MealMissions.com was originally the subject of this blog series. Built with the Unhuman Autoblogger — the first in our Unhuman collection of AI products — the recipe site is a proof of concept, not an end goal or a product we believe can go the distance. As dynamic as the AI space is, we’ve continued to move and shift our focus to where else we can go and what else we can build. In mid-March, Whurley, the CEO of Strangeworks and a leader in the AI and quantum computing space, used the Unhuman Autoblogger to populate his blog with five years’ worth of quantum computing and artificial intelligence news. And it all happened within the two hours prior to his SXSW talk.
Next up for the Big Human team is creating a brand for all the products that fall under the Unhuman umbrella. To start that process, we looked into how AI — specifically, Midjourney — could help us create mood boards. Often one of the first steps we take when starting the branding process, a mood board is a general visual direction that can be explored. Typically, these collages include images, fonts, materials, and additional design elements that encompass the overall look and feel of the brand.
Here’s how we used Midjourney, and what the overall AI-meets-branding experience taught us.
Tools like Are.na and Google images, plus our own brains, were used in an exercise around tying visuals to Unhuman’s brand values: efficient, techno-magical, augmented, and infinite boundless.
We attempted to replicate the visual directions by going into Midjourney and Dall-E and entering prompts centered around our key brand values. Designer’s note: This took forever.
As with other AI scenarios, prompt engineering was of the utmost importance. We ended up spending more time finessing the prompt instead of actually looking at the visuals. In the end, the prompt engineering took our designers out of the creative process. It felt very mechanical.
The goal of a brand mood board is to uncover and create things that do not yet exist. Midjourney can only show you things that have already been made. Humans have the capability to come up with new visions; AI cannot think. Therefore, while the Midjourney mood boards may have been fun, they did not feel original.
That left us feeling limited and uninspired. This is when we turned to Are.na to develop our mood boards for the Unhuman brand. An online social networking community and creative research platform, Are.na led us to things we hadn’t seen before. There was an almost serendipitous nature to the process of searching for inspiration. When a designer starts from a place of familiarity, they can build upon that by finding connections through other people’s collections. Tools like Are.na allow you to expand on your own ideas as you come across familiar things (i.e. a scientific illustration from a childhood textbook) that spark ideas about higher-level concepts, which can then be used for logos or visuals
We’re still putting the final touches on the Unhuman brand and site, but you can follow along on the Big Human Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest.