“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a saying first attributed to Arthur Brisbane, an editor and public relations professional, at a 1911 banquet devoted to journalism and advertising. Here we are more than 100 years later, and it’s just as significant today.
The digital age and the proliferation of visual content platforms such as websites, social media platforms, and even the metaverse have increased the need for marketers to become visual content publishers. A campaign lives and dies on the power of creativity, and brands pay top dollar for brilliant artists and experienced designers in order to make an impact on their audience and stand out from their competitors.
With visual generative AI tools, anyone can create stunning artwork and stunning visual content – no graphic design or art skills required. We are once again seeing a democratization of digital content creation, mirroring how websites have evolved from coding and design skills to the development of tools like WordPress and Wix that allowed anyone to create a website. Agencies are working to redefine their value, and savvy marketers are leveraging these new tools to help them save time and money.
Dig Deeper: What could disrupt the future of generative AI?
Generally speaking, you can divide visual generation tools into two categories:
- Artwork and image/video generators.
- Image/video design and editing tools.
As we speak, the builders of these tools are working to merge these two functions, and I have found that the benefit for marketing teams comes from a combination of the two capabilities. Let’s unpack each one, explaining the differences and the best tools in each category.
Text to image and text to video generators
Simply put, these platforms allow users to enter a text prompt from which the language learning model (LLM) generates an image or video. The result is based on the data and material on which the LLM was trained. Therefore, each platform has a different set of generated results. Popular imaging tools include Midjourney, OpenAI’s DALL-E, and Adobe Firefly.
As you can see below, the same text prompt entered into these different tools will produce very different results. Each tool has different strengths and weaknesses and can offer marketing teams a wide range of use cases. Here are some of the ways I use these tools:
- Creating featured images for blog posts and social media posts.
- Creation of logos, mood boards, style guides and visuals to help communicate brand identity.
- Ideation and creation of visual assets to explain creative concepts.
- Develop quick compositions for input and approval before developing the final result.
Historically, these illustration generators are not very good at adding specific text overlays, and another tool would be needed to add text. However, as I write this, DALL-E 3 is currently rolling out. This is a game changer when it comes to text.
As much as I love Midjourney, I am once again forced to predict that Microsoft and OpenAI will most likely govern visual content generation the same way they currently govern textual content generation with ChatGPT. For more information on textual content and genAI, see my previous article in this series, Marketing’s Guide to AI: Working with Text Generators.
But what about video, you may ask? So far, the video generation tools haven’t blown me away. Tools like Runway.ml can produce short videos from a text prompt and I’m sure these capabilities will improve over the coming months. In my opinion, the AI video editing and design tools we will discuss next are much more powerful and useful for marketers.
Generative AI design and editing tools
The second broad category of genAI tools for visual content leverages AI to help design and edit output such as compiled images, animated images, presentations, and videos.
Just to make my job even harder in explaining this stuff, several of these tools include some sort of image or illustration generation functionality. We can expect big players like Adobe, Microsoft, and Google to continue integrating these tools and features. Recently, OpenAI announced that it has updated ChatGPT to include the use of voice messages and the ability to “see” images. Microsoft also began integrating DALL-E 3 and its AI design tool, Microsoft Designer, into the Bing search engine.
Without a doubt, the future will allow us to generate beautiful illustrations and edit them according to the needs of our campaigns within a single interface. However, today my workflow requires me to use a handful of platforms to create the final content for my campaign. I still save hours and hours, as well as a lot of money that would have been spent paying designers and editors to do this work for me.
I’ll usually start with an image generation tool like Midjourney or DALL-E, then upload the generated image to one of my favorite design and editing tools. The tools I use to edit and design my visual content include platforms that excel at specific asset types such as presentations, social media posts, animated gifs, and video shorts.
Understanding the end asset you are looking to create can help you select the best tool for the job. I use Microsoft Designer for static and animated images, as well as GlossAI and PlayPlay for video output. There are also tools, like Canva, that offer many different types of results, from images and infographics to presentations.
While the tool landscape is changing significantly by the day, I recommend starting by researching the best tools that use AI to generate the specific result you’re looking for. As you experiment, you will discover which set of tools are most useful for your specific task.
There are many marketing use cases for these types of design and editing tools, which can help marketers spark creativity and save time and money. Here are some of the most obvious ones:
- Creating video shorts, chapters, summaries and snacks from long-form videos.
- Adding subtitles, intros, outros, text, graphics and audio to video content.
- Instantly design beautiful presentations.
- Editing an existing image by adding or replacing elements, adding text overlay, stickers, etc.
- Create compelling video shorts using existing static images and video clips.
A word about copyright
Let me start by saying that I am not a lawyer, and this is in no way legal advice. However, it is important that I talk a little about the issues surrounding copyright infringement. It’s a complex topic, but simply put, companies that use some of these generated artworks risk being sued.
It will be years before the dust settles, and there are no clear laws regulating this sort of thing. In the meantime, it is therefore recommended to exercise caution. Both Microsoft And Adobe have announced that they will cover customer costs resulting from legal action, so these are likely among the best options for cautious brands fearing legal action.
It’s also important to remember that in the United States, nothing created by AI can be copied. If you put it out there, everyone can use it.
Tutorials on using AI
The best way to become a genAI visual content master is to roll up your sleeves and get started. As part of this article series, I’ve created a series of hands-on video tutorials that will walk you through how to actually to use this kind of things. You can join the #AIMarketingRevolution challenge on my Youtube channelwhere I show you how to quickly compare and contrast visual output from major platforms like Midjourney, DALL-E, and Adobe Firefly.
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily of MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.