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Leithal Thinking Brand & Marketing Consultancy

Brands misunderstood

Brands misunderstood

17/08/10 in Strategy

We’ve recently been working on creating a new brand identity for a major arts funding body. It’s been an inclusive, liberating and insightful process throughout, one that has given everyone a clear focus about what they stand for and how it relates to audiences.

As part of the exercise we talked to quite a few people in the artistic community about what they thought of our work to date – we took them through the some of the identity options and used their feedback in crafting the final executions.

They all had different opinions, except on one thing – that as the people responsible for creating the “brand” we would get slaughtered by the arts community whatever we did. Said in a cheerful, “you’ve-got-to-live-with-it” sort of smile. The reason being that money should go to the arts/ output/ product, whatever you call it, rather than something regarded as “puffery”.

It made us ponder. Do we spend too much attention and money on “branding” in the arts?  Are the arts really any different from branded goods? The simple answer is “No” to both and here’s why. There has been an explosion of identity design and the reinvention of the art gallery/museum as brand. Culture has fundamentally become a business, whether you like it or not. In these recessionary times, with imminent funding cuts and receding sponsorship, creative institutions need to rethink how they work and how creating a  strong identity can help them.

Maybe it’s about getting the message across that branding is not just about creating a logo. It’s about having an identity and then going beyond that, a culture and a clear programme for delivery. Everything it does underpinned by the single idea that the organisation stands for. This is no different in business, companies with a clear sense of who they are proven to be more successful.

For it’s audiences: public, government, partners, artists and staff the brand will need to answer many different type of questions: Why should I care? Why do we need it? Why should we support it? It’s brand will allow it to do this.

There are widespread misconceptions about branding agencies being just interested in taking-the-money-and-running, dragging something out of a drawer, dusting it down and re-presenting to the next poor unsuspecting client. And there’s always the “I could have done that” or “I could do better”. The press loves this sort of stuff.

But here’s the reality check. Now more than ever, people have huge choice, and very limited time. Faced with multiple options, they need to know quickly how they can relate to you.  So maybe we need to get out more. Start talking sense to more people that wish to listen. Just a thought. Leithal or otherwise.

Image courtesy of Austin Taylor ©2010 http://www.austintaylorphotography.com

Tags: Insight