5 Nov 2014
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The Argument for Artistry

Creativity and Artistry have never been so accessible. Enabled by technology, people are empowered to be creative and expressive in their daily lives. With so much artistry in the public domain, how can brands stand out and create connections with consumers? The One Centre CEO John Ford examines the argument for artistry.

Brands and businesses need to recognise the power of artistry in creating impact.

Everyone’s an artist these days. Everyone’s a photographer, filmmaker, designer, stylist, speaker or philosopher. Technology and social media have empowered us to express ourselves in our daily lives. The technology that’s given us the power to communicate in ways that make us look brilliant is also spurring an era of marketing creativity higher and more profound than ever. In this river of creativity, artistry can cut through and elevate a brand.

It hasn’t always been so. Advertising industry history shows a strong distinction has existed between non-commercial creativity - the world of art, culture and entertainment - and commercial creativity’s world of advertising and branding. While the two worlds have drawn inspiration from each other, they have largely remained separate.

The commercial world of selling has always been acknowledged as an artful practice, while to the marketing community the world of art is often viewed as beautiful but ineffective. To this day, marketers exhibit a fear of the words ‘art’ and ‘artistry’ believing they infer a lack of commercial focus and accountability.

To some extent these labels have been replaced in agencies with words like ‘craft’ in an attempt to avoid the ‘A’ word but retain hope and reverence for something higher.

This presents a danger to marketers. People have never been so plugged-in to the worlds of creativity and artistry. The availability of creative tools, the accessibility to distribution channels via social media and the low cost of entry means more people are equipped with the tools and drive to push their creativity into the ether.

There is more creativity, more expression, more songs, more films, more photography,  more fashion. Rivers of content and creativity are moving around us.

With this much content and creativity, brands and businesses need to recognise and accept the power of artistry in differentiating, gaining attention, and creating an impact with customers.

The challenge for brands is to avoid pumping more content into the ether. Creating quality amongst all the quantity is crucial.

The difficultly for brands is that many of the properties of brand building aren't able to evolve with this changing world. Valuable branding principles such as brand consistency, control of message and repeat theming are difficult to adapt to the circumstances and contexts in which brands find themselves today.

This presents an exciting opportunity for brands and marketers to ease the chains on some of these brand-building theories and encourage more thought-provoking expressions of the brand through different media and activities.

Artistry provides a powerful way to elevate brands into the world of culture, arts and entertainment to help create relationships with consumers as well as creating value for the brand beyond its basic functionality.

Brands today are fighting for attention and emotional impact in the marketplace and need to express themselves through advertising, products, design, packaging, brand environments, retail stores, online, branded content, sponsorships, collaborations and activities.

The challenge for brands is to avoid pumping more content into the ether. With consumers exposed to creativity on such a grand scale, creating quality amongst all the quantity is crucial. Valued  artists, designers and entertainers like Damien Hirst, Zaha Hadid, Marc Newson and Lady Gaga, are appreciated by the public because they come with a level of creativity, executional excellence, craft, originality, fame and social and cultural value just by virtue of their craft and what they do.

See creative examples below from Branded Arts Review, The One Centre's online publication.

Brands presenting themselves with these elements of artistry through product design and innovative communication and channel experiences will be the most interesting and emotionally engaging to consumers.

The key currency for consumers right now is surprise, originality and authenticity. It’s not about continually changing positioning and proposition, it’s about ways to explore fresh expressions of the brand.

There’s never been a stronger strategic case for big ideas and artistry.

Brands need to work harder on their strategy, ensuring that they connect their commercial opportunity with a consumer cause and culture, and contain a ‘big idea’ in their positioning, not just executions.

Ultimately, people seek purpose, meaning and emotional connection. The brands that not only stand for something bigger but bring this to life creatively in all they do with freshness, originality and conviction will become powerful commercial and cultural forces.

Perhaps the most compelling case for artistry lies in our own brain chemistry and humanity. Neuroscience shows our brains are hardwired to act on emotional experience. Our goal should be to elevate brands into emotionally compelling entities and experiences based on the power of their intrinsic ideas and outward expressions.

By containing cause and creative artistry we can transform strategic messaging into compelling emotional experiences lighting up the parts of our being that desire excitement, beauty and meaning and motivate us to act again and again.

Brands need to be consistent in what they stand for but continually exploring, playing and pushing the boundaries in how they express the brand. Artistry offers brand an emotive and impactful way to do just that. Artistry enables brands to do something incredible.

JOHN FORD is Founder & CEO of The One Centre and Executive Chairman of The One Centre Group.
He's also Publisher of Branded Arts Review, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the best branded content, entertainment, design, digital, architecture and experiences from around the world. LinkedIn johnnyford


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