Despite all the initial reservations about AI-generated visuals—concerns about quality, originality, and versatility, among others—they have emerged as an ally to small and medium-sized businesses.
Thanks to AI, small businesses with slimmer pockets now have access to world-class visuals of the highest quality in scalable formats and responsive designs. From brand logos to product images and from marketing collateral to social media content (including video), AI-made visuals are saving the day for small brands and local businesses.
But how are they doing it? What do they bring to the table of small business success that has made them such a rage? We’re on a quest to find out.
Benefits of AI-generated Visuals for Small Brands
AI-generated visuals live at the intersection of imagination and innovation. And while imagination is good, innovation requires money. By slashing down the cost of creativity and speeding up its process, generative AI is not just changing the game; it’s rewriting the rule book!
Here are five benefits of AI-made visuals that are levelling the playing field for small businesses:
Traditional graphic design can be expensive. The average fee a midlevel logo designer asks ranges from $1,000 to $2,500. Even an entry-level designer can leave a dent of $500-$1,000 on a small brand budget.
In comparison, AI-powered logos are almost free. Available for as little as $50, these logos make high-quality design accessible to small businesses with limited budgets. Add to this the costs you save on product labels, packaging design, and marketing collateral, and you begin to realize just how beneficial this is for small brands and local startups.
Customization is another point that ties in with cost-savings but deals with what happens after the first draft of the design has been submitted. The traditional practice of most designers is to offer the first editing free of cost. Subsequent changes, however, come with a price tag.
A small business already struggling with a restricted budget cannot afford many changes and usually has to agree with a design they may not completely want.
AI-made visuals solve all of that. Not only do you get free editing for innumerable times, but you also get a huge range of editing options that give you full control of the design. You can change fonts, icons, colours, layouts, add more elements, and do whatever you want. The customizability of AI-made visuals makes almost every change possible.
AI speeds up the production time for graphics. Small businesses can generate a large quantity of well-made visuals in a very short time. With a few well-chosen search queries or text prompts, you can instruct an AI program to produce brand-specific visuals for really specific goals.
Unlike an illustrator or a graphic designer, who will take at least a few weeks to return with some results, the AI platform will do the work for you in under a minute. You’ll get multiple versions of the results, with variety and diversity that you can explore to fit your needs.
In the fast-paced environments of social media and digital marketing, this translates to frequent social media posting with greater variety and in cost-effective ways.
Modern branding and marketing take place on many stages. From websites to flyers and merchandise to various forms of marketing on social media, your visuals have to look good and retain their shape in every environment.
Scalable graphics help you achieve that. AI graphics are made with file formats, such as SVG, that protect the original shape and quality of the graphics no matter how much you enlarge or shrink them. And all of this can be done with limited resources, which multiplies the benefits for small businesses.
5. High Quality
Latest advancements in AI and machine learning technologies have made them so sophisticated that they have started to closely resemble human art and creativity. More and more AI designs are starting to look as if expert artists made them. There’s a level of detail and complexity never seen before.
So, in 2023, when you decide to use an AI platform for your marketing or branding visuals, the results are beautifully made website banners, social media post templates, unique logo designs, and enough versatility to last you a whole cycle of trends.
How to Use AI-generated Visuals
Small businesses can use AI-generated visuals across multiple channels of their branding, marketing, and advertising. Here’s a brief list to give you an overview.
The most popular application of design-related generative AI has been in the realm of logo and brand identity design. Hundreds of AI platforms worldwide are providing small businesses access to professional-grade logo designs that aid in brand consistency, recall, and loyalty.
Social Media Graphics
Small businesses can use tools like Canva, Freepik, and others, to create great-looking graphics and motion pictures for their Facebook walls, Instagram grids, and TikTok videos. Everything from banners, headers, and post images can be made using these platforms. Their templates are made in scalable format and can be customized and personalized to suit individual brand needs and requirements.
There are a ton of visuals that a small business’s website needs to survive and thrive. These include header images, hero images, background images, service illustrations, various icons and graphics, and many more.
With the help of AI design tools, you can create all these graphics and more in less time and resources.
Marketing materials include things like flyers, business cards, graphics and images for marketing campaigns, and advertisement and marketing videos for the brand. Hiring an illustrator or a graphic designer to create these assets can be an extremely costly exercise.
With AI design tools by your side, however, you can reduce these expenses significantly. You can also add variety and consistency to your designs and run your campaigns with more speed and fewer hiccups.
Challenges of AI-generated Visuals for Small Brands
We have talked extensively about all the great things AI-made visuals are doing for small brands. But are there any cons to using these tools? What are the common limitations you can come across when using an AI design tool as part of your branding team?
Lack of Control
AI graphics are generated using existing datasets of art and design created by human artists. While these AI-made designs could be unique, you don’t often have a lot of room to make extensive changes to them. Customization and personalization are possible, but heavy-weight changes can only be made if you are a designer yourself or know how to work with Illustrator.
Loss of Human Touch
AI-generated visuals can often look too perfect. In nature, things are always present with little flaws or imperfections that make them more endearing and beautiful. With AI graphics, you can have a hard time creating emotionally layered visual content.
Copyright protection of AI-generated visuals is the most fundamental issue that always comes up during such debates. Since copyright is only granted to original works of art, AI-made visuals cannot claim copyright for what they create because their work is not original.
Though it’s a complicated discussion, small brands can circumvent it by buying exclusive rights to the templates they intend to use in their branding and marketing.
How to Use AI-generated Visuals Effectively for Small Brands
The successful use of AI-generated visuals for small brands rests on the perfect balance of maximizing the benefits while mitigating the risks. Three techniques will help you.
Choose the Right Tool
If you are new to AI design, keep these three factors in mind when choosing an AI tool to work with:
- Features and functionalities: Evaluate the features the tool provides. It should include templates and customization options and a range of formats, styles, and sizes available. Paying attention to these areas ensures that you are getting a design that will be usable and brandable.
- Quality of output: Some AI design tools provide much sharper and more professional imagery than others. Look for modern designs, polished looks, and diverse imagery. Again, make sure that the designs are available in formats and sizes that you can actually use in your marketing.
- Scalability and integration: Consider whether the tool can grow as your business expands. Does it have advanced features that’ll accommodate you as your brand evolves? This is important because hopping from one tool to the next in the middle of brand expansion can complicate the consistency of the brand identity.
Provide Clear Instructions
Once you have chosen the right tool, make sure that your instructions are also clear and comprehensive. Some tools work with text prompts, while others will ask you to choose the kind of elements you are looking for. You’ll need to pick a few colours, fonts, and layouts for the AI tool to start generating or showing you relevant results.
The clearer you are about your design idea, the more focused you can be as you filter and shortlist the results.
Review the Results Carefully
You are going to get a lot of options when you start working with an AI designer. The options will be endless, even with careful instructions and prompts.
So, keeping the blueprint of your idea clear in your head will help you in this process.
Choose designs that are simple, can be brought closer to your brand objectives, and have a distinct value that gives your brand an edge over the competition. Always make sure to choose designs that are responsive, meaning they adapt their look and feel depending on the screen size and orientation they are. Since modern digital consumers keep switching between devices, responsive designs ensure your brand remains identifiable and distinct regardless of its environment.
If your budget allows, buy exclusive rights to all the designs you finalize so you can fully protect your brand’s visual identity.
Conclusion: The Future of AI-generated Visuals for Small Brands
From fears to favourites, it’s been quite a journey for AI-generated visuals. In a few short years, they have proven their relevance and significance to brands, big or small. Global names like Nutella, Nike, and Skype have all used generative AI for automated visuals and benefitted immensely.
But their true potential lies in what they can do for smaller brands with more democratic resources. If the description fits you, start exploring AI design options and witness the immense flair they have for taking your brand from average to exceptional!