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Design By AI: Part 1, Human Post

15 Mar 2023
Design by AI Blog Post

Is new AI software a threat to our industry, or a useful tool?

There’s been a lot in the news recently about AI software. In particular, conversations around the ChatGPT having successfully proven to write convincing pieces of text on demand and to specification.

You may also have encountered AI imagery, but if you’re unfamiliar, here’s how it works. You type in a description of the image you want to create, select the style you want the image to be generated in (photographic, illustrative, 3D etc) and the software creates an image for you, using information gathered from across the internet.

Speculators are concerned this kind of tech can put certain jobs at risk – the threat to some industries being more immediately more apparent than others. What caught my attention, was a demo video of a ‘designer’ using AI imagery to create a skincare brand, which made me wonder whether AI was a tool or a threat to creative studios. 

I decided to test the technology out, using a couple of different online AI generators.

BRANDING AI

First, I thought I’d see what suggestions AI had for our studio identity. It turns out WIX was the preferred service for this. The result was more or less as expected – lots of plain typographic options, a couple of pencil icons, different colour ways, but pretty generic and meaningless overall.

Design by AI Branding
Credit: WIX

TEXT AI

Moving onto ChatGPT, we asked it to ‘Write an introduction to our small, independent creative branding and packaging studio’:

“Welcome to our small, independent creative branding and packaging studio! We specialize in bringing your unique vision to life through innovative branding and packaging design. Our team of passionate creatives is dedicated to crafting bespoke solutions that stand out in a crowded market. With our keen eye for detail and commitment to excellence, we’ll work closely with you to create a brand identity that captures the essence of your business and resonates with your target audience. Whether you’re a small start-up or an established company looking for a refresh, we’re here to help you make a lasting impression with your customers.”

I expected this to be pretty on the money, as there are only so many ways you can describe what a creative design studio essentially is.

Just to double up on the AI, I ran this through ‘Grammarly’ (an AI tool we already incorporate and trusted into everyday work life). Grammarly thinks it’s great, more specifically ‘Inspirational, admiring and confident’, so there’s at least consistency amongst robots. However much this kind of text hits the spot with AI and algorithms for hitting all the right notes, it is of course very generic, and personally, I find it a little sickly sweet in tone.

AI RENDERS + PACKAGING

For a close comparison, I’ve looked at some categories we work a lot with:

‘Natural Skincare Product shot Brand for Women’

‘Irish Whiskey Product Shot’

‘Music Brand Logo’.

Here’s the results…..

It definitely understood the assignment, but like the automated logos, in our opinion, the design is very bland. It’s looked at all the images online and compiled the most popular assets from all. The result is a continental supermarket look-a-like type brand.

Natural Skincare AI
'Natural Skincare for Women' AI, Credit: hotpot.ai
Irish Whiskey AI
'Irish Whiskey Product Shot' AI, Credit: hotpot.ai
Music Logo AI
'Music Company Logo' AI, Credit: hotpot.ai

THE VERDICT

Overall, I’d say creative designers and design agencies are certainly not at threat of becoming redundant, not yet at least. Instead, this new AI can be seen as a helpful tool in a full process of multiple tools and layers. I’d go as far to argue that AI actually demonstrates the value in creative thinking. We pride ourselves on originality and pushing boundaries, using our creativity to produce designs that go beyond the obvious, thinking sideways, up, down and back to front. AI can still only imitate. For this reason, it’s still in its infancy as a designer and can’t yet create something entirely unique and meet the same level of consideration and sophistication that brands need to stand out and create lasting appeal. If individuals were to take it upon themselves to use this tech to bypass designers, they’d still have a lot of work to do.

DON't BELIEVE THE HYPE

An obvious, but key factor is that anything free or stock is available to EVERYONE to use. So if you’re early in the game and decide to create some novelty, AI generated illustration for your product design that’s one thing, but it’s likely to quickly become over-used and repetitive and feel cheaper because of this. As with AI generated text, if we become lazy and complacent, everything’s going to start sounding and looking the same, and struggle to stand out.

AI as a framework

Supposedly, Lawyers are using AI like ChatGPT to ‘outsource their thinking’ and draft arguments. I assume they still need to edit and add in more unique and specific content, but they’re able to use it as a framework – to speed up the process by writing all the usual talking points every lawyer would use anyway.

Something very common among creatives and designers is dyslexia. Designers with dyslexia find some of the everyday admin – emails, annotations and reading briefs etc. require much more time and attention than they necessarily have time for. The tech that used to be a full hardware kit of laptop, headset and spellchecker is now just a free chrome app, or pre-built into your smartphone so that anyone can quickly write a coherent, friendly email. So in this sense, AI has already proven to be a handy tool for creatives.

AI FOR GOOD

In my opinion, we should remain open to the use of AI as a tool, using it to push our thinking further rather than letting it rule. The dark side of algorithms is the endless click-bait, polarising and copy-cat pumped-out content that is simply playing to the technology, and not necessarily providing the quality or variety that I think would be preferable to most. As a company, you’re in the difficult position of either jumping on the bandwagon, or going unnoticed online, but in future, we hope that with a greater understanding we’ll see a better balance of creativity and algorithms. Here’s some of the ways we think AI could come into play:

Could AI tell us what the category cues in any particular market are, and give us a clearer idea of perceptions across different markets geographically and culturally?

Can we use AI to track these changes over time, and see how our perceptions change, to see if generally speaking, feminine products are getting less pink (for example)?

Can we use it as a creative tool to throw out some ideas to spark off that we can then build on?

 

And now, for the real test...

We’ve written this article entirely independently, and now we’ve put our argument across, let’s see what the AI comes up with given the same subject. Check out Part 2 of this blog post to see how the ChatGPT article compares to our human article on the topic: Design by AI: Part 2, AI post


Cover Image Credit: DeepMind Via. Unsplash 

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