Our new blog contributor, Jesse Ingalls, imparts his wisdom on the importance of establishing a written and visual brand tone on social media, and how artificial intelligence will play into it in the future. Aka now.
Oh, and also breaks the news that Hollywood has been lying to you.
Doubtful that friendly Gita could ever turn on you.
So. Ai. It’s a thing now.
Like not just a thing in movies, or a thing sometime off in the not so distant future that you might see come to fruition eventually. Eventually is probably this year. And probably is actually for sure.
Now, go ahead and open a new tab and Google “what is AI” — we’ll be right here when you get back. Side note: who spends time on the Internet with just one tab open anyway? The elderly, and everyone who still uses Netscape, that’s about it. While you’re at it check out our feature on how AI will double your marketing performance to get better acquainted with the topic.
Hey 👋 ! Welcome back.
We’re not alone when we say that AI is kind of freaky though, right? Even just mentioning artificial intelligence conjures up ominous thoughts, like, iRobot or Ex Machina, for example. Both cautionary tales of a bleak future where the human kind and machines struggle to co-exist.
Spoiler alert: Hollywood did us all dirty, planting the seed of apprehension in our heads and making us fear the incorporation of artificial intelligence in our everyday lives. Contrary to what the prevalent storyline in all these movies would have you believe, machine learning is not out to get the human species.
Here's a little plot twist: we’re here to open your mind to a new visual reality that is not being served up by Tinseltown. The actual future of artificial intelligence. It goes a little something like human & machine vs. problem instead of human vs. machine. Totally different story, right? Yes, AI can become the Robin to your Batman.
So now that we've established the falsehoods and squashed all possible preconceived notions of AI brought forth by showbiz, we can all agree that it is not the equivalent of the girl crawling out of the TV in the Ring (sorry not sorry, just had to squeeze that last movie reference in there). That said, let’s dig a little deeper into exactly how it’s here to help and how you can rule social media if you embrace machine learning.
But before we get into how AI will become your superhero sidekick, we thought it might be important to explore why creating visual and written tone guidelines for your brand voice is crucial, especially during these times we call the future. Your social tone of voice will be instrumental in helping you succeed once computer vision descends upon the masses.
Let's break it down.
Apologies to all the rebels out there, but rules are not meant to be broken in this case.
People build businesses around an idea that solves a problem, or maybe because they have a unique perspective, or just a super cool idea. They don't do it to be like everyone else. And in 2017, it's imperative for all businesses to exist across every visual touchpoint. Especially social media, where most Millennials live.
Now riddle me this: what is the number 1 rule of effective branding? You guessed it, rules. You probably think of that word and harken back to weeknight high school curfews, or being told by your mother when and how you need to clean your room. You’re thinking "rules suck". We feel you, trust.
Brand strategy rules, on the contrary, are actually meant to enhance the process and make the work more fun. Surprise! In this case, strict parameters will help you to harbor a world (a unique one if you get it right) within an environment where you actually get to make your own rules instead of being handed a ready-made set that doesn’t work for you.
Let’s use NIKE as an example. Their branded content is instantly distinguishable, from the type treatment (uppercase Futura italic) to the photographic execution (hyper-stylized border on oversaturated color treatment) and copy (succinct athletic encouragement). You just know it’s NIKE.
Those three elements together encapsulate the NIKE brand DNA. Consumers have seen the results of these self-imposed rules by the sports giant so many times, that they instantly recognize that it’s NIKE at first glance. We know it because they stick to those “pesky” rules that are vitally important, as it turns out.
Not all rules are meant to be broken. Just [don't] do it.
You need to create a box for yourself. Not so you can feel boxed in, but so you actually feel free. This might sound confusing, but stay with us. Human beings struggle with infinite choice, which leads to analysis paralysis. In high school, if a teacher offered the opportunity to “do a project on whatever you want,” you’d spend the majority of the project timeline just figuring out what topic to choose.
We’ve all been there. A post needs to go out and you haven’t the slightest clue what to publish. After a mild anxiety attack, followed by heavy breathing into a brown paper bag, you gather your wits about you and realize that you indeed know what you're doing. You’ve already been successfully building a brand world with every image and adjoining copy you share across your channels.
And your ultimate parameter? The box that is your brand. This is what makes that lightbulb go on when it's crunch time. See? Structure is liberating. When you're freestyling on a piece of content without clear direction or vision, you can so easily get it wrong. Like using hashtags on Facebook. 🤔
Ok. Good. Now that we’ve established that the core of your brand comes from a smart boxed-in, rule-heavy introspection that lends to a distinguishable written and visual tone, where exactly do we go from here?
Time to chat interior design...
What does your living room look like?
Think of your brand as a living room. No seriously, give it a try. What kind of furniture is in there? Fixtures? What is the artwork on the wall – is it stock from Ikea, a Basquiat print from your last trip to the museum? Or is it from some über obscure Etsy vendor? Is there a rug or no rug? How often do you vacuum? Do you have a Rumba? (BTW, Rumba is a form of AI, natch.)
Thinking of your brand in this way will help you find the adjectives that describe your brand flow. These descriptives are used to create the brand pillars that establish your voice and guide your overall tone. They’re vitally important.
Let’s use an example that is universal, @fuckjerry.
Universal. Definitely universal.
After a deep scroll, we can begin to suss out and reverse engineer the pillars of the FuckJerry brand. You probably think it’s all fun and games, and it is, but the decision-making process surrounding all those memes you like to tag your bestie in (content sharing) is impeccably executed. It's also the reason why the account now sits at over 11 million followers.
You can argue that you don’t like FuckJerry but that’s subjective. You can’t argue that FuckJerry isn’t consistent, recognizable and memorable, which is exactly what every brand should aspire to when it comes their online presence.
Essentially, FuckJerry is the college frat house living room. Let's break it down.
- The side table is a beer fridge that is always stocked to the tits. It also has those old school letter magnets. Inappropriate notes adorn the façade of the fridge at all times.
- So we can say, the brand's overall tone is modern day college humor with bits of nostalgia.
- Furniture is either hand-me-down, or discovered on a curb.
- So we can say the visual aesthetic is organized chaos, thriving off of a mishmash, collage style aesthetic.
- There is always someone hanging out, even if they don’t live there, and even if it’s 2PM in the afternoon.
- So we can say, volume of posts is very high.
- The walls are decorated with posters from the poster sale in the quad. They aren’t in frames.
- So you can say this brand thrives off pop culture rhetoric and commentary.
- If you walked in on a party in there, you’d find the jocks chopping it up with the marching band, and the improv team plotting a scheme with the Caribbean club.
- So we can say the brand is inclusive and diverse.
They say an idea isn’t an idea until it’s written down. Until your brand's fundamental pillars are spelled out somewhere, it doesn’t count. Like when you claim to get a hole in one on the hardest mini putt hole but no one actually sees the ball go in. That means, if you want to be funny, what kind of funny do you want to be? Dry? Vulgar? Inappropriate? Crass? PG? Figure it out.
The options are endless and until you have a firm grasp, your brand is susceptible to inconsistent messaging, bka social media suicide. Same goes for your visual style. Once these fundamental pillars are established, articulated, and put into practice, you’ll be laughing all the way to the engagement bank.
Here are the @FuckJerry brand pillars, which you likely would have found written in Elliott Tebele’s office somewhere.
- Random AF
- "Good artists copy, great artists steal" –Pablo Picasso
- Impact outline – the most commonly used meme font
- Concise and to the point
Now make sure you do this same exercise for your brand and always refer back to it when creating content. If you can check off more than half the items on your list, then schedule that post and give yourself a congratulatory Instagram scroll on your personal account, not your work one. You’ve done good.
It all comes together – how may AI help you?
There’s more data than ever before. In fact, so much so that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Remember, machine learning runs off its ability to identify patterns and form algorithms out of massive datasets. A human cannot even begin to fathom how much information 90% of the world’s data is.
Is your mind blown right now? Cause it should be.
It’s like that scene in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey where Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world’s coolest scientist, illustrates just how big the observable Universe is. The scene starts on earth, and then pans out to reveal our solar system, then the galaxy, then the super galaxy, and finally the observable universe. You get to the end, squinting your eyes to try and find where you started right before your brain essentially implodes on itself. A computer watches that same scene, and shrugs nonchalantly, “yah, duh.”
Creatives love to tell you otherwise, but creativity is actually pretty scientific. There are always patterns. ALWAYS. And if computers could have wet dreams, they would be about patterns. Your dreams are different.
On the surface, you can get a computer to understand taste, but there is an innate cognitive empathy that defines taste and that cannot be programmed. Taste is also closely related to trend-setting, not trend-recognizing, which is what AI is programmed to do. Not to mention, it’s really important to take into consideration that many of the best social media strategies work because they are counter-intuitive. Finally, a computer doesn’t have a gut to trust, but you do.
AI is the offensive lineman, whereas you are the quarterback. Here’s a better way of saying it - AI is the big brute that no one knows by name and you are Tom Brady. Everyone knows Tom Brady, right?
With all of this data at your fingertips, ready to be leveraged to make you better at your job, now is the most critical time to establish that ever-important box around your brand. The more laser precise and consistent your content, the better artificial intelligence will serve you. Machine and computer vision thrive at recognizing patterns, and your established visual and written voice is your brand's unique pattern.
Say goodbye to mindlessly thumbing through page upon page of UGC, just to find one image that might work. AI will go through the vast, infinite expanse that is the internet, and will provide you, Tom Brady, with a tailor-made catalog of images that best represents your brand. It will also tell you which visual touchpoint they will be most successful on, based on an algorithm that teaches itself. There is no elaborate brief required or back and forth 40-email-deep thread to make sure you and your computer friend are on the same page. You just put in a simple request and then get results. It’s that easy.
Hate (but also love) to break it to you — it’s officially the future. This isn’t a, “hey the future is gonna be here some time soon.” PSA: the future has landed and decided to stick around. The time has come to think about how you're going to positively leverage this new technology into your workflow so that you can spend more time drinking mimosas on a Tuesday, and hopefully on a Wednesday too.
Want to learn more about visual intelligence and computer vision? Get in touch today (right after you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below 👇).