Over the years, our agency has developed a pretty strong foothold in the arts and culture community in the tri-state region.
One of our first big breaks came in 2007 with a contract for a rebranding project and comprehensive marketing and design support for the Mann Center, and we’ve been working with them ever since in a variety of different capacities as the organization and its programming have evolved. Since then, we’ve also had some incredible opportunities to help orchestras, performing arts centers, museums, and many other similar nonprofit organizations.
When the leadership of an organization is committed to improvement and change, there is a big opportunity to stand out above the crowd, despite the challenges that the arts community faces today. There’s no “magic bullet” to rebranding an organization — as each one and each marketplace offers unique challenges largely defined by their dwindling audiences. However, I am often asked, “How did you even know where to begin?” or “What was the secret?” The following are five key considerations that guide our approach.
Be Committed to Understanding Your Audiences
As noted, no project is going to be successful if the leadership is not committed to making changes that will be meaningful to their existing and new audiences. We generally start with a discovery process to review available data and often recommend conducting at least some basic market research to help guide our recommendations.
Start With Programming
The historical, current, and future programming of an organization needs to be well understood to guide the conceptual approach. We look for patterns or changes in programming over time to understand what audiences value, and we try to highlight the unique nature of an organization’s approach to presenting that programming through the experiential attributes.
Be Authentic, but Be Current
Being committed to your audiences and committed to your brand go hand in hand. Your audience will be the first to “know” if your brand is misaligned with the character of your organization. In order to retain existing audiences and attract new ones, it’s critical for both your brand and your programming to be innovative, current, and appealing.
Allow Your Brand to Evolve
Make a big splash through changes, but don’t push the envelope so far that you back yourself into a brand corner or confuse your audiences. Your brand needs to be adaptable and flexible with time as your audiences and programming evolve, yet it should always feel like a natural extension of what people expect from you.
Be Consistent Across Media
In the end, having a consistent look and message in both traditional and digital media is key to convincing your audiences that you’re serious about wanting their attention and innovative in the way you get it. A lot of the brands we’ve inherited have a good foundation in traditional media, but they need help with applying the brand to new media in meaningful ways. This goes back, in part, to allowing the brand to evolve, but it also requires an understanding that even your traditional audiences will continue to adapt to new media, even if it happens slowly over time.