In conclusion: AI vs. Human — Can You Tell?

A week ago, I conducted a quick experiment by posing the same branding question to myself and ChatGPT. The question was, “What is the value of brand relative to overall business value?” To make things a little more interesting, I also posted the two answers without attribution on LinkedIn and invited people to vote on which answer was by me and which was by the AI.

To recap, the answers were:

Answer A

The value of a brand can be significant in relation to overall business value. A strong brand can increase customer loyalty and trust, making it easier to attract new customers and retain existing ones. This can lead to higher sales and revenue, as well as greater pricing flexibility. A strong brand can also make a company more valuable by increasing its perceived value to investors, making it more attractive for mergers and acquisitions, and creating a “halo effect” that can benefit other products or services offered by the company. Additionally, it can help companies to secure better terms from suppliers and partners and increase the company’s ability to attract and retain top talent.

Answer B

According to data reported by The Economist, brand represents more than 30% of the market capitalization of companies in the S&P500 Index. Although this percentage varies by sector, the reason why brand generally is such a significant component of business value comes down to one simple fact: Purchase decisions are made by humans. People do use logic, but their decision-making is also influenced by perceptions and emotions. For example, a customer may prefer one brand over another because they have a better relationship with one brand’s salesperson, or prefer the social signaling afforded by a given brand. There are a host of subjective reasons why a customer will prefer one brand over another. These reasons will influence and may even counteract factual product features and price. This is the reason businesses invest in brands and branding.

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What did I learn?

First off, it bears repeating that this is not a particularly rigorous or scientific evaluation, but more of a qualitative analysis. That said, it’s interesting that the majority of voters (71%) correctly guessed that Answer A was from ChatGPT and Answer B was from yours truly. Although I do not have rationale from those who voted, I can share why I think most thought Answer A was from the AI: Answer A is a serial list of ways or areas in which brands can add value to a business. In many ways, it resembles a mini-review of the literature and reminds me of what a student might write when asked to answer the question as part of their homework. After some internet research they would compose the list into a flowing paragraph and call it done.

However, what Answer A lacks is a specific perspective or unique take on answering the question. This is provided by Answer B, which focuses on human subjectivity (emotions and perceptions) as being key to the value brand brings to its owner. I have to wonder whether the 29% who thought Answer B was written by ChatGPT may have been influenced by the presence of the statistic in the first sentence and perhaps by the discussion of logic and people. Perhaps some who so voted will share their thoughts in the comments below.

While the 71%/29% split does not meet the criteria of a Turing test, it is nevertheless worth pointing out that both answers were well-written and, in my opinion, Answer A (judging in the absolute) easily could have been written by a human being.

Now for the truly mind-blowing bit.

It took me 36 minutes to compose and edit Answer B. ChatGPT wrote Answer A in 5 seconds flat!

Side-stepping the potentially ego-crushing (ah, to be human) question of whether my answer was qualitatively that much better (if at all) than the AI’s answer, one truly has to marvel at the multiple orders of magnitude that ChatGPT could produce a good result faster than a human.

I confess to feeling both amazed and concerned.

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Frank Schab
An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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