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“In a world where 91% of audiences demand a regular influx of visual content from the brands vying for their attention, marketers are eager to leverage AI’s many visual applications to keep up,” according to Amy Balliett, Senior Fellow of Visual Strategy at Material. “It’s already being used to generate text-based content in droves, but using AI to create amazing visual experiences — ones that truly feel authentic and original to audiences — requires a far heavier lift.”
94% of a brand’s first impressions are based on design.
Balliet, Founder and CEO of Killer Visual Strategies, is a legend in the realm of content design. Within just a few years of launch, her business is an industry leader in visual communication, driving visual strategy and creative content campaigns for global brands like Microsoft, Adobe, Nikon, Starbucks, and more. Since Killer’s acquisition, Balliet’s new company, Material, has been named the Number One Global Strategic Consulting Firm by GRIT, combining the talent of 12 leading agencies and over 1,200 global employees across the practices of research, strategy, design, and brand building.
Interested in what she has to say? Us, too. Read on for a recap of her fascinating session at CMI’s Content Marketing World, complete with actionable advice that you can apply, right away.
Master the Art of the Text-to-Image Prompt
“Today, AI is widely available, easy to use, and evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s already tackling dozens of production tasks — especially when it comes to content creation,” Balliet says. “Whether using Looka for logo design, AdCreative to develop banners and social ads, or Text to Image to create eye-catching illustrations, AI has revolutionized the world of design. It can be used to develop mood boards for future projects, storyboard animated or live-action video, and create entire designs if need be.”
But, just as with ChatGPT, quality results lay in the art of the prompt. Now what does that mean for you and your team?
Actionable Advice: Get As Specific as Possible With Content Design Prompts
Start with the basics by specifying your desired subject, description, and style.
Subject: State the primary focus of your image, which might be a person, object, animal, location, or other specification.
Description: Describe further details about what your subject is doing, like what’s happening around your subject, where your subject is, the time of day or location your subject is in, and whether your subject is holding or wearing anything specific. The more detailed you get, the more accurate your final output will be.
Style: Describe your preferred visual aesthetic including different illustration styles, photorealism, lighting expectations, color usage, and the overall mood (cheerful, dramatic, minimalistic, or vintage, perhaps) that you’d like your design to embody.
Other factors to consider are composition, size, and dimensions that you’re looking for, all of which should be included in your prompt — along with valuable info about your target audience. Rather than requesting an image of “a cat”, be more descriptive and request “a fluffy, orange tabby cat lounging in a sunlit room,”. And you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by the potential range of results.
🦾 Related Reading: Embracing AI — 5 Reasons Marketers Shouldn’t Fear Artificial Intelligence
Create Moodboards and Rethink Creative Concepting
Moodboards are visual representations of a concept or idea, often used to convey the tone and visual style of a project before the actual creative content is produced. Beyond producing ready-to-use visuals, AI can help enhance the moodboarding and ideation process while opening up new possibilities for creative concept development for more efficient, data-driven, and audience-focused design decisions.
From style analysis and content curation to predictive design and data-driven insights, AI can also help designers and marketers explore innovative ideas and stay up-to-date with emerging trends and audience preferences. But while AI is an amazing tool in assisting the creative process, a real person’s unique creativity and the human touch remain essential in crafting compelling visual content. So how can you make the most of both?
Actionable Advice: Use Templates To Make Processes Quicker and Easier for Your Team
“Consider using [AI] to automate the creation of various hero images for your website, allowing you to perform multivariate tests that won’t break the bank,” Balliet suggests. “If you create a slide deck for every customer you’re hoping to close, why not use AI to make it even easier?”
“Through Canva docs, for example, you can develop a templatized script for your deck that can be further customized for each customer. Their AI slide generator will then create an editable deck for you, using your predefined brand language as a guide.” And, bonus points: Templates save time, reduce costs, and are easy to use — regardless of your or your team’s design skills.
📚 Related Reading: How Generative AI Is Forcing Changes in B2B Content
Harness the Power of Fully Generative AI
“With AI hitting the market in full force, audiences everywhere are teetering between fits of excitement and extreme apprehension,” Balliet says. “But while AI can generate beautiful images, the backlash among designers and artists is… leading to a fast rejection of the visual aesthetic commonly produced by AI text-to-image generators.”
Custom designs are 7x more likely to convert than those using stock images.
For the time being, fully generative AI in content design represents a significant advancement in creative automation and opens up exciting possibilities for never-before-seen graphics, designs, and even video production that can generate human-like content from scratch. But brands need to act fast to keep up with the tech’s constantly changing capabilities and, even more importantly, user expectations.
Actionable Advice: The Time Is Now To Experiment Because Tomorrow Might Be Too Late
“When it comes to AI, the opportunities for businesses abound,” says Balliet. “But more parameters and hefty price tags will be placed around these powerful solutions over time. Consumers will continue to demand quality custom content, [and] while they may not be able to differentiate an AI creation over a human creation today, this will eventually change.
“Just as stock images stick out like a sore thumb in a world of candid photography, consumers will soon notice the subtle cues that scream “a bot created this” and will judge brands accordingly. Take advantage of what’s possible today before AI content saturates the marketplace,” she advises, because “once it does, it will likely go the way of stock and lose its appeal entirely.”