Brand Marketing vs AI. Brands belong to the people – Let’s get that straight

brand marketing and AI robotThis is a post about brand marketing and the introduction of AI. Like a good internet marketer I am supposed to keyword my posts to give them longevity. A quick scan suggests that nobody but nobody is looking for the application of AI to brand marketing. But the tech marketers are hard at work to put it on our radar anyway.  This morning I found a piece in Campaign magazine about  brand owners starting to use AI chat bots to interact with customers. Ads that talk to you and talk back if you answer them. (horrifying thought)  And then I find that there’s an exhibition about how brands themselves are getting talkative. The example given is that of Amazon Echo as Google and Apple have products in the pipeline that listen to us and do helpful things.  This isn’t brands building customer love(even if the Amazon box is called an Echo and the voice is called Alexa)  – this is about using voice recognition and computerised speech to interact and provide information.

Let’s be clear – a brand is the collective feelings and experiences of customers. There is no such thing as a brand which sits in head office and witters away exciting and moving messages to reduce the cost of sale. This kind of thinking has poisoned marketing and poisoned the internet. That’s why there is so much clutter. Because if you own the trademark you think all you have to do is hire some technologist and marketers. And start banging on. The internet is full of these dull self interested voices. That’s not the valuable part of a brand. That part was always the customers’ experience which is almost always derived from the kind of people they are. And their direct experience of the brand as users and buyers. Not as passive receivers (did I forget to say engaged?) of promotional crap.

Brand marketing accesses customer perceptions – it doesn’t impose on them

Persil-Laundry-Powder-Bio-500x50098% Pure PotatoOne of the most insightful comments we got from one of the interviews for our book 98% Pure Potato was from Lee Godden a  planner who worked on Persil who pointed out that Persil advertising didn’t MAKE customers wash their clothes better. It was because Persil housewives cared more about doing the washing properly that they liked and stayed loyal to Persil. The advertising was a way to cement a relationship which started and ended at the washing machine. Not in front of the television or a woman’s magazine.  But marketers and the purveyors of marketing services would rather tell you its all down to their hard work. They have had luckless graduates tweeting on-brand messages to persuade people to ‘engage’.  They have invented numerous ways to get messages to the customer forcing them to watch commercials before watching youtube videos, putting tactical messages onto mobile phones if you are walking past certain stores. This isn’t marketing. It’s harassment.  Brand marketing only works when the advertiser engages with the brand perceptions the customer ALREADY HAS. Advertising rarely plants anything. It retriggers and reframes.

The addition of AI marks a new low. Because it will be yet another opportunity for brands to bang on about themselves or to use cod segmentation to offer content rich discussion topics: I notice you drank an Argentine malbec last Friday – have you ever thought about taking a holiday in South America? And so on.  The marketing industry is running on borrowed time since marketing is getting less and less effective – it is taking more and more exposure to messages to achieve anything.  The addition of AI as brand pluggers can only hasten the decline.  The only way to reverse the rot is to reconnect with real customer experience. And stop trying to fake it.  Brand marketing doesn’t need AI as much as it needs real connections with real customers. End of Rant!


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