Companies like Apple, Snapchat and Facebook are giving people the opportunity to create avatars of themselves. These avatars act as a ‘body’ in the virtual world and if films like Minority Report, Tron, Blade Runner and Ready Player One are anything to go by, we will soon be living in a world where digital personas, rather than the member of staff at your local store, will become the faces of business.
We have started to see the emergence of this in the use of chatbots. These AI-powered computer programs mimic a human conversation, using machine learning-based computer algorithms and programmed responses to assist customers looking for information online.
This is known as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and involves feeding as much human created copy into the program which creates algorithms based on commonly used phrases and sentence structure.
Machine learning enthusiasts have already started experimenting with NLP and creating forums where chatbots can have conversations with other chatbots as a way to develop emotion recognition and general comprehension. This will eventually evolve into programs that have the ability to reply naturally and ‘in character’. If this trend continues, businesses will be faced with a whole new branding question: What sort of character and appearance will your company’s avatar have?
This may be years down the road, but keeping as much market research and customer feedback as possible for the foreseeable future will ensure businesses have a starting point, as well as thinking about what tone of voice, gender, etc would fit the company’s culture.
Influencers have certainly had an impact on marketing since the surge in popularity of social media, and businesses are starting to use computer generated models to present a brand image that is completely customisable and can convey a very specific tone. These figments of imagination are advertising clothes in the real world, as seen in Balmain’s recent campaign, and it is evident that the models have been designed to create specific reactions in audiences.
Avatars may create different results, but the thought process will be the same: How do we make our avatar ‘connect’ with our target audience?
It won’t be long before businesses outside of the fashion industry find that they have to start creating personas that don’t just regurgitate FAQ’s, but are designed with personality and a particular image that best attracts consumers and tirelessly represents the business in the ever-increasingly digital world.