Every organization needs a brand—it’s your core identity—the nucleus of the cell. Everything revolves and functions around it. But there’s more to it than just a design-savvy logo, and as arts marketers, we need to keep this in mind when thinking about branding.
In the National Arts Marketing Project’s most recent e-book, Turn Branding OOPS into Branding WHOOP WHOOPS, we look to the different aspects that make up a brand; focusing on ones that are have been successful with their branding efforts and others, well, that have lacked the “whoop whoop” factor when trying to reach the top.
Although we may think that we have what it takes when it comes to knowing our arts patrons, when it comes to brand management there are some key pitfalls that if overlooked can be harmful or even detrimental in the long run.
So how does one know what is behind that well-designed logo? Or, when undergoing a major re-branding effort or even starting from scratch, how can we ensure that we are taking the right steps to success?
Here are 6 points to make sure your brand doesn’t fall into the OOPS category:
1) Switching Gears. Re-branding can make for a sticky situation. Why? Because when you’re making a major change to something that your long-time fans care about, your consumers are quick to notice (especially in the digital age). Make sure to have a strategy that stays true to not only your brand, but your audience as well.
2) Got “designer’s block” when it comes to changing your logo? Consider your audience’s input when re-creating the new look. Believe it or not, your audience is your biggest asset to your brand and their opinions and loyalty matter. Reaching out to your audience through social networks is a helpful tool. Conducting a poll or a contest to gather opinions is one way to use social networking channels. It’s important to not only listen to your consumers, but embrace their ideas.
3) How far can your brand stretch? Brand extension seems to fall under the same sticky path as takeaway #1, but if executed properly, can lead you down a very successful path. You’ve already got an existing brand, but you want to broaden your market. Stretching your brand a bit further can be really beneficial for the growth of your organization, but only if you know your market. If done poorly, you risk not only the new extended brand, but you can seriously hinder your existing one. Make sure you stay true to your artistic vision and key mission.
4) Consistency is key in your arts organization, and loyal fans don’t always respond well to change. Think about it—why are they loyal in the first place? They like what you’re doing and are riding the wave with you. As soon as that wave crashes, you’re fans may have trouble hopping back on the next one. Whether it’s a subscription or membership program, it’s always good to stay consistent. If you are making a change, be sure to create a smooth transition for your audience. The transition doesn’t always need to be abrupt. Take it slow, and steady.
5) The Golden Rule. You know the rule—treat others the way you want to be treated. Customer Service is crucial for the success of any brand. Not sure where to start? Try putting yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself why you return to your favorite theater or museum. Focusing on details such as politeness at the box office can make an impact in a patron’s decision on whether or not to come back. Not only is great customer service a way to distinguish your organization apart from the rest, but it is key for word-of-mouth marketing. When people are treated nicely, they talk about it. Treat your customers as if each one were your only customer. If you do, the result will be golden.
6) Not only do you need to keep your patrons happy, but your workers need some loving too! Keeping your employees happy is central in reflecting your organization’s identity. If the environment that you work in is negative, bland, and boring, the work will be too. Communication is key in letting your employees know you value them. Show it in different ways– whether it’s by having a weekly “sweet treat”, 1:1 monthly meetings, or simply creating an open concept designed environment, it will make a difference. Be creative with it! Listen to your employees and be sure to provide an inspiring work environment in which the creative process can bloom.
To learn about well-known brands that have made some big failures, and others who have knocked the branding ball out of the park, download Turn Branding OOPS into Branding WHOOP WHOOPS.
And to check out more arts marketing and audience engagement takeaways, check out the National Arts Marketing Project e-book library. The nine free, easy-to-access compilations are a quick and simple way to absorb the necessary tools for making your organization more profitable, inventive, and attractive to contemporary audiences.