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26 Mar 2024

Finally, an end to efficiency at the cost of humanity: How AI is Learning to Understand and Evoke Emotion in brand voice

Finally, an end to efficiency at the cost of humanity: How AI is Learning to Understand and Evoke Emotion in brand voice

The current state of Customer Experience isn’t just costing a lot in customer pay-offs, it’s expensively destroying brand equity as chatbots deliver generic, pre-programmed responses which conflict with the brand tone of voice, leaving customers like me feeling frustrated and unheard. 

Will Generative AI (Gen-AI) make things better?

Certainly, in the last year we’ve seen how Gen-AI is promising to revolutionise brands’ communication with their audience, creating personalised, high-quality content at scale.

But I believe the future of Gen AI is in going beyond efficiency; it will be about understanding and evoking emotions.

The Rise of Emotionally Intelligent Gen-AI

Recent breakthroughs in AI research suggest significant progress in developing Emotionally Intelligent (EI) models. These models go beyond mimicking human language to understand the emotional nuances of communication. This is achieved through advances in three areas

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI can now analyse text and audio with greater depth, identifying emotional cues like sentiment, tone, and cultural context.
  • Affective Computing: AI can now recognize and respond to human emotions through facial expressions, voice analysis, and physiological data.
  • Machine Learning: By training AI models on vast amounts of emotional data (e.g., customer reviews, social media posts), the models learn to associate specific language patterns and behaviours with different emotional states.

These advances pave the way for Gen-AI to play a transformative role in brand-centric communication, turning a difficult moment into a moment of increased trust in the brand. The near future belongs to the CMO, CXO and CAIO who can work with brand voice experts to create personalized content with emotional resonance. Expect to see significant outperformance from brands using Gen-AI content tailored to specific audience segments and individuals, not just in terms of information but also in terms of emotional tone and style. This can lead to deeper connections and more engaging brand experiences.

And expect to see customer service interactions that delight, as AI chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI can understand customer emotions and respond in a way that is empathetic, supportive, and appropriate to the situation.

Don’t believe me? While writing this article, my teenage daughter had a minor accident in Norway. While on her own. My family think I’m cold and unemotional. So I learned what to say to be more supportive using Inflection AI’s ‘Pi’ chatbot, which coached me on what to say to be supportive.

Building the Future of Emotionally Intelligent Gen-AI

To achieve this vision, we need robust and ethical AI frameworks that prioritize data privacy, avoid bias, and maintain transparency. We need to encourage collaboration between AI experts, psychologists, and marketing professionals to bridge the gap between technology and human emotions.  But at the same time, brand owners must also move beyond generic brand voice descriptions and define their tone in a way that is both authentic and differentiating. In my own work with alphabet’s ‘moonshot factory’ in Silicon Valley, I’ve seen how even at the highest levels of advanced R & D, there’s still an appreciation of the importance of getting the brand voice right.

The Business Case is Clear

Emotionally intelligent Gen-AI offers a compelling business case. Increased customer satisfaction leads to loyalty and advocacy. Emotionally resonant content drives engagement and conversions.  Finally, Gen-AI can reduce operational costs by enabling more efficient and personalized customer service interactions.

So, the future of customer experience is not about more inhuman, cold efficiency. It’s about meeting growing demand from consumers who want and expect to engage with brands they like. And meeting that demand by building trust and connections through emotional intelligence. 

Generative AI, empowered with the ability to understand and evoke human emotions, offers a powerful tool to transform brand communication and create customer experiences that resonate on a deeper level.


Chris West is the founder of Verbal Identity, the world’s leading brand tone of voice agency. He’s the author of the #1 best-selling book on brand tone of voice, STRONG LANGUAGE, which now has more than fifty 5* reviews on Amazon.

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