A Brand Agent is an artificial employee representing an organisation’s brand, either commercial, NGO or governments’ brands. Such an agent, often visualised as a (3D) avatar or by a photograph of a human model, can answer most of the visitors’ questions using natural language communication.
Brand Agents not only remember previous communication as stored in the databases of the represented organisations, (also called the brand memory), but also all transaction details between consumer and brand are saved. Based on shared history between consumers and brands, Brand Agents continue the dialog with a particular user exactly where it ended last time.
A Brand Agent is a branded conversational agent that acts independently on behalf of a brand, either commercial brands such as corporate, service and product brands or non commercial brands for governments and NGO’s. It can be considered as an artificial employee that simulates face-to-face conversation, chats with users on behalf of the brand, answers questions and asks the human visitor questions in spoken-word. Its branding becomes apparent by its visualisation, its tone of voice, word choice, shared values, storytelling, gestures and background.
The following video may serve as an idea of a Brand Agent performing an interactive tour on the iPhone website.
Brand agents are icons of the evolving ability of brands to listen to a fully automated dialogue, gradually replacing the standard practice of advertising, building brands through (well thought out) media campaigns in newspapers, radio, television, outdoor and internet advertising. As we all know, true relationships are built by personal attention, by listening, and by individual feedback. The same applies to relationships with brands in the future. Brand agents show us direction. They are the opposite of advertising; they are the main point of contact between brands and humans in the 21th century.
The term Brand Agent is a composite of two words: brand and agent.
The word agent dates back to late XV century meaning “one who acts”, from Latin agentem, present participle of agere - “to set in motion, drive, lead, conduct”. Meaning “any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon” was first recorded in 1570s.
The term brand originates from Old English brond meaning “fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch,” and (poetic) “sword,” from Proto-Germanic (a hypothetical prehistoric ancestor of all Germanic languages, including English) brandaz (compare Old Norse brandr, Old High German brant, Old Frisian brond). Meaning of “identifying mark made by a hot iron” (1550s) broadened in 1827 to “a particular make of goods.” Brand name dates back to 1922.
Nowadays, academics such as psychologists, sociologists and brand researchers are in agreement that a brand can be defined as an association network in humans’ brains related to a particular brand. These networks spring from the very first moment a young human being gets in touch with a brand and develops through the rest of the stages of their lives. The networks are fed by every possible interaction between human and brand: personal experience with products & services delivered by this brand, conversations about a brand with friends, or through advertising, packaging, direct marketing, PR, internet, mobile, a sales employee or even telemarketing.
It is interesting to note that association networks for brands are very similar to neural networks in our brains in relation to objects, people and concepts. This implies that our brain treats brands just like human beings: that is why we do attribute personality to brands, as we do to human beings, we can feel emotions, and in theory, we can even love brands like we love human beings. Our emotions with brands are more limited by technology than by limitations in our brain, simply because there are no limitations. Currently, it is still hard to imagine though. Do you love Apple the way you love your family? Probably not, though you might feel a bond. In the future however, people will experience true relationships with brands. They will be prepared to fight for a brand, like many people still fight on behalf of their religion.
A Coca-Cola executive once commented that if the company were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would have little difficulty in raising enough capital to rebuild its factories. By contrast, however, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business. It is precisely the well-established representation for Coca-Cola in the minds of the consumers and the trade that provides equity for the brand name Coke.
People feel bonded to Coca Cola, but they still do not feel a relationship, and certainly they do not love the brand. Our brain network, however, does not hold back on loving brands, but there is a current lack in ability of brands: they cannot listen (which any loving conversational partner can do). Brands have not been building loving relationships with human beings, just yet.
The term Brand Agent was introduced by Dutch futurist Erwin Van Lun in his book Van Massamerk naar Mensmerk to illustrate the growing ability of future brands to build relationships. Van Lun predicts the future of media, marketing and brands by a thorough analysis of human behaviour in the past, biological drivers and future technologies. He concludes that brands, as we know them today, can be compared to simple pets like mice, hamster or gold fishes: they hardly have the ability to build true relationships with humans. Brands of tomorrow, represented by human-like brand agents, will be able to maintain emotional relationships with human beings, like never demonstrated before. These kinds of brands will slowly move into society as time, technology and academic insights progresses.
Van Luns book was nominated for the Dutch Marketing Literature awards. He is, not incidentally, also the founder of Chatbots.org. He strongly believes in artificial conversational characters that will play an unlimited number of different roles in tomorrow’s society.
Brand Agent pages
Although we use chatbot as the main synonym on this website, please do not be confused. There are more than 161 synonyms in use by academics, business and brand agent enthusiasts! It is simply a matter of reading between the lines.
Please check out our main directory with 1220 live brand agent examples (an overview as maintained by developers themselves), our vendor listing with 190 brand agent companies and brand agent news section with already more than 365 articles! Our research tab contains lots of papers on brand agents, 1,166 journals on brand agents and 387 books on brand agents. This research section also shows which universities are active in the brand agent field, indicates which publishers are publishing journals on humanlike conversational AI and informs about academic events on brand agents. Also, check out our dedicated tab for awards, contest and games related to the brand agent field, various forums like our AI forum by brand agent enthusiasts and add any brand agent as created by yourself and your colleagues to our brand agent directory. Please do not forget to register to join us in these exciting times.
A selection of pages on this website using 'brand agent':
Alternative usage of Brand Agents
Brand Agent is the name of an American advertising interactive agency.