Increasing Attendance and Support: Branding, Does it Still Matter?

Increasing Attendance and Support: Branding, Does it Still Matter?

Later in February I’ll be speaking as part of a panel at the California Association of Museums Conference on Friday, February 17, 2012. The conference runs from Wed-Fri, Feb 15-17 in Berkeley, California. Moderator and Panelists Joan G. Cumming, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at the Autry National Center...
Make Your Brand Messages Come Alive

Make Your Brand Messages Come Alive

Welcome. Isn’t that the first message we want people to know about our organizations—both as an offering and as the feeling we want them to have? Some of you have pointed out that for a brand consultant I seem to spent a lot of time focusing on brand identities and...
Branding a Building or Building a Brand?

Branding a Building or Building a Brand?

This October New York City Center will open its new season with improvements to its building exterior and a newly renovated interior. The architectural style of their Moorish Revival building reflects the theme of its original occupants. For those unfamiliar, City Center, a former Mecca Temple of the Ancient Arabic...
Brand Strategy vs. Design Strategy

Brand Strategy vs. Design Strategy

In past essays such as Branding vs. Marketing: In case you missed that lecture and Position first, then logo, I’ve touched on brand strategy informing key organization messages and organization visual identity. I should clarify brand strategy vs. design strategy and what defines each. Over the years, we’ve received cultural...
BFFs: Digital & Cultural Arts Branding

BFFs: Digital & Cultural Arts Branding

Sure it was just a coincidence. But the juxtaposition was just too priceless to ignore. In one day I received: 1. Online information commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first website. 2. A promotional email from Capacity Interactive Inc. pitching their inaugural Digital Marketing Boot Camp for Arts Marketers. 3....
Buzz without Billboards

Buzz without Billboards

Sometimes it’s about a simple creative idea well executed. And sometimes it’s about creating buzz and intrigue long before one’s brand is launched. This is part of a series of construction barricades that line the perimeter of the site for the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in...
National Maritime Museum: What's the Brand Strategy?

National Maritime Museum: What’s the Brand Strategy?

In Creative Review, I read recently of the announcement of Greenwich, London’s National Maritime Museum and the launch of their new visual identity. The article states, “The new identity, the launch of which coincides with the opening of a new wing at the National Maritime Museum, encompasses not just the...
Dinosaurs: Branding Beyond Extinction

Dinosaurs: Branding Beyond Extinction

Oh, c’mon, admit it! A wide-eyed, excited, little shiver went up your back at the mere mention of them, didn’t it? Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? I admit it.  I’ve loved them since I was young. I still have my first dinosaur book. I watched the Flintstones with amusement. And in...
When Branding is unnecessary

When Branding is unnecessary

It’s beautiful, sunny, and warm in New York today, just as beautiful as it was Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 almost ten years ago. In fact, that “message” of sorts is often mentioned when people begin to tell the story of 9/11 and that personal context is part of what...
Redux: Single Brand Strategy

Redux: Single Brand Strategy

The topic, Single Brand Strategy, from two weeks ago intrigued a number of readers, so much that I thought I’d clarify some of my thoughts and expand on other aspects. First, I am not against arts organizations creating sub-brands (names, sometimes logos, and message points for some of your arts...
Mission of Access: The Royal Ballet

Mission of Access: The Royal Ballet

The New York Times article, “Beer. Nachos. Arena. Ballet?” highlights the recent effort of The Royal Ballet to expand access to its programming. In mid-June, the Company held four performances of Romeo and Juliet at South London’s The O2 arena, the world’s largest single-roofed structure, which holds up to 20,000...
Single Brand Strategy

Single Brand Strategy

Some of you may be scratching your head, “What’s a single brand strategy and why should I care?” Simply put it’s when an arts organization decides to put all of its branding, marketing, and communications resources behind one name and one brand. “Don’t all arts organizations already do this?” you...
Living the Brand: LA Phil

Living the Brand: LA Phil

Programming will always be at the heart of any arts brand. It’s what sustains the arts organization, provides its reason for being, is the focal point for its vision, and provides the platform for the organization to live up to the promise of its brand. The Los Angeles Times reported...
Position first, then logo

Position first, then logo

Sometimes when we receive an RFP from a potential client or conduct a new business presentation, an arts organization will tell us that they want a new logo, but what they really need more, or before that, is positioning.  I’ve described in a previous essay the differences among an arts...
ROI for Branding in the Arts

ROI for Branding in the Arts

I was presenting my company’s credentials recently and afterwards the potential client, a performing arts administrator, asked, “what’s the return on investment for branding? Part of me was incredulous that he would ask this. Weren’t our amazing services and sparkling case studies alone enough to warrant the investment? Another part...
Branding the Arts of Tomorrow

Branding the Arts of Tomorrow

As the annual American Association of Museums Conference gets under way in Houston  I thought it might be fun to riff off of their theme for this year’s conference: The Museum of Tomorrow. Having grown up in southern California, when I hear “tomorrow” I always think of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and...
Who's your organization's brand champion?

Who’s your organization’s brand champion?

When you saw this essay’s title and saw the accompanying image, did you immediately know what I meant by brand champion? I chose Steve Jobs because he is probably the most recognized brand champion in the world. Could anyone embody the Apple brand more or better than him? As I...
Strategic Design in Action

Strategic Design in Action

A while back I posted an essay on Name changes: the real process. I based it on the merger of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company with Dance Theater Workshop, a groundbreaking event in the performing arts and dance world. No one had done anything like this...
Branding vs. Marketing: In case you missed that lecture

Branding vs. Marketing: In case you missed that lecture

When we started these essays we thought branding was pretty much a well-understood, accepted concept within the cultural arts field. But then we got this response to one of our new business letters sent to a marketing director regarding our brand strategy consulting services: “At this time, we focus our...
Thinking like Visitors in Repositioning the Nelson-Atkins Museum

Thinking like Visitors in Repositioning the Nelson-Atkins Museum

The New York Times Museums Special Section article, “In a Bigger Pond, and Looking to Make Ripples” is about Julian Zugazagoitia, the new director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, and his hope to broaden the Museum’s appeal. He’s started a conversation series called, “Art Tasting with Julian” and...
Understanding audiences for better branding

Understanding audiences for better branding

In general , consultants are collegial, but they don’t usually comment on each other’s work. It’s that whole competitive thing. But this exception is worth making because I’m an alumnus of the consulting firm that initiated this research study, respect their work, was involved in the inception of the study...
Branding on Board

Branding on Board

While listening to panelists at the Crain’s Arts and Culture Breakfast titled Board Games: How to Build and Keep a Strong Board, I was struck by what was not mentioned as pivotal in building strong boards: functional expertise. But first what was mentioned. Panelists included Alan Fishman, chairman, Brooklyn Academy...
Cultural Diplomacy: Arts Brands Abroad

Cultural Diplomacy: Arts Brands Abroad

Earlier this month I attended New York City’s Alliance for the Arts presentation of The Arts Forum at The New York Times on Cultural Diplomacy: Engaging a Changing World. Panelists included Maura M. Pally, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges at the U.S. State Department’s Educational and Cultural...
Arts or/are Entertainment?

Arts or/are Entertainment?

In the back of my mind I recall Philippe de Montebello’s impassioned speech some years ago on “The Changing Landscape of Museums.” In it he said, “ . . . it is by clearly differentiating ourselves [museums] from all manner of entertainment that we maintain our integrity, that we remain...
Carnegie Hall: presenter or educator?

Carnegie Hall: presenter or educator?

I read about Carnegie Hall’s expansion of its in-person and online educational programs and the physical spaces needed to provide them and immediately thought: Is Carnegie Hall still a performing arts center with an education arm (Weill Music Institute) or is it becoming even more of an educational institution with...
Name changes: the real process

Name changes: the real process

Recently I attended an introductory meeting for the combination of two arts organizations (more on that trend later) and as part of it they introduced the combined organization’s new name. I was reminded what a difficult branding task naming is. It’s rare that entirely new names are launched in the...
The Guggenheim – Leveraging their brand

The Guggenheim – Leveraging their brand

Back in January, “Helsinki announced that it has commissioned the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to undertake a feasibility study to examine the possibility of building a new Guggenheim Museum in Finland.” While around for some time, museum branding is still in its infancy, but the Guggenheim is at the forefront....
What's the most important determinant in deciding to attend a cultural arts event?

What’s the most important determinant in deciding to attend a cultural arts event?

Mazes, however convoluted, always have a definitive conclusion. With polls, I’m not so sure. This is a little poll I started on LinkedIn. Just curious, we’ll see if this audience’s responses reflect results from the client studies I’ve helped set up. Vote! http://polls.linkedin.com/vote/123166/guxmg
It takes a long time to become young *

It takes a long time to become young *

A while back I was leaving the office, waiting for the elevator. A woman in a hurry was also waiting. As we entered the elevator, she said she was running late and asked if she’d have time to make it to Broadway for a 7pm curtain. It was 6:30 and...
Latest entries
Brand Inspiration from Image and Legacy

Brand Inspiration from Image and Legacy

Arts Branding has had the pleasure of working with the Aspen Music Festival and School for over a year now culminating in the launch of the AMFS’s new brand strategy and visual identity at the start of their latest season on July 1. We engaged London-based, international design director, Jessica Philpott to create the visual...
Redux: Make Your Brand Messages Come Alive

Redux: Make Your Brand Messages Come Alive

This quote has been the bane of my writing existence and the monkey on my back since high school. It and the time available are almost always at odds. But, it’s something we should all aspire to especially now as digital marketing is so prevalent. Some of you asked me to follow up on my...