Welcome to Helen + Gertrude’s version of whatever romance reality TV series you’re currently bingeing! Same as the participants on your show, we’re exploring our options. Unlike your show, we’re not talking about human candidates, but rather generative artificial intelligence (AI).
We’ll start by saying this: In its current form—and in our opinion—AI cannot replace human creativity (thankfully!) or win over the hearts of audiences, but it can help unlock our creative potential. As an invaluable partner, AI has the power to support and augment the capabilities of our creative teams, enabling us to work smarter, faster, and more effectively on the services we provide to our clients.
That’s why we started a company-wide task force in the spring. There are zillions of AI fish in the sea, and we want to know all the possibilities, evaluate them, and use the best of the best to create the best work. (Versus work that’s generic, unbranded, sterile, or sloppy, and requires even more of our time to adjust and fine-tune.) So without further ado, here are the tools we’re courting, the ones we’ve committed to, and the ones we’re cutting loose (for now).
Getty Images has hopped into our dating pool, and we’re here for the demo. It’s super new to the scene and claims it’s "Commercially safe—no intellectual property or name and likeness concerns, no training data concerns." Apparently, the generated images are licensed and backed by Getty’s uncapped indemnification. And they compensate content creators for the use of their work in the AI model. Getty has a reputation for having a high-quality library so we’re very intrigued by this development.
Instead of focusing on the end product, tools like Figma are all about development. Emerging plug-ins from the platform can speed up certain aspects of the job or automate the more time-consuming, non-design parts of our process. Figma has several that are still early in development but may prove fruitful.
One called Automator, well, automates Figma tasks in one click. Another, Magician, uses generative AI to produce icons, images, and more. At the moment, these tools show great promise, but we’re waiting for a few more updates before we text them back, so to speak.
Adobe's generative AI tools, known as Adobe Firefly, do everything from generative fill and canvas extensions to providing new color palettes for finished artwork and creating images from prompts.
The company is quickly reacting to ethical concerns with AI and thus has become our go-to as we expand our expertise. Their Content Authenticity Initiative is dedicated to fighting misinformation in digital content, and they have some of the strictest boundaries for the data used to train their arsenal.
Practicing these prompts has helped us unearth new avenues of creative thought, execution, and fast image generation as we test out new visual strategies for clients. For example, for a skincare brand, we prompted, “How can we make education about what’s in your pores more exciting?” then worked with Firefly to test out abstract 3D renders of what dirt and oil look like.
Firefly has been in Beta mode playing hard to get. But it’s finally past that stage! We are super psyched to explore its possibilities for commercial use.
We love the one-to-one conversations you can have with these two platforms and strongly feel they can do everything many other platforms can do. They’ve enhanced our writing for all advertising tactics, as we prompt questions like, “Can you rewrite this sentence in active voice?” or “What are your suggestions for cutting this paragraph down?”
However, one of our copy team’s personal favorite uses is for social media post “lead-ins.” For example, the creaminess of a cheese product. AI helps us explore countless ways into this topic as we continue to brainstorm and bounce ideas off Claude and ChatGPT.
These two have also helped us summarize long documents of public-facing information (like industry reports) and pull out key insights with the caveat that the content we use is fact-checked within the response. We love the shortcuts AI can bring us, but its reliability on data sets is still a work in progress.
Especially on the brand strategy side of the house, we hold ourselves accountable for ethical inputs and monitoring factual, unbiased outputs in our research and positioning. We are in charge of how we shape these tools and what they learn from us—and we don’t take that lightly. So we’re head over heels for Anthropic’s Code of Ethics (Claude’s Constitution) and how they’re striving to make a more ethical AI product.
While everything we do still begins with our own research, finding what we call an “Uncommon Denominator” or brand differentiator in our strategies takes A LOT of creative brainstorming. Claude 2 and Chat GPT help us to see things differently and expedite forming connections with how people might perceive ideas, products, and language.
For example, if we’re learning about why people aren’t spontaneous to help inform a brand’s positioning, we can ask characters to talk about it. We use prompts like, “In Jennifer Lawrence’s tone, have a conversation with Issa Rae about how spontaneity is symbolic of life.” The response unlocks fun ways to think about bigger ideas around the positioning we’re working towards.
AI is constantly changing and updating. Most recently, ChatGPT has integrated DALL-E 3 into its interface, but we’re a bit reluctant to celebrate and continue to have a critical lens when deciding when and how to incorporate it. Image generators can fall prey to creative tropes, deeply-rooted bias, and the “uncanny valley” (think seven fingers, multiple arms, you name it.) We were going to wait on this one, but it looks like we’ll actually be going steady.
Our team has used this platform for years now, and it just keeps getting better and better with new features like brand tones, knowledge share, and style rules to make for even higher-quality, cohesive work. Again, we continue to stand by the statement that AI is a tool, not the creator, or in this situation, the writer. We still require the humans, especially, to review each other’s work.
On the development side of things, there’s so much to learn from our different styles of writing, different tricks, different flairs. Copyediting is inspiring and brings teams closer together—learning vital work skills like how to best communicate feedback and land in a place where both parties are happy with the outcome. And when someone is out of the office, already knowing the account ensures there’s minimal to no interruption in the flow of our client work.
AI has been used in hardware and software technologies for photography, videography, and design for years. For example, the “remove background” feature (isolating a subject from its background) provides surprisingly decent results and already plays a vital role in making our processes more efficient.
The copyright of training data and generated creative is an enormous consideration. The US Copyright Office announced this June that they’re now requiring artists to declare any AI in their work as “unclaimable material.” Combine that with certain services (like Midjourney) granting themselves unlimited license for all images generated, and it’s easy to see the importance of mindfulness when integrating AI into your process for brands and creatives alike.
AI has definitely been a game changer for creative marketers in 2023. If we were to summarize whether it’s been a positive or negative force, we can settle on the fact that it’s that romance reality show character who you hate to love. AI is our newest frenemy for 2024.
While AI is an ally that can liberate us from limited resources (namely time) and allow us to focus our energy on fresh, human-centered ideas and custom content, it cannot replace human creativity and originality. But when these forces are combined, humans and AI capitalize on each other's strengths: human ingenuity with machine efficiency, technology with understanding, and autonomy with creativity.
At Helen + Gertrude, our mantra is to be purposefully human. Our calling is to not simply adopt AI, but to shape it; to direct its awesome potential toward humanistic outputs that honor both innovation and conscience. We must be the compass for the responsible use of the technology, not be led astray by it. Our charge is to create with compassion and help build a world that champions ethics, inclusion, and human care.