Why Branding is Like Fine Art

by David Heitman

A cardinal principle of effective branding is to capture the audience’s attention long enough to differentiate your product/service/brand/idea.

No differentiation, no traction.

There must be something so unique, so arresting that your idea transcends the other 3,000 marketing messages the typical American encounters each day.

Interestingly, the same arresting uniqueness is what gives art its power to captivate. Just one example is American painter Edward Hopper. He created scenes of rural and urban life in bright colors, and in a generally realistic style. Yet they evoke a distinctively odd melancholy.

One art critic has described Hopper’s work as having a “defamiliarizing” effect on the viewer. You see what appears to be a normal scene, yet it is eerily quiet and devoid of human comfort.

How do you get “eerily quiet” out of a painting? That’s Hopper’s genius. And it’s the reason you could immediately identify one of his paintings from among other artists’ work.

Brands must likewise possess such distinctiveness to stand out from the norms of their competition. If treated with artistry and creativity, a brand can grasp the audience’s imagination just as a great work of art captures a museum patron walking through a gallery.

Thus, beyond long lists of features and benefits, a brand—like a great painting—needs to sweep up the audience in a an imaginative, captivating story. That story can be the tale of a company’s origins; the role it plays in the lives of its customers every day; or the way it is changing the world with passion and new ideas.

If your brand paints a mental picture, rich in color, texture and emotional as well as cognitive associations, it just might capture a second look.

Next Post: