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. A LinkedIn message from Museums and the Web asking me to, “Please stop posting all of your blog entries to the Museums and the Web [LinkedIn] Group. It’s for discussions specific to that topic, and your branding focused pieces are not relevant. Discussions or questions that are on-topic are welcome. Thanks.”
Any one of these events is significant on some level, but happening together within a short span of time leads me to a larger point: cultural arts branding and digital are now intertwined and we all need to accept that. Tada! Not such a big idea for some of you, but a sea change for others. I touched on this in a tactical way in a previous essay, “Branding the Arts of Tomorrow.”
Who knew it’s already been 20 years of digital communications! I have arts clients whose websites still look like first or second generation sites. I have clients who still regularly use faxes. Swinging to the other extreme, I have cultural arts professionals who tweet all day, but not about their arts organizations. Perhaps in these examples it is more about the individuals than anything else. But this digital thing. I think it has legs and is here to stay.
I applaud Capacity Interactive’s wish to “fill a gap” in the field and their attempt to provide value to the arts and digital education. I hope the conference is a smashing success and wish them well in this offering. From the “Boot Camp” title, their view is that cultural arts managers need to quickly immerse themselves in what is flourishing around them.
Then there’s Museums and the Web. What can I say? They imply that branding is irrelevant to digital. To be fair, their concern is that my essays are not directly about digital issues. That said, all of my essays on branding have implications for digital. And all digital issues have branding implications. Since my and their readers are a smart crowd, I expect readers to make that connection and not see it as a great leap.
Therein lies my point: Digital is endemic for branding cultural arts organizations in the 21st century. Colleagues who attended the MuseumNext Conference in Edinburgh, back in May came away with the thought that cultural arts organizations must now create and build their brands through a digital viewpoint or lens. That we can no longer view our brands through a print design and information architecture mindset. That all we do in cultural arts branding will ultimately be understood through the screens of a computer, tablet, smart phone, or next generation device. The tide has turned.