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AI-Generated Images: Balancing Promise and Pitfalls for Small Businesses.

Ai generated images for small business owners blog post image for rawmarrow

AI-Generated Images for Small Businesses

For small business owners and solo businesses, creating original visual content often comes with limitations, such as time constraints, tight budgets, and limited design skills. AI-generated images offer the ability for small business owners to create visuals for any marketing or communication purposes. With AI, even those lacking design expertise can create visuals for themselves. 

As a small business owner, you know how important great visuals are for marketing your brand and products. But finding or creating the perfect images can be time-consuming and expensive. Recently, AI has emerged as a promising new tool for automating image generation at scale. But does AI come with risks you need to consider as well?

AI Generated Visuals

Yes, anyone can now use an AI image generator like DALL-E 2 or Midjourney and Stable Diffusion just to name a few popular ones, to produce unique images on demand without hiring a designer or photographer. Simply describe what you want to see in words, and the AI will spit out photorealistic visuals in seconds. 

However we would argue that the outputs are very much dependent on the inputs (prompt used) and also the AI image model used.

This level of convenience and customisation is appealing for small business owners. You’d have unlimited stock photos at your fingertips to use on social media, your website, ads and more. No more spending hours searching stock photo sites, doing it yourself or using rawmarrow. Only kidding there will always be people who need us for a while yet!

At the same time, some argue these AI image generators may lead to “sameyness” (yes we know that’s not a word) over time. As the algorithms are trained on vast datasets of human-made works, their outputs start to converge. You may find your visuals have a very “AI generated” look and feel. While improved variety is an active area of research, for now AI images still lack the nuance and personality of human works.

Currently, stock images are notorious for this, and many businesses try to avoid using them for exactly this reason. So are AI generated images the new “oh they are using stock images”. While AI is marketed as being able to create unique images, the reality is that many use cases for AI-generated images result in a very similar look.

AI generated images.

(Image source):AI generated user gallery images.

Visual AI Use Cases For Small Business Owners.

AI-generated visuals offer an invaluable resource for a range of use cases. Small business owners can use AI technology to enhance their social media presence, website appeal, and marketing materials. 

  1. Customised Marketing Material- AI-generated visuals can be customised to specific marketing needs, creating eye-catching advertisements, promotional material, and social media content that resonates with your target audience.
  2. Personalised Product Imagery-Showcase your products with captivating visuals generated AI. Tailor the images to highlight unique features, demonstrate functionality, or create visual narratives that engage potential customers.
  3. Web Design and User Experience- Use AI-generated images to create visually appealing websites that captivate visitors and provide an immersive user experience. Custom visuals can enhance your brand story and create a memorable online presence.

From creating customised graphics for digital advertising campaigns to designing visually stunning websites, AI-powered tools can help business owners with their visual communication while potentially saving time and resources. We say potentially as there is a learning curve involved with learning how to prompt to get the outputs you want, there can also be a cost involved depending on the AI model you use to generate your images.

Human and AI Combination.

Small business owners and solo business owners should combine AI-generated images with a human touch. By skillfully incorporating these visuals into your branding strategies, you can maintain your own unique identity and stand out in the crowd. It is crucial to strike a balance between using AI’s efficiency and complementing it with a touch of originality. This will ensure your brand remains authentic and recognisable to its target audience.

Quality of AI generated visuals.

The quality of AI-generated images is often questionable. While the images have come a long way in terms of realism, there’s still a distinct difference between images created AI and those taken photographers. This is especially true for smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to use AI models with superior quality that are often charged monthly.

In some cases, using AI-generated images may cause a business to appear low-budget or unprofessional. This could potentially harm their reputation and turn away potential customers.

For certain businesses, it may be best to avoid AI-generated images altogether. If you’re in a niche industry, images personalised to your business are often the better option as they can help you stand out from competitors and build trust with your audience.

In our experimentation we find limbs and fingers are often not depicted well, and lettering can be problematic !

The prompt for this image in Stable Diffusion was “A photorealistic image of an old fashioned book. The title “Rawmarrow helps small businesses” is embossed with gold lettering.”

(Image credit: Stable Diffusion/Rawmarrow)

ai generated picture of fingers incorrect.

(Image credit: Stable Diffusion / Andy Baio)

Infact there are numerous threads on reddit dedicated to AI fails. If you are interested in other AI fails there’s a whole article here.

The Future of AI Image Generation.

AI is constantly evolving, and it’s likely that the technology will become more refined in the future. While the current use cases may not be ideal for all small businesses, at the moment in all areas there’s potential for AI-generated images to become more creative and diverse in the future.

Legal Considerations.

There are also moral and legal questions around AI art which we have talked about before. Who really owns the copyright to AI-generated outputs? Could your business get in legal trouble for unknowingly using images with problematic or licensed content? As the technology advances, we’ll need clearer rules.

So in summary, AI image generation can be used as a tool for small businesses. But you’ll want to carefully consider whether the automated aesthetics still align well with your brand values and story. Also depending on the AI model used you need to be cautious of potential copyright issues.

You must also bear in mind the amount of time you dedicate to experimenting with AI generators versus the time spent on performing the task manually or outsourcing it to others. It is essential to strike a balance between using AI tools for efficiency and ensuring that the quality of the work remains consistent with your brand.

If you need help please get in touch.