Every day, artificial intelligence is becoming more empathy than pure logic, more face than interface. Soon, AI will be able to listen to the tenor of a customer’s voice, analyze their emotional state, and use this information to deliver appropriate responses – and become more finely tuned through each of those interactions.

For brand marketers, this rapid advance radically shifts the landscape. They must transition from controlling message and media to a new model based on unplanned conversations and emotional exchange. In short, as businesses become experiences, brands are becoming personalities.

Brand strategy will not be the same. In place of costly :30 spots, marketers and brand planners will instead forge new partnerships with developers and UX designers, driven by a shared truth: to create the best AI experience, a brand must uncover where it is most human.

Here are six guidelines to follow to develop a human AI brand strategy:

1) Begin With An Actual Human

Customers want more humanity from brands: a recent Edelman study finds that customers will actually stop using (and even boycott) brands that don’t match their values. Before involving AI, it’s necessary to really define the specifics around what the brand stands for and cares about. One of the best ways to go about this is identifying an actual employee within the organization who embodies the brand’s values and attributes as a living, breathing person.

2) Learn Everything You Need In Order To Construct An AI In The Image Of Your Human Example

Having that individual who embodies the brand ethos work 24/7 handling every customer interaction personally would be ideal; the obvious impossibility of that scenario is why AI comes in handy. The goal in this step is to recognize what elements are at the heart of both the brand’s identity and the best customer experiences it provides, so that AI can be utilized to deliver those experiences at scale.

To collect this information, a recommended technique is to act out various scenarios with the human the AI will be based on, noting everything from their reactions to sensitive situations to the style and manner in which they speak. Incorporating these foundational brand elements and attributes will enable the AI to offer consistent, human responses across all interactions.

3) Determine How Your AI Will Learn And Improve

An inherent strength of AI is its ability to learn and iterate to optimize its results. For this reason, it’s crucial to design an effective technical process to capture the data – the customer’s emotional reactions, linguistic patterns, conversation style, and more factors – that helps the AI learn, and to put that education into action.

4) Form A Plan For Continuous AI Training

The life-like nature of brand AI requires close, hands-on management by brand experts to monitor and guide development. With analytics empowering brand managers to understand the exact moments in conversations where the AI causes customers to feel pleased, annoyed, or other emotions, there will always be potential for the interface to evolve and optimize.

Brand managers can take this a step further by deciding how much variance the AI should exhibit in conversing with different customer types (while, of course, staying true to the core of the brand).

5) Choose Your AI’s Name Wisely

The name your customers associate with your AI should fit your brand and its story. If your brand is approachable, formal, whimsical, etc. – give your AI a name that conveys those attributes.

6) Be Clear And Honest About Using AI

It’s important that customers always understand when they are interacting with an AI and not a real person. No one likes to feel that they’ve been tricked, and a well-implemented brand AI will be convincing enough to make customers wonder. Ensure that AI experiences are clearly labeled as such so that customers know who or what they’re talking to.

 

As language-driven customer experiences supported by AI become a normal means by which customers interact with brands, we should expect that companies will come to compete not just with their products and services, but on the basis of brand personality as well. Given the intimate nature of these new interactive customer relationships, in which brands are personified, customers will choose their preferred brands based in part on who they enjoy talking to, making AI an essential competitive differentiator. This is a future that brands should begin preparing for today.