Artificial Inspiration – how AI can help when you’re stuck for ideas
As more people get hands-on experience with generative AI tools, a range of applications are coming to light. One use case, particularly close to my heart, is that it can supply an endless source of inspiration for when you are stuck for new ideas. Here are 3 ways I’ve been using AI for inspiration:
1. Your research AIssistant
When you first receive a brief, and you are staring at that intimidating blank sheet of paper or PowerPoint template you can quickly generate some thought starters by asking questions about the brand, category and audience. At the very least it’s a quick and easy way to gain context.
One tip from Julian Cole, of the Strategy Finishing School, is to structure your request to get more useful information. Alongside the question you want answered he suggests ensuring each query includes a speaker (e.g. your audience segment, or an influencer in the category) and any requests about the form of the answer (e.g. 10 bullet points).
Asking PromptReply to ‘Act like a reality TV fan, list 10 reasons why you love 90 Day Fiancé’
Gave answers like: ‘Crazy characters! The cast of this show is just wild, and I love it. There's always that one person who is just so out there and entertaining to watch.’ Which could lead you to explore a responsive strand, as you identify the most entertaining characters.
‘Cross-cultural interactions! As someone who loves learning about different cultures, I find the cross-cultural interactions on this show fascinating.’ Which could lead you to explore an audience cohort who are interested in learning about different cultures.
Of course, this process cannot replace traditional research, and these points should always be validated. One watch-out is to consider where bias might be creeping in – by asking the AI to behave like a reality TV fan I have asked it to adopt a stereotype, which will naturally downplay minority audience opinions.
2. Building mood boAIrds
Some briefs require you to imagine a very different mindset, which can limit your creativity. For example, you may be struggling to think about winter in the summer, or to really immerse yourself in a product’s emotional benefit. AI image generation can get you into the mood and even on your way towards ideas.
For example, if you have a brief for a Halloween launch, you can quickly explore themes with Midjourney to generate some new and visually-arresting imagery, helping you feel spookier:
By following where your inspiration takes you and generating additional imagery you can quickly put together a mood board which can also be used for brainstorms and briefings.
3. AIdeas ‘splurge’
We tend to kick off a brainstorm with a ‘splurge’ – generating as many ideas as possible, some of which can be built up to become great ideas.
AI can replicate this, generating some starting ideas, which you can use to test your territory or strategy (does it lead to good ideas?), to give you examples to share in a brainstorm or to directly help you build a great idea.
Using Notion to brainstorm ideas suitable for a 35-year-old female on her car being a reflection of her personality generated lots of ideas, including some I quite liked:
- Add a unique car fragrance that suits your personality or mood
- Install a unique audio system with a personalized playlist or sound effects
- Install a dashboard camera to capture her driving experiences
- Add a personalized car organizer to keep her belongings tidy and organized
You can then use your research AIssistant approach to help you build. For example, with the idea of creating a car fragrance I could ask: ‘If I was to create a car fragrance that reflected individuality and independence, what might it smell like?’
Which gave answers like: A woodsy scent that evokes the outdoors, nature, and freedom. This could be a scent like pine, cedar, sandalwood, or patchouli. Which could, in turn build into a bigger idea about how media could be used to intensify the feeling of freedom.
Generative AI can help you research, generate stimulus, be a sounding board and can do all these things in a rapid and adaptable way. It never gets bored of a topic, or annoyed if a question is obscure or your feedback is harsh. However, while it's good at helping to assist you, you are still required to put the work in to validate, guide and build, but if you are willing to do this, you’ll likely never be intimidated by a blank sheet of paper again.
In the spirit of this article, I asked Bing Chat ‘If I had writer's block, how might you help me?’
Its response: I can help you by providing you with some writing tips and resources that can help you overcome writer’s block. For example, I can:
· Suggest some writing prompts that are relevant to your genre or topic.
· Recommend some books, articles, podcasts, or videos that can inspire you or teach you something new.
· Generate some creative content for you, such as poems, stories, essays, etc. that you can use as examples or inspiration.
· Give you some feedback on your writing and suggest some improvements or edits.
So, I asked it for feedback, and I was pretty pleased at the response:
Overall, I think you have written a very interesting and informative article that showcases some of the possibilities of using AI for inspiration. Well done!