Graphic: Rabbit Holes

Lighty AI & The Risks of Inconsistent Branding

AI Can't Be Your Marketing Department Just Yet

Everyone knows that good branding demands creativity; however, it also requires consistency and discipline. Some would rather hit up Fivver for a logo, SquareSpace for a template site, and the local Staples for business cards. The result is a built-over-time hodgepodge. All because consistency and discipline seem expensive.

But what does inconsistent (and bad) brand presentation cost you?

Brace Yourself. Here Comes the Analogy

I’ve spent some time here with a detailed (and potentially non-original) diatribe comparing your brand to a wine label. The crux is: while a fancy label doesn’t guarantee a good wine, a well-designed label says “this company cares about their product” and people are inclined to buy from companies that care about what they sell. In contrast, a bad label might ensure that your company/wine never gets discovered.

Want to see a real-life example in action?

Lighty AI, A Wine Labeled Before Its Time?

This brings me to Lighty AI, a company that wants to be my personal JARVIS—an AI-based personal assistant. I’m certainly not opposed to the idea of having an AI to track appointments, set schedules, find information, read back my messages, or draft replies to web-form submittals. However, Lighty AI is sending me mixed messages.

Lighty AI has interesting branding and what I think might be the right messaging,…on the website. In stark contrast, the LinkedIn campaign looks to have been written and illustrated by the AI instead of the team that created the website. That split makes me less inclined to trust them with my data.

As a wine label, this says “Fortified with NyQuil!”

Lighty AI’s LinkedIn Personality

The main image of the LinkedIn ad reminds me of the “How Many Errors Can You Spot” pictures in activity books I used to get as a kid to make long road trips less boring.

  • The man in the image seems very proud of his tie, which is outside a crewneck sweater, which —for reasons only known to AI—has buttoned cuffs. He is cheerfully shoving his right fist into his laptop screen. If he’s the assistant, I don’t want his help.
  • The woman in the image is either an amputee or has cleverly hidden her notes under the desk using a custom armhole.
  • The calendar behind the woman shows two side-by-side months with 7 weeks of five days each.
  • There are other random charts and grids around, but I keep locking eyes with the Stepfordesque woman. Her buddy is way too cheerfully oblivious to both the screen in front of him and the woman beside him. Her hypnotic gaze grabs me again. I feel threatened. My brain is screaming “GET OUT!!!”
  • Meanwhile, the stacked headline screams “GET {SpacebarSpacebarSpacebar} YOUR {SpacebarSpacebarSpacebar} OWN” {Linebreak-HalfSizeFont} “PERSONAL ASSISTANT”. I can’t tell if this is the man telling me to try out an assistant or that he‘s got his and I’m not allowed to look at h—AHH! She’s still staring at me!!
  • Then “TRY FREE!”. Dude, I’ve tried free. It doesn’t pay the bills.
  • Why is there a vector exploding star in the bottom corner? I. Don’t. Know.

To be fair, the LinkedIn ad did get me to click. I had to see if the rest of the brand was going to bring the same level of chaos. As a wine label, this LinkedIn ad says “Fortified with NyQuil!”

This label says the winemaker is proud of his product, but now I don't believe it

Lighty AI’s Website Personality

The website looks to be a totally different glass of grapes. It’s super clean. It holds back information but hints at it; providing enough intrigue that readers are drawn to the “join beta” button that my 6th-grade English teacher would redline, but I’ll allow it. It’s a Framer site, and probably not more than a few pages deep, but it looks clean. Either the template or the site is designed by someone who cares about clear, well-packaged, information. This label says the winemaker is proud of his product; but, because of that LinkedIn ad, I suddenly don’t believe it. It’s like picking up a bottle and finding that the screw top is loose… and there are stains around the neck.

The split between these presentations of a single brand makes me ask myself: Do I trust this assistant?

Do I Trust a Sloppily Marketed AI With My Life’s Data? (Spoiler: "No sir, I do not")

I don’t trust Lighty AI in the same way I do the little AI assistants I’ve created in Wavelength. Why? Lighty AI has a split personality. Even though the site is nice and clean, The LinkedIn ad has turned me sour on it. (Now I see it—not as a tastefully repurposed Framer template—but as a repurposed template covering up a company with no taste.) Lighty AI doesn’t make me feel that they will be competent as an assistant because they don't seem to care about how they represent themselves. This distrust meant that I went looking for a privacy/data policy on the site. There isn’t one.

Do I trust an AI to be my personal assistant? Maybe. Do I trust one with a split personality which may or may not be feeding all the data I provide to a company with no taste? I’ll respond with the immortal words of Sadie Ratliff having been invited for a Grape Soda: “Not with a man covered with pig poop, no sir I do not.” (Bette Midler Big Business 00:20:40)

TLDR: Bad Branding Gives Potential Customers a Reason to Doubt You

Every touchpoint is a part of your brand. So find someone who can help you and your company present yourself as the wine you want to be. Don’t lower trust by resorting to inauthentic lazy marketing from template sites, off-shore content farms, or AI copywriting. That’s a label of painter’s tape & Sharpie for the never-nominated-still-unawarded “Cabinet Sauvénone – 2024”

This label says "Let me tell you how I lost that kidney"

Why the split personality between the Lighty AI website and the LinkedIn ad? I’ll bet that they simply didn’t want to invest money to extend a brand personality into every touchpoint. I note that in the careers section of the website, there’s nothing for a marketing team. Perhaps they don’t think that brand dilution is a thing. It is though, and the startup phase might be the most important time to be hyper-focused on concentrated personality reinforcement. I think that the woman in the image is already hyper-focusing (ARGH! SHE’S GOT ME AGAIN!!!!)

Good Branding Builds Trust

Clear, consistent branding creates a personality that customers can identify, interact with, and respond to. Consistency fulfills expectations, building trust. But to get to trust, you have to start with a persuasive brand, consistently applied. Every time a potential customer sees that brand, they form an expectation about the wine. So make sure you’ve got the label right.

Of course, a well-designed consistent labeling effort will add cost to your operation, but it doesn’t have to be bank-breaking. You might not need a full-time marketing department. If you only have a few big projects a year, you might struggle to find the up-front money to pay for marketing to generate sales to pay for additional marketing to generate additional sales. (“Hello egg, have you seen my chicken around?”)

To solve this marketing quandary, I propose a simple solution:

Budget for Your Brand

Creating a brand requires good design, well-written copy, and smart choices for the communication channels. It also requires discipline and consistency: consistent look & feel, consistent messaging, and consistent interaction. So simply create a monthly budget line item called “Personality Maintenance” and contract a sentient person like me as your offsite marketing department. I have packages that start at $1500/mo that can help startups and small businesses create and maintain brands and foster relationships.

Interested in a long-term brand-building partnership? Hit me up today. The initial consultation won’t cost you anything. It might save you a ton.

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