The Biz of Arts Branding

I’ve written a lot lately about the arts and how important it is for arts organizations to find, define, and communicate a strong brand identity. For many, especially small and mid-sized organizations, branding persists as an elusive concept, viewed skeptically as “spin,” something that taints artistic integrity. 

Get over it.

Brand development for arts organizations is a strategic imperative. A must-have. Not a nice-to-have.  Branding puts a stake in the ground, conveying a distinctive role, relevance, and identity within a memorable institutional narrative. It asks and answers the all-important “why should I care” question. 

From shuttered museums to canceled performances, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the arts, ranging from lost revenue to lost opportunities for artists and arts organizations across the board.

The last few years have underscored the importance of organizations staying connected to their mission and core values. Creativity and innovation are essential to re-engaging audiences in new ways. As a result, the stories nonprofits tell must necessarily shift as they adapt to new realities.

It’s clear that a strong brand is an essential business asset. Increasingly, artists are starting to see their brands — whether personal or organizational — as an investment that requires a consistent input of time, money, and energy. And yet many lack the resources and knowledge for developing a successful brand strategy on their own.

Leaders of arts organizations must find new models that allow their brands to support their vision, serve their mission, and expand their organization’s perceived value.

As the arts sector begins to open up, I’ve been helping arts organizations take a fresh look at how they are perceived by their members, funders, donors, and constituents. 

As an arts administrator, what are your branding challenges?

That’s the question I’m posing to a variety of arts nonprofits for an upcoming interview series on branding in the arts. I’m interested in learning about your branding experience and am happy to share my assessment with you.

I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me here.