Designing Brands in The Era of AI with Lucas Rhys

Category: Tech & Innovation
28 Mar 2024
Read time: 10 MIN
Putting presentation to paper, designer and AI ace Lucas Rhys walks us through the artistic formula for creating a compelling hospitality brand, copiloted by a variety of artificial intelligence.
Written By
MOF Team
MOF Team

Picture 80s icons. Whitney Houston, George Michael, Princess Di, Madonna. Shoulder pads, grunge as mainstream, walkmans. Of all the cultural marks defining the decade though, one has endured as not only a symbol of nostalgic retro aesthetics but a ubiquitous digital icon: the floppy disk.

Originally called a diskette, floppy disks were external memory storage devices popularly used throughout the 80s and 90s. Often colourful with handwritten labels, ‘floppies’, as they were affectionately known, were easily swapped among friends to share games and other software. By 2011 though, these retro squares had been rendered obsolete in their original function to save and store, replaced by USB flash drives. And yet, the floppy disk lives on as the ‘save’ icon in the minds (and screens) of most. 

“It’ll be the same for AI.” So I’m told, settling in a conference room too large for just two of us. It’s not the first AI briefing Lucas Rhys – brand and motion designer – has given, and, I can say with unwavering certainty, it won’t be the last. 

For what must feel like the hundredth time, Lucas explains the semiotic parallels between AI and the floppy disk: 

Just as ‘floppies’ have remained graphically unchanged, despite inaccuracy, AI – currently represented by a sparkle icon, connoting magic – will forever have an unofficial mascot in this once-frivolous emoji ✨, even when the magic novelty wanes once the tech becomes inextricably embedded in our day-to-day. 

A regular ‘front-of-house-r’ with clients, Lucas has a quietly cool and all-round charming kind of stage presence indifferent to audience size (in this case, one) and fortified by his staggering depth of knowledge surrounding design and artificial intelligence. 

Click-clacking on computers since before possessing the proper dexterity for it (see below), Lucas takes the average person’s interest in the newest technologies and raises it. After being lucky enough to play around with the first Oculus Rift, he went through a 3D-printing phase before venturing into the digiscapes of crypto and NFTs. Not the ill-fabled tech bro by any means, he’s also not a huge fan of the research stage in design: the endless moodboarding and comping graphics together pre-finesse don’t appeal. It’s this search for workflow optimisation tools that landed Lucas in the then-new (to the general public at least) waters of AI. 

For those who haven’t been online at any point in the last couple of years, AI (artificial intelligence) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. AI models are made by feeding large amounts of data to algorithms that can learn to identify patterns and make predictions based on the data set. It’s also all anyone wants to talk about in the creative industries. Or every industry in fact.

Neither utopian nor dystopian as of yet, artificial intelligence will either be the antidote to the aesthetically barren or its precursor, depending on who you ask. What we all can agree on (primarily because it’s fact) is that the power sits with the prompter. 

This is because, at its most basic, AI is powered by language models. Large language models, or LLMs, are a type of AI that can mimic human intelligence. By analysing large volumes of data with statistical models, they’re able to identify patterns and relationships between individual words and phrases. This base framework, despite the widespread use of AI being in its nascent stages, is fundamentally changing the way we interact and communicate. 

Previously, it would take someone years to master the science of talking to computers (code). Now, we can converse with them in plain English. Our voices and language are the new interface and the key to unlocking everything AI can do.

Artificial Intelligence & Brand Creation

The advent of AI has not only inundated the public with endless news and intense philosophical queries, we now have access to countless products claiming anyone can create anything. As well as streamlining processes in everything from branding and digital to advertising, marketing and so on. If this is the case, could it create a compelling hospitality brand through prompts alone?

Following an oversimplified branding process (in the interest of fairness), Lucas put AI to the test – using applications like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Sora, Runway and more.


The first step of any decent strategy is getting a lay of the land. What are guests looking for in 2024? What trends are here to stay? What would be a commercially successful business?

In tandem, any significant project using AI starts and ends with language models. Whether we’re using OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Gemini, Microsoft Copilot or newcomer Claude AI, prompt engineering is something of an art form. But there are formulas to be learnt.

According to Lucas, the most accessible, yet effective, of which is the RISEN framework – standing for Role / Instruction / Steps / End Goal / Narrowing. 

To begin generating the brand concept at hand, Lucas kicked off with the following prompt to ChatGPT:

Input: I'm going to create a new hospitality brand. From the perspective of the copywriter give me six ideas for abstract concepts that haven't been thought of before.


  1. Local Artisan Collaboration Hotels
    Establish a brand that collaborates with local artisans and craftsmen to design rooms and spaces, offering guests an immersive experience into the local culture and craftsmanship. Each hotel could feature unique room designs, handmade furniture, local art installations, and even artisanal food and drink menus, creating a deeply local and authentic experience.
  2. Seasonal Concept Resorts
    Develop resorts that completely change their theme, décor, activities, and menus with the seasons. For example, a winter theme could offer cosy, warm interiors with skiing and winter sports, while summer might transform the same resort into a beach-themed paradise with water sports and outdoor dining. This concept keeps the experience fresh and encourages repeat visits.
  3. Silence and Solitude Sanctuaries
    With the increasing noise and distraction in daily life, offer a retreat focused on silence and solitude. Unlike full isolation pods, these could be more accessible, offering silent zones, technology-free rooms, and quiet gardens or natural areas for meditation and reflection. This concept would cater to those seeking a break from the digital world and the hustle of life.
  4. Sensory Exploration Spaces
    Develop a brand focused on heightening or altering sensory perceptions. Rooms and spaces could be designed to intensify or mix sensory experiences, such as scent gardens, tactile galleries, and soundscapes, encouraging guests to explore and engage with their environment in novel ways.
  5. Eco-Conscious Micro Resorts
    Small-scale luxury resorts with a strong focus on sustainability, utilizing local materials, renewable energy, and offering organic farm-to-table dining experiences. Each resort could be themed around local ecosystems and cultures, providing an immersive experience that educates guests on environmental conservation.
  6. Future Forward Hotels
    Integrating cutting-edge technology for a futuristic stay experience, including AI personal assistants, robot-serviced amenities, virtual reality experiences, and rooms that adapt to guests' preferences for lighting, temperature, and entertainment.

Now, to be fair to any pedantic Luddites that may have stumbled upon this experiment, all six responses have almost certainly been thought of before. But time is money. GPT imagined and collated six brand concepts in seconds, adding a new layer of meaning to the phrase “only human.”

Inspired by our CEO’s recent getaway to a week-long silent retreat with Vipassana, Lucas selected Silence and Solitude Sanctuaries as the concept to move forward with.


Having pinned down the brand concept, reflective of market gaps and consumer desires, we needed GPT to generate a name. Quite a contentious concept – a quick scroll of LinkedIn shows strategists shudder at the thought of AI-generated brand names. Lucas did it anyway.

Input: Give me 10 creative names for the silence sanctuaries concept from the perspective of a copywriter or designer using linguistic wit and clever devices.

Output: Hush Haven, Zenith, Pause Pavilion, Silencio, Quietude, Whispering Willows, Quietus, Silentium Sanctum, Tranquil Terrace, Repose.

GPT has a thing for alliteration clearly, but all-in-all the generated brand names aren’t bad. They’re quite explicitly on-theme – AI models don’t yet tend to deal in subtleties, but a short back-and-forth delivers further refinement where wanted.

After quickly requesting a relevant brand colour palette for ‘Whispering Willows’ and typography suggestions, Lucas has a brand concept – complete with a whimsical name and the beginnings of a visual identity. What would typically take days, if not week-long sprints, has been compressed into a matter of minutes.


Designing The Logo

Image generation is perhaps the most prevalent use of AI since the tech became open access. Programmes like Midjourney, DALLٜٜ•E 2, and now Adobe Firefly have brought AI’s magic touch to content creation. At the time of writing, Midjourney continues to lead the charge in terms of functionality; OpenAI’s DALLٜٜ•E 2 has been seemingly forgotten about in favour of what they’re doing in video generation with newly launched Sora and what Lucas calls “a bit of internal time”; Adobe Firefly presents an interesting model in terms of copyright as the AI is trained exclusively on Adobe Stock, A.K.A. licensed imagery.

Lucas is a Midjourney pro – wisdom he’s played with, honed and passed on frequently to the rest of our creative team. As a blanket rule, he suggests hitting four key elements in your image prompts: 

  • Set the main scene
  • Describe the details of the image
  • Describe the setting 
  • Add any styles or medium specs at the end

Now named, Whispering Willows needed an emblem reflective of the concept and whimsical nature of the brand. Using Midjourney 6.0, Lucas asked for a logo: 

Input: Simple iconographic logo of willow trees forming the shape of a doorway, with a WW monogram in the doorway. White #FFFFFF vector on a Black #000000 background. --s 0 --ar 16:9 --v 6.0 --style raw

Note: Use of “vector”, Lucas explains, tells Midjourney we’re not looking for anything textural. Instead, something iconographic, more pictorial than text, although Midjourney’s spelling capabilities are quite impressive now.


Imagining a Hotel

With the brand foundations set, it was only right to play with how the hotel itself might come to life, asking AI to imagine what Whispering Willows could physically look like – inspiring the location, architecture, surroundings and so on. We had no idea Lucas could be so romantically descriptive.

Input: A mystical scene where a hotel is glimpsed through a mist-filled landscape, framed by the silhouette of willow leaves. The mist adds a layer of depth and intrigue, obscuring details and leaving much to the imagination. The stylistic approach focuses on the interplay between the visible and the hidden, with the mist acting as a medium that both reveals and conceals. The willows, shrouded in fog, lend a haunting beauty to the composition, creating a sense of quiet isolation and mystery around the hotel. Taken on: hazy lighting conditions, dreamlike clarity

--s 0 --ar 16:9 --v 6.0 --style raw


So, Can AI Create Compelling Brands?

With the right prompter, it certainly passes the basics. It’s pretty remarkable that, within minutes, a brand can emerge with very little human effort.

However. While impressive, Whispering Willows – in both concept and visual identity – lacks the finesse and thoughtful consideration of most brands today, especially luxury marques. Because AI creates an ‘average’ of all that it ‘knows’, it’s difficult to simply stumble upon something groundbreaking. When the AI is essentially pulling blades of grass from the same ground.

The cure? Specificity. 

Detailed prompts are the best prompts. They usually hold that much more personality and that’s what keeps us away from the generic. Personality.
Lucas Rhys, Brand & Motion Designer

Creatives everywhere can breathe a collective sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that vision – the idea – is still the driving force behind anything worth making. Artificial intelligence just doesn’t have the same capacity for imagination as humans do. Though the works generative AI produces can be strikingly impressive – beautiful, even – they’re amalgamations of what humans already know; what’s already nestled in the data set, pulling from artefacts that are the result of people’s imaginations. Not necessarily the machine’s. 

Creativity does not equal your technical skill. We can all imagine something as magnificent as the Mona Lisa but not all of our hands could physically create it. AI serves to reduce that gap (chasm for some of us) between vision and creation by fundamentally changing the way we interact. We’re working through a new interface – our voices and language – to transfer our mind’s eye onto paper. And though it might seem daunting, that has been the case throughout every technical revolution humankind has experienced. 

For those small business owners or start-ups with a vision but struggling to execute, lacking creative flair or resource, AI is an invaluable tool in creating an initial brand. But for businesses looking to architect a distinctive brand with depth and care, it’s not about the average – it’s the outlier, the gap in the market, the intangible thing that sets one apart they should be seeking.

Laptop lid now closed, I asked Lucas what note he’d like to leave on. He said:

“Artificial Intelligence is at its worst right now. It’s only going to get better. So be ahead of it when it does.”

AI & The Creative Industries: Our Work

We’re not afraid or ashamed to say AI is used daily – if not hourly – by the creatives in our studio. In our time working with it, we’ve been fascinated to see the tech evolve and it’s become an increasingly useful weapon in our creative arsenal.

From gathering market research at speed, initial concept ideation and file conversion to voiceover generation, moodboarding and visualising the yet unrealised, we can’t stress enough how important AI can be in bringing our visions to life.

In a world of fearmongering, we’re hopeful everyone in the industry (not just creative practitioners) can see the advantages AI can bring to the work, instead of carelessly casting it as a threat. 

We encourage you to get involved. Get savvy. Learn. Befriend language models. Write killer prompts. Get ahead. Because, as we well know, time waits for no one – and neither does tech.

Join the likes of Walpole, Boodles, Luxury Communications Council and Perowne International with a tailored and up-to-date (almost to the hour) AI briefing, courtesy of Lucas, for you and your team – covering news, techniques and all of the above plus video, music generation, vocal synthesis and more. Enquire now via

Find Lucas on Linkedin, Instagram (@lucasrhys) or at

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