usefulness of the content: this quality connects content to users and when it’s done properly, it shows us how real “content marketing” is only a small percentage of the enormous amount of information generated, most of which is purely self-referential. So, if we see content marketing as relationship-building, I think I can safely say that it’s the only way, in the digital world at least, to meet users who are not out looking for you.  

As regards the role of AI in measuring content marketing, and not just its ROI, it's bewildering to think how automatic systems can analyze large volumes of data, carry out split-tests without human intervention, find recurring patterns and connect themes, language, technical features and many other characteristics of content.  Solutions like these could radically change the way content marketing is designed but also the whole customer experience.

We've reached a stage in which new solutions are emerging, some of which are highly experimental. The market will obviously decide which ones will become constants in the customer experience designed by brands in ten years’ time. As part of this process, I think the ability to simplify how they are narrated and what use they are to users will be key.