Words like immersive experiences, augmented reality, virtual reality and IoT (Internet of Things) now proliferate our landscape. With artificial intelligence, here to stay whether we like it or not, we look at how it will influence branding, now and in the future.

1. Using data intelligence to sway your vote
World over, bullish leaders emerge, while many wonder – how Donald Trump despite being known for his boorish, egotistical, arrogant and extreme stances, won the Presidency or how Britain voted for Brexit. Are these logical votes or votes garnered by creating a certain kind of public opinion? Political parties have always studied demographics to see how to capture votes, as well as where and how they need to campaign to win. Today, your vote counts. In the future, we predict, you will be influenced to vote a certain way. The political party and its candidates evolve as a brand with a character, belief system and behaviour. The brand language they develop will attract their voters. While people feel they are being given a choice, our every opinion will be shaped and monitored.

2. The online platform steers you a certain way
Everything we do is connected today. So much data about us is being garnered. Each time we use an online agency, it picks up information about our purchasing capacity and interests. Online surveys determine how we make choices. Automatically, when you buy something on Amazon, it appears somewhere else. When data is combined with artificial intelligence, it becomes reasonably humanistic. New relationships will need to be established between the customer and the product, on embracing the future of AI, Machine Learning, Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality. A symbiotic alliance where designers deconstruct AI can happen by bringing in the requisite empathetic context to innovation. Mastering the skill of effectively optimising the calibre of this technology can lead to exciting opportunities.

3. Stimulating and enhancing life through artificial companions
From the young to the elderly, people are delighted with their smartphones, having access to all kinds of programs and suggestions about what to watch. Our smartphones have become our faithful companions, holding our memos, photos, contacts and chats, aside of being the hub for the latest news, music, lectures and shows. They are soft-wired into our system, like extensions of ourselves. Our reliance on these gadgets also makes us trust them implicitly. When brands use them assiduously, they become a flexible, fluid and convincing vehicle for branding.

4. Virtual tools that augment and assist
Algorithm-driven design tools help designers construct a UI, prepare relevant content to personalise user experience, thereby empowering them become storytellers. Multidisciplinary devices like voice recognition have come into vogue. Interactive usage of technology brought people together at IDEO where data science algorithms in the form of Meetbot, (a friendly humanoid meatball) which assisted in selecting, planning and scheduling lunches with varied disciplined workers across branches. Apple’s Siri, Netflix’s recommendation engine and Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo’s natural language processing (NLP) are popular New-Age virtual assistants. In a new Microsoft Future podcast episode, called How AI will make meetings less painful, we get a peek into its revolutionary product launch of Cortana- a virtual assistant in teleconference meetings, which aids in arranging meetings, taking memos and sending reminders to all members.

5. Creating immersive experiences
Simple AR apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat have brought down consumer walls and opened us up to the fun side of the technology. The emergence of immersive and playful AR galleries and exhibits saw artists coming together in San Francisco for an event known as the Festival of the Impossible, exploring how augmented and virtual reality transforms our perspectives and interactions with artworks. Such playful and humanistic engagement can transform how branding is done.

Virtual reality and augmented reality create live experiences at sites, allowing visitors to go back in time and connect it to place. An experience at an old monument lets you relive historical events in that very place. A picture on the wall with a QR code connects you to additional information as well as expandson the current experience. With most devices, even on a daily basis, you can be in Portugal one minute and Paris the next. The real-time transit cutting through distance and place puts control in your hands.  Branding can use this channel to effectively create extraordinary experiences as well as become a virtual partner to see you through a journey.

Written by Sujatha Shankar Kumar and Anwesha Mukherjee. Illustrations by Shejin and Agni.