Don’t let AI dumb down your authentic brand voice

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Content Manager Penny Stretton sounds a warning about letting robots take over your copy 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances are here and they’re here to stay.  

We’re excited to see the ways in which our clients will evolve in this new era.  

Software that can help take a load off is awesome and it would be bonkers to shun it. Impossible even. 

But the blind march towards the use of AI is getting a bit, well, awkward for me. 

I’ve noticed that businesses big and small (and sadly, mostly smaller ones because of budget and time constraints) are suddenly awash with AI generated copy and I want to talk about the pros and, yes, mainly the cons of this.  

You might be thinking ‘well of course you’re going to say a robot shouldn’t write my content for me, I should pay humans to instead.’ 

I get that.  

But I also think you probably care enough about your business to hear me out.  

Hopefully you know that with two decades of storytelling experience under my belt, there are some solid foundations to my reservations about computer generated copy. 

I do see the positives of AI – it’s certainly not my out-and-out enemy. Mainly because I don’t think it’s a patch on writers with a real voice. But there are some things it’s good for – we’ll get to that. 

The new norm 

For now, let’s rewind to only a year or so ago, when almost everyone feared ChatGPT and its peers. ‘It’s too good to be true’, they all thought, ‘not touching it with a barge pole’, they said. 

But, as was always going to be the case, it wheedled its way in. It pushed on the weak spots.  

Then, one day, overworked teams, or overwhelmed individuals asked it that magic question: ‘ChatGPT can you do my work for me?  

And Pandora’s box was opened.  

Overnight a new normal crept in. If you haven’t started to notice it yet, you will now. It’s the same as when you get a new car, then suddenly realise the whole neighbourhood has the same one – there’s nothing special about yours anymore. 

You think your ChatGPT copy really pops. It’s shinier than you could have made it. But slowly, you’ll look around and notice everybody else’s is a bit like yours too. It’s full of long words and snappy sentences (and metaphors – oh those endless AI generated metaphors). 

‘This AI copy really makes me sound like I know my stuff’ you think, while convincing yourself you do. Oh, and it’s quick! You’re suddenly pumping out a blog post or LinkedIn article every day – what’s not to love? 

All fur coat and no knickers 

Yes, that ChatGPT copy might look pretty but, come on, does it really have any substance?  

Have you earned the expert status it’s portraying? Maybe you don’t care about that. But you should.  

How is it making you stand out? How is it setting you and your business aside from all the rest? 

Ultimately, it can’t tell your story, from the heart. And that’s what audiences and customers need to hear, to buy in.  

To connect with people, businesses need to behave like people.  

Sooner or later your shouty ChatGPT (and the like) posts will lose their shine. Unless you’re genuinely rewriting every sentence in your own style (and you’re not, are you?) your work is a copy and pasted trawl of the web – and in time, those who trusted you, will see through it. When they can’t hear ‘you’ in what your business has to offer, they’ll opt out.  

What if your customers call you out? 

If you’re going to let a robot write your content, you better make sure you know as much as it does. Why? 

Because when that potential client, who’s read your in depth thought leadership piece and decided, this is the company for us, starts delving into that knowledge, you’re going to be red faced if you can’t stand it up.  

And even if you can at first glance – I’ve got to tell you that spinning out words that you haven’t sweated over, is not a good strategy for winning and crucially keeping clients.  

And (yes another and, because I didn’t ask AI to find a better way of starting the sentence for me) if you’re selling a product rather than a service – you’ll get no repeat custom or recommendations if your offering doesn’t live up to your AI-hyped descriptions that sold it in the first place. 

Create a service or product from the heart – then let humans (be that you or a team you work with) put real emotion into finding the right words and phrases to sell it.  

This is all part of the journey and it’s how you get to understand who your audience is and how to connect with them. If you keep going back to ask a computer to generate something new, you’ll probably keep going around in circles. Even if something sticks, you’ll have less of an idea of how you got there and you won’t be developing your brand through experience.  

Humans still matter 

Big branding agencies and communications experts are leading businesses in a more human direction for a reason. It’s all about voice and connection. We can all think of those brands that do it well – they tap into something deep inside of us as humans, they say ‘we see you, we get your struggle’. It’s why there was such an explosion of ‘mum bloggers’ and brands a few years ago. 

It’s why lots of us take notice of a cheeky tagline or something sweary. There’s a big conversation about swearing in copy lately and I’m here for it. (The Satsuma team doesn’t mind a well-placed swear word). 

It was used to great effect for Monica Lewinsky’s voter campaign in Reformation and recently. The joint campaign between the fashion brand and the voter platform utilised the words ‘Monica F*cking Lewinsky.’ It hit hard and was all about her reclaiming power. And right now, AI is not clever enough to be able to generate that kind of impact. It can’t work out the nuanced ways audiences receive Monica Lewinsky and therefore can’t help to alter opinion about who she really is. Not yet anyway.  

Everything in its place 

I know that AI has its place – all of us at Satsuma do. 

And of course, there are plenty of ways that using platforms like ChatGPT to generate copy is legitimate and useful.  

It’s also a more sophisticated research tool than a general web search. It will dig much deeper on a subject if you need it to serve up knowledge, that’s for sure.  

But even the most clued-up experts on the subject can’t yet agree on how likely it is to wipe us all out (or at least our jobs) and opinions vary wildly. 

It will become as every day as the mobile phone and social media. But just like we’re still finding with those inventions – there’s a balance – and too much of a good thing leads to, well, a sort of mush. An addiction, an over-reliance that takes something away from the core of who we really are. 

Our voices, either as individuals or as groups and businesses are our calling card – the who and the why of what we’re sending out into the world. 

Just imagine, for a moment, what will happen when the very last voice joins the crowd and we all sound identical…. a swell of noise that is all coming from the same place… 

Let’s stick to what our human hearts and brains have to say. 

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