In today’s episode, we’re talking about how the age of AI comes with the consequence of losing humanistic tendencies, heritage as a luxury brand, and evokes the same feeling most feel when faced with the uncanny valley effect.
WARNING: Please consider listening to the episode regarding the uncanny valley instead of Googling it if you’re not sure what it is as the images are explicit and can create disturbance. Should you decide to Google uncanny valley, please consider using Google Schloar for your material review.
We’ll be covering the key points of the rise of AI, what it means for business (especially marketing), how the uncanny valley effect comes to play, and why your brand personality as a luxury brand can be harmed by AI. If you’re in the midst of building your own luxury brand or refining and redefining your luxury brand, consider how to leverage the age of AI while ensuring that you do not slip into the uncanny valley effect and phenomenon (something already being incredibly felt in business, but especially in the online business world as it’s still an uncharted frontier to leverage AI as often as we are doing so).
The Age of AI
Ah, the age of artificial intelligence. What a conversation to be having in 2023.
Let’s talk about what the age of AI is in case you’re not sure or if you haven’t created the time to delve into it the way most marketers have had to (in order to both leverage it and understand it to communicate with their clientele about it).
The age of Artificial Intelligence, often abbreviated as AI, is essentially a new frontier, period, and era in the world of technology.
It marks the inception of computer systems and algorithms designed to mimic human intelligence and decision-making processes. AI is all about teaching machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, solving complex problems, and making predictions and forecasting on behalf of the person or systems requesting said information.
This technology has already been around – you’ve had an impact in various aspects of your life such as experiencing improving customer service through chatbots (online and via phone) to evolving and revolutionizing industries like healthcare, finance, and transportation. It’s the driving force behind autonomous vehicles, personalized recommendations on streaming platforms, and the automation of routine tasks in businesses. There’s absolute goodness to AI and there’s also a darker side that we’re going to delve into later in the episode that could create a chasm in your customer’s experience and journey to working with your luxury brand.
AI’s potential is deemed and spoken about as boundless, and as it continues to evolve, it is as though it is vowing to reshape how we work, interact, and live in the coming years. Whether it’s in the form of the voices we all know and love like Siri and Alexa, image recognition systems (who plays around with the young and old filter on TikTok often…), or data analysis tools for businesses and entrepreneurs to continue to expand their brand portfolios and creative collections, AI is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily experiences, offering both challenges and opportunities for society to explore.
Which is why it’s both the age of AI and the new technological frontier that engages our explorative muscles… and our lizard brain.
The key to any technological tool is the good judgment to pair alongside it. It’s not only a key tool, but a competitive advantage as we navigate the uncharted territory of the age of AI.
What This Means for Business, Specifically Marketing
AI has ushered in a renegade and untried era for marketing, fundamentally transforming how businesses engage with their customers and create effective strategies. And many are skeptical. Myself included.
AI would beg us to understand that it’s crucial to understand that AI in marketing represents a powerful tool that enhances personalization, efficiency, and effectiveness. And it does and can, but only in ethical and aware hands.
First and foremost, AI empowers luxury brands to deliver highly personalized experiences.
Through data analysis and machine learning, AI systems can understand customer preferences, behavior, and purchasing history on a granular level and we do want this. These are the time-consuming tasks that involve human error and more loss on our profit and loss sheets.
AI enables brands to craft tailored marketing messages, product recommendations, and offers that resonate with individual tastes, ensuring a more meaningful and relevant interaction to increase your bottom line, but we’re seeing the way that the age of AI has been used in content marketing, the online business space, and the commercialization of products in a way that can be detrimental for the consumer, the heritage of a luxury brand, and the coherence a brand’s personality.
How Uncanny Valley Comes to Play
If you’re not sure what the uncanny valley is, I beg you to not look it up via Google and to consider listening to the rest of this episode beforing leveraging Google Scholar to review materials related to the uncanny valley as it is disturbing to the human psyche and regularly studied due to said disturbance.
Before we dig into what it is, I want to give you the why behind the what.
What I’ve heard again and again from clientele, peers and colleagues, and the internet at large (especially the lucid insight into brand’s thoughts when Threads came into play) is the joke of the Age of AI and how folks are flippantly saying “looks like this brand doesn’t have any personality and we’re up to chat GPTing again.”
And I understand it, unfortunately, and have had my own reservations about AI as a tool for both the technological, legal, and lack of integrity reasons. Many folks are copying and pasting content straight from ChatGPT without considering the legal implications of what could happen to their brands in the future, many folks are using ChatGPT to create social content while not updating terms and agreements in their contracts and terms and agreements on their website to notate that they’re using a powerful tool to sculpt their brand’s creative works… and the list goes on.
Many of our clients have a spiritual side to them and we’re in the Age of Aquarius as much as we’re in the Age of AI and we all have some reservations, but that’s a conversation for the speakeasy instead of the conversation pit.
Here’s why it matters, everything I just mentioned about uncanny valley: folks are already calling out that they can see the robotic effect and impression of artificial intelligence in branding, especially in luxury brands or emerging luxury brands.
And it’s creating a disease and disinterest in those brands. Some of my most favorite brands online have delved too far into AI to the point that reading their content now has that uncanny valley effect for me as a consumer – I can feel the effect and impression of artificial intelligence in their written word and I now only listen if they’re using their voice on video.
That’s severing a cord in the customer journey – for me – that’s creating a lack of revenue for them because I no longer trust ALL of their marketing… only some of it.
It’s in the name: the Age of AI = artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence isn’t true human intelligence and that energy is noticed alongside quirky dad jokes that don’t match the brand’s tone, voice, and overall personality.
So, let’s chat through the uncanny valley, what it is, and then we’ll delve into how your brand personality as a luxury brand can be harmed by AI due to the uncanny valley.
You can find the cited work information below – the title of this work is “The Uncanny Valley: Effect of Realism on the Impression of Artificial Human Faces.”
In the world of luxury, we often encounter a fascinating phenomenon known as the “uncanny valley” and it’s something that I’ve personally studied for a long while, but especially in the last year with the high rise of AI. This concept extends beyond just robotics and applies to various aspects of human-like objects, including dolls, masks, avatars, and even characters in the realm of computer graphics and cartoon movies. You may or may not already be familiar with this intriguing concept, but you may hold reservations about its application in marketing as many of our clients have.
At the heart of the uncanny valley lies the notion that when something closely mimics human characteristics but doesn’t achieve perfect realism, it can evoke an unsettling and unpleasant feeling. Recent research has delved into this phenomenon by examining people’s reactions to facial images that transition between artificial and real human appearances. Interestingly, the study found that the most discomforting impressions occurred when these faces were highly realistic, reinforcing the uncanny valley hypothesis. Again, I’d prefer you don’t go searching on Google to see said faces as they are very disturbing, but if you must understand this work more, do so.
However, here’s where it gets intriguing for luxury brands like ours. The uncanny valley effect was only observed when the morphed faces displayed abnormal features, particularly in their eyes. This suggests that achieving almost perfect realism in appearance is a crucial factor but not the sole determinant of encountering the uncanny valley. Rather, it emerges when there are abnormal or out-of-place features present. This is what we’re seeing with brand personalities, content online, and the leveraging of AI to the point of a loss of brand personality, tone, voice, vitality, and an overall sense of place and heritage in legacy brands.
You can tell who ChatGPTing too much.
And it’s a new consumer behavior point that we’ll have to be aware of as we build marketing campaigns, repurpose content within our brands, or leverage it to understand consumer behavior in the marketplace to commercialize new products and services.
As we navigate the world of AI and marketing, let us remember that striking the balance between realism and maintaining the elegance and uniqueness that define luxury is paramount. By carefully crafting your brand’s AI-driven experiences, you can ensure that your luxury brand never treads into the uncanny valley, only offering the excellence and sophistication your buyers deserve while essentially cutting your time as a brand – which deepens your bottom line and delights your clientele with the ease of knowing your luxury brand is still led by a human.
Why Your Brand Personality as a Luxury Brand Can Be Harmed By AI
Luxury buyers are discerning buyers of refined tastes that can easily distinguish true personality or differentiate the tang of artificial intelligence being leveraged too often to market to them.
What’s studied the most about the uncanny valley effect is the optimal level of humanizing robots to balance out the psychological response that is also in some ways just plain physiology – i.e. you shudder and shake a bit when you come face-to-face with the uncanny valley phenomenon. There’s a cited diagram below that shows reference points of how a figure can move from familiarity and human likeness to the uncanny valley with just a few wrong steps.
But what we’ve discussed the most in this episode is the connection between using AI in your copywriting, content creation, and repurposing processes to connect with your clientele and potential clientele.
It’s easy to see when you’ve leveraged AI to the point of dehumanizing the brand by actively disengaging from the points that make your luxury brand have a sense of place. If you’re interested in confirming that your luxury brand is hitting the 6 points of reference it must hit in order to be a luxury brand, see episode 5 of this podcast.
Here are a few ways to QA your copy and content if you’re leveraging AI to support your production:
- Review your brand guidelines and creative direction documentation from your brand designer to ensure that you’re producing content in the same light and effect of the brand essence you determined for your brand before the rise of AI. Your brand essence is how your brand is perceived in the marketplace and what separates you into your own unrivaled category in your industry. Feels evolved, thoughts thought when engaging with your brand, words said for word-of-mouth purposes and user generated content by ideal clients to reach more ideal clients.
- Review your brand guidelines and creative direction documentation from your brand designer to ensure that you’re producing content in the same light and effect of the brand’s voice and tone you determined for your brand before the rise of AI. This is how you express your brand and how it sounds to your clientele. Some examples include: knowledgeable and educated, luxury and high-end, neutral and poised, self-assured but honest and relatable enough to create a personalized connection.
- Ask for feedback from your consultants and advisors. This is something our clients love to do with us at The Cheetah Company to ensure that they’re within their brand positioning, especially when we’re refining and redefining their brand positioning. Seek a second pair of eyes, a mind that can step into the consumer’s shoes, and advisors that have long standing careers in business, marketing, sales, and leadership.
If you’re seeking support in the age of AI, The Cheetah Company is here for you with a decade+ in marketing, sales, and leadership positions in varying industries to ensure your success isn’t just inevitable but tangible right now as you accelerate towards your goals. Consulting is the best space to discuss your luxury brand’s positioning and the redefining of your brand while holding onto the sense of place and heritage of your brand.
I’d love to know what you think of this episode. Leave us a voicemail or send us a message on any of the below social platforms. Can’t wait to connect and chat with you. For now, thank you for tuning into Your Conversation Pit and reading this blog on The Cheetah Cafe!
Cited Works Mentioned in This Blog:
J. Seyama and R. S. Nagayama, “The Uncanny Valley: Effect of Realism on the Impression of Artificial Human Faces,” in Presence, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 337-351, 1 Aug. 2007, doi: 10.1162/pres.16.4.337. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6797708
The Uncanny Valley: A Focus on Misaligned Cues – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Fig. 1. The uncanny valley diagram.  Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-uncanny-valley-diagram-7_fig1_301951990
Kim, S.Y., Schmitt, B.H. & Thalmann, N.M. Eliza in the uncanny valley: anthropomorphizing consumer robots increases their perceived warmth but decreases liking. Mark Lett 30, 1–12 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-019-09485-9
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