The rise of generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT and Gemini, has been nothing short of breathtaking. In my industry, there is widespread examination of these tools, sometimes before they become public, as we’ve seen with OpenAI’s text-to-video creation tool Sora. While much of the discourse regarding GenAI has focused on automating work processes and job roles, there is a deeper dimension to explore.

We are only beginning to grapple with the bigger questions: How can AI genuinely transform a brand? Can it aid in understanding our audience on a profound level, craft narratives that resonate more deeply, or conceive entirely novel marketing concepts?

It’s uncharted territory, and the marketers who ask the right questions will help define and lead us into the future. Here are some questions I believe marketers must consider.

1. What is your strategy for business transformation?

Where do you envision your business in ten years? For instance, a traditional retail bank might aim to become a leader in digital financial services within 10 years. This may involve leveraging AI for everything from automating loan processing and underwriting to deploying AI-powered chatbots for 24/7 customer support. Yet, without thinking big and building for the long-term, you may risk confining GenAI to a narrow scope of process enhancement.

2. How can AI help you understand how your business transformation will affect that of your brand?

Note that I’m referring to AI here, rather than solely GenAI. It’s important to adopt a different approach to address this question. GenAI is not the tool to use here. GenAI provides a snapshot of the present day by analyzing historical data, yet it struggles to foresee future shifts, such as in customer values. For this, predictive AI is essential.

Predictive analytics can forecast future trends, shifts in customer values, and market dynamics. By integrating past data with real-time information, predictive models can offer scenarios illustrating how these changes might influence consumer behavior and brand perception.

For example, a clothing retailer might plan to deepen their focus on eco-friendly materials. Predictive AI can evaluate shifting consumer preferences to test and anticipate whether the new branding resonates with their target audience’s environmental values.

3. How can AI help you become a nimbler brand steward?

Brand stewardship requires adept navigation of present-day shifts in market dynamics, where new competitors can emerge overnight and global events can galvanize your customers and employees. AI-powered tools, such as social listening, offer invaluable assistance in this regard, examining these changes more efficiently than humans can.

For instance, if a food brand faces online backlash for an insensitive advertising campaign, AI-powered social listening tools quickly detect the negative sentiment and help pinpoint underlying issues, allowing the brand to respond promptly with appropriate strategy adjustments.

GenAI enhances these tools by swiftly sifting through vast quantities of text to identify common themes, feelings, insights, and experiences consumers share. Moreover, it excels at analyzing qualitative feedback and segmenting findings by demographic factors. This process allows for an in-depth examination of the perspectives individuals frequently express across different age groups, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and other societal segments regarding a brand.

4. How can AI help your brand show up and express its essence?

Brands are exploring innovative approaches to this question. For example, businesses are embracing AI-powered chatbots to create more human and relatable interactions, supplanting the robotic chatbots that have characterized the customer experience for years. In fact, brands can now develop digital personas that cultivate emotional trust in a brand by emulating human attributes beyond voice.

5. How can you improve your brand work?

We already recognize that GenAI excels at various tasks, from A/B testing content creation to developing dynamic customer personas. One particularly intriguing application is the development of digital customers, enabling brands to test new products and personalize marketing. AI-generated customers can outperform traditional personas by providing brands comprehensive feedback.

6. Do you have the skills on your team to use AI to do all the above?

This question encompasses both technical skills and AI literacy across the organization, including the development of effective AI prompting skills on your marketing team to guide GenAI toward desired outcomes. Success hinges on everyone understanding AI’s possibilities and limitations. As a leader, you need to make important decisions to ensure that your team is comfortable using AI.

7. Are you encouraging experimentation?

To harness AI effectively, trial and error is essential. I am not referring to dabbling with GenAI on the side (although dabbling is necessary and fun). I’m advocating for a culture of experimentation that includes such elements as:

  • Pilot projects: Start with small-scale AI projects to solve specific problems or improve processes.
  • Feedback loops: Establish mechanisms for feedback and learning from each project to iterate, improve, and scale successful initiatives.
  • Innovation mindset: Encourage creativity and risk-taking within the organization, rewarding innovative ideas and learning from setbacks.

If these questions sound familiar, they should. Successful businesses have been asking similar questions about all types of emerging technology ranging from the Internet to mobile for years. What these questions have in common is the idea that technology sparks transformation and can drive it. What sets AI apart? The speed of that transformation. By this time next year, we’ll have even more questions–questions we’re excited to ask, and answer.

Cover image: Volodymyr