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7 examples of real businesses using DALL·E for visual content

By Ryan Kane · April 5, 2024
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A few years ago—before the advent of mainstream generative AI tools—my wife gave me a digital drawing tablet as a birthday gift. I'd wanted to pick up digital art as a hobby, but I quickly lost steam. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to get started, the idea of learning the complex software and techniques involved felt overwhelming.

Then, in April 2022, DALL·E 2 was released, followed in October 2023 by the even more impressive DALL·E 3. All of a sudden, instead of learning complicated programs, I could create digital art in seconds with an AI prompt. I was hooked. To see what the AI was capable of, I started plugging random prompts into the system.

My early experimentations with DALL·E led to unforgettable images like "a zebra wearing a suit and holding a smartphone, digital art" and "a 3D render of a hamburger-shaped UFO with a psychedelic background."

My favorite output—a surreal, Zootopia-worthy portrait—was "a sloth wearing a suit and making a call on a cell phone on a busy New York street."

An AI-generated image of a sloth in a suit made of hair

Toying around with DALL·E is a fascinating window into the immense promise of generative AI, along with its shortcomings and quirks.

But as entertaining as it is to create random images for fun, DALL·E is already having an immediate impact in a more practical realm: the business world.

In this article, I'll walk you through seven examples of real businesses using DALL·E in their day-to-day operations. From content to ideation to product design, you'll see the potential of AI-driven visual content—and hopefully, you'll come away with inspiration for using DALL·E in your own business.

1. Ideating physical products

Alexia Adana, Director of Creative Technology at Edelman, described in a LinkedIn article how she works with DALL·E 3 (along with ChatGPT) to ideate new physical products. She sees DALL·E not as a replacement for designers but as "a great starting place to create a mood board and work with designers, copywriters, and art directors to strengthen and finalize the concept."

Now that DALL·E is available within ChatGPT Plus, Alexia recommends starting with a prompt like this: "I'd like you to act as my creative co-pilot. I'll be brainstorming ideas for the following project…" Once your back-and-forth with ChatGPT has given you enough to work with (audience persona, market research, and product ideas), you can use DALL·E to iterate on product concepts. 

For example, Alexia used DALL·E to generate the following concept for a subscription product targeting Gen Z consumers.

An AI-generated image of tea products
Image source

2. Creating a brand identity

Ray Wong, a consultant and DALL·E power user, outlined his DALL·E 3-powered logo design process on X. Using DALL·E's integration with ChatGPT, he starts simple: "I need some logo designs for a company that will be teaching workshops on urban sketching."

Once he has an output he likes, he asks DALL·E to refine it. For example: "Keep the design for image 4 but use mid-century modern colors and make the logo circular with the words surrounding the circle."

An AI-generated logo from Ray Wong

From there, he iterates and fixes small mistakes. (For example, DALL·E 3 still makes frequent spelling errors. Using ChatGPT's interface, you can correct them). After working through the logo design with DALL·E, Ray's process is nearly finished: "90% of the work is done, and I can go and fix the font style and text in another tool."

3. App mockups

Nick Dobos, an app designer, says DALL·E 3 is perfect for app mockups: "New DALL·E is so good... Way more steerable than anything else I've tried. I made an app mockup in 3 prompts."

Creating app mockups normally takes serious graphic design skills, but DALL·E helps you go from idea to visual concept in just a few minutes. Nick started by instructing DALL·E to provide an image of an iPhone with a green screen; then, he asked DALL·E to replace the green part of the image with an app wireframe mockup.

To refine the mockup, Nick used DALL·E 3's inpainting feature (released in April 2024) to highlight certain parts of the image and describe detailed changes: adding a tab bar, a hero image, and an image. 

Here's the end result after three prompts.

4. Printing custom art

For restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses, interior design is a big deal. It sets the vibe of the place and can turn customers into repeat customers. But what happens if you can't quite find the look you need? Sourcing unique, affordable art that fits thematically with your business can be challenging.

That's where DALL·E comes in.

Kam Talebi, CEO of Butcher's Tale, a restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, shared his experience using DALL·E for creating custom art pieces:

"We used DALL·E to create a couple of pieces of art and had them printed in a large format to decorate one of our restaurants. We wanted something unique and affordable. What better way than to use AI to create prints to hang? There are many people who are creating these AI prints and selling them, but we had a specific theme in mind and decided to sort it out ourselves. It took dozens of tries to get the two we used, but it was still cost-effective."

5. An alternative to stock photos

Isn't it time we retired those cheesy business stock photos? You know the ones—two business people in ill-fitting suits smiling broadly and shaking hands. Putting stock photos on your website, whether they're terrible or just predictable, makes it hard to stand out.

Frank Strong, a B2B PR and marketing consultant, told me, "I used to use free stock photos, and these images by DALL·E are just 1000% more visually appealing." He shared his experience using DALL·E for website images:

"I've started using DALL·E to create header photos for blog posts. I put the image in the header, and then link to a high res version in a 'credit' at the end of every post. Some of these are pretty creative. For example, today I published a piece about content consumption in B2B, and asked DALL·E for an image of 'a diverse group of professional men and women, dressed in business attire, reading pages from various reports, articles and white papers in the style of van Gogh.'"

An AI-generated hero image from an article by Frank.
The AI-generated hero image from this article by Frank.

By using generative AI, Frank has been able to create a one-of-a-kind feel that's miles away from a typical stock photo-driven website.

6. 3D renders

Architecture firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has started incorporating AI-generated designs into its projects. Most of ZHA's projects now use AI text-to-image generators like DALL·E and Midjourney for design ideas.

The firm selects a small portion of the AI-generated designs to take forward to the 3D modeling phase. Occasionally, they'll also show DALL·E designs to clients during the ideation phase of a project to generate ideas.

One advantage ZHA has is that Zaha Hadid, the late namesake of the firm, was a legendary architect with many prominent designs—meaning that DALL·E's model already has a detailed understanding of the firm's style. In a conversation with the design magazine Dezeen, ZHA principal Patrik Schumacher said:

"Not every single project is using it but let's say most—I'm encouraging everybody who's working on competitions and early ideation to see what comes up and just to have a larger repertoire."

For ZHA, it's all about generating good ideas:

"For me it's always been very similar to verbal-prompting teams, referencing prior projects and ideas and gesticulating with my hands. That's the way of generating ideas and I can do that now directly with Midjourney or [DALL·E], or the team can do it as well on our behalf, and so I think that's quite potent."

To see what this process looks like, I tried my hand at Zaha Hadid-inspired architecture ideation using DALL·E. Here's the prompt I used: "a group of three cabins on a mountainous hillside, designed in the style of zaha hadid."

In a few seconds, DALL·E spun up the futuristic, Zaha Hadid-esque cabins below.

An image generated by DALL-E with Ryan's prompt

I'd live there in a heartbeat.

7. Generating meta images

For Copy.ai, an AI marketing tool, integrating DALL·E has sped up the company's content creation process significantly. Here's what Chris Lu, one of Copy.ai's cofounders, told me:

"We use DALL·E to generate visual content for our blog posts, social media, and website design. DALL·E has significantly impacted our workflow by speeding up the content creation process and allowing us to experiment with different visual styles effortlessly."

The biggest current use case that they're implementing at scale is generating meta images: those images that represent each article when you paste links into Facebook and other social networks. Chris sent me this DALL·E-generated meta image example:

An AI-generated meta image

Using DALL·E to propel your business

The verdict is in: businesses of all types are seeing productivity (and creativity) gains with DALL·E, especially now that it integrates directly with ChatGPT. To understand what DALL·E can do for your business, start small. Follow your curiosity. Experiment with DALL·E in different parts of your business, and pay attention to the prompts that align most with your brand.

Best case scenario: you'll unlock enormous productivity gains that accelerate your business. Worst case scenario: you'll have fun with it and end up with a portfolio of quirky images that rival my DALL·E sloth-businessman masterpiece.

Related reading:

  • How to create logos with DALL·E and Zapier

  • How to automate OpenAI

  • The best AI productivity tools

  • Stable Diffusion vs. DALL·E: Which is better?

  • How to Use DALL·E 3 to create AI images with ChatGPT

This article was originally published in May 2023. The most recent update was in April 2024.

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