A Case for Brand in the AI Era

A Case for Brand in the AI Era

When all things are equal, the most memorable brand wins.

I wrote that sentence down more than a decade ago and it’s more or less the concept on which I built my business. For the most part, the theory still holds up. 

But when I look at that statement through today’s lens, I realize that more specificity is needed. 

When I say “things,” what I mean is talent and products and technologies and cultures and customer experiences. 

When I say “memorable,” what I mean is considered, architected, structured. 

When I say “win,” I mean survive—and, if you’re lucky, evolve and thrive. 

Putting it all together, then, what I mean is this:

When all talent and products and technologies and cultures and customer experiences are equal, the most considered, architected, structured brand survives, evolves, and thrives.

The brand that knows itself on a fundamental level and continues to meticulously groom its identity and invest in the brand characteristics that animate its DNA, the aspects that make it truly different, is the one that will find itself in an enviable position among its competitors.

It’s the brand that will ultimately be left standing when the market does what it always does: shift, squeeze, extract.

I’m thinking about this more than ever right now because what we’re seeing is the early stages of artificial intelligence essentially democratizing business and leveling the playing field for small and large organizations alike. 

These new technologies (LLMs, robotics and automation, advanced engineering, 3D printing, etc.) are so powerful that deploying them can give nearly every business the same advantage. Marketing, sales, administration—entire internal departments can now be stood up with minimal effort and minimal staff. 

It’s an exciting time, to be sure, like when the internet made the geography you worked in nearly irrelevant, but it’s also a reminder that a company’s brand, that specific music you play for your audience, is more important now than ever before.        

Consider this. 

If the purpose of a business is to create value for customers and turn a profit, and the purpose of each AI tool a business deploys is to help accomplish exactly that, then what happens when every business becomes the same level of great? What happens when businesses are no longer constrained by size or geography or talent—or even technology?

It creates a completely new normal. 

The high-water mark is now sea level.

All things become equal. 

Except that the new normal is essentially just like the old normal. We’ve simply raised the bar. And the need for differentiation still exists. It remains critically important no matter how high the standard is set.

When all businesses have the opportunity to do everything at the highest level, when everyone is truly great, when every business is comparable, then the most considered brand, the brand that’s invested in itself the most, the brand that understands who it is on a cellular level—that’s the brand that will win: market share, affinity, share of voice.

For businesses that understand this, an incredible opportunity awaits. 

Because when all things are equal, the most memorable brand wins.

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