In the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), one might question its inherent purpose. While some advocate that AI possesses intrinsic meaning, it's undeniable that, for now, generative AI primarily serves humans. This raises a pertinent question for brand agencies: What role does AI play in branding?
Today, branding is intertwined with people and their purpose. The Millennial generation, the largest in history, underscores this trend by prioritizing purpose-driven consumer experiences over traditional marketing concepts like price and position.
Richard Steel, author of "Elevated Economics," famously stated, “Purpose is the new ‘P’ surpassing Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion.”
“Purpose is the new ‘P’ surpassing Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion.”
— Richard Steel
This shift towards purpose shapes a brand's vision, revenue strategy, product design, social media content, and more. As digital natives, Millennials champion the "purpose" narrative across cultural dialogues. The rise of social media has ushered in unprecedented transparency, with brands becoming directly accountable to their customers.
Remember Kmart in 2013? Their decision to open stores for 41 consecutive hours during Black Friday backfired, sacrificing employee well-being for potential profit. Their defense only revealed their primary purpose: profit over people. It was a branding misstep from which they never fully recovered.
Historically, branding was simplistic, aimed at distinguishing products. The narrative changed from Coca-Cola being a tonic with medicinal attributes to focusing on its unique selling propositions. Brands previously delivered messages urging consumption, controlling both the narrative and its delivery.
However, today's landscape is radically different. We're in an era celebrating human aspirations and emotions. Consumers now gravitate towards products and brands resonating with their values, epitomized by companies like IDEO, which integrates purpose into infrastructure design.
Today, the 'why' now trumps the 'how.' As Simon Sinek said, “If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.” In 2023, the paramount task for CEOs is understanding and embodying their brand's core purpose. Despite AI's growing importance, remember that businesses cater to and employ humans who yearn for genuine causes.
Evaluate your brand by asking these questions: