With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and its rapid adoption, we have witnessed the dawn of an era that values a mindset focused on efficiency rather than creativity. This trend results in entertainment and branded content without any differentiating factor.
Algorithms control how people discover brands or products, but this governance of content and product design is problematic. Has technology become dominant as a tastemaker and gatekeeper?
The success of brands has long been based on their ability to differentiate themselves from competitors. In addition, offering products and services that stood out for their quality, convenience and originality was a top priority. However, when economic conditions are not ideal, companies seek to increase efficiency and value, resulting in a "culture of efficiency".
The partnership between efficiency and creativity is counterproductive, resulting in lower-quality work fuelled by data rather than human imagination.
"As CFOs need to manage costs, organizations across sectors usually start reducing budgets for creativity and innovation. (…) Yet these constraints can create the conditions for exceptional inventiveness, if allowed to flourish", highlights the study.
Efficient mindsets and reduced budgets have led many companies to adopt a more cautious strategy, which means settling for what has worked in the past. In this scenario, the incentive is clear: recycle old "wins" rather than take a chance on something new.
According to Accenture Life Trends, "boundary-pushing creativity is being pushed aside in favor of its less talent-led cousin: design by data. Businesses are building what the data says people want, and the data tends to point towards familiarity".
Other factors that restrict companies' originality are technological models, i.e. the tools used to turn ideas into reality, the platforms through which they are distributed and the algorithms that dictate how they are discovered. The rapid adoption of these models also comes with the feeling that everything follows a formula and that content is destined for algorithms rather than people.
The algorithm has been moulding culture. This is true not only in terms of content production but also in terms of format, where short-form content reigns supreme. These circumstances put creativity and originality in check.
What does the "end" of originality mean for consumers and companies?
In a rapidly evolving environment, consumers seek experiences, products and services that fulfil their desire for uniqueness.
"Whether in the form of cutting-edge products, immersive campaigns, or unexpected collaborations, novelty delivers sustained interest and emotional connection. Customers yearn for the thrill of newness, underscoring the imperative for brands to infuse their offerings with a well-calibrated blend of familiarity and innovation", emphasising the importance of harmony between familiarity and innovation.
The problem of mediocrity will become more complicated as more and more companies are expected to use generative Artificial Intelligence in their creative process. However, for companies, there is an opportunity to learn how to use AI in their favour. The study explains how:
"Used well, generative AI can come up with an idea that creatives can build out, make creatives’ own ideas reality, or both. We expect to see more creatives producing better work faster, with this technology and technologists as new co-creators. It can automate the boring tasks, help with development tasks and be a major contributor to innovation".
Key principles to follow
To ensure that companies are ready to fight mediocrity, Accenture points to the following fundamental principles:
- Budget: Creativity means action time for creatives, i.e. time to idealise, experiment, develop and test. Creativity is an investment that pays off in results. A brand is a set of promises that creative work can help fulfil, along with a strong voice in the market.
- Refrain from resorting to technological templates: The growing adoption of AI threatens to exacerbate the problem of design templates. To avoid recycled content, skilled creatives should be involved in utilising generative AI, as those without experience may be able to make something acceptable but not content that stands out.
- Know your brand: Deep brand knowledge allows you to take creative risks, try something new and focus on the right metrics. Before budgeting and deciding what risks to take, it's essential to be clear about the brand's identity.
Find out more about the "Accenture Life Trends 2024" here.