The Art of Marketing – When Contemporary Artists Become Brands!
Contemporary artists (painters, sculptors, movie directors, actors, musicians etc.), occupy a specific space in the minds of people; they in fact represent certain values, attitudes and lifestyle.
MADONNA REPOSITIONING DURING THE YEARS
In one of my classes, I was pleasantly surprised from one of students’ statements when I asked him which one was his brand idol, the brand that he likes the most and his answer was the following:
“My brand Idol is Madonna, I don’t particularly like her as a singer or actress, but from a marketing perspective. I think she was always able to reposition herself according to the evolution of society, and as a direct result she was able to remain always trendy and popular which I assume was her business goal all along”.
This perceptive student simply and directly pointed out the importance of self-branding in the contemporary art contest and linked that branding to their goal. Artists and their art/products become brands, and as such, they have a target and a clear positioning strategy. And just like other marketers, they have business goals and objectives.
Companies need to understand consumers as human beings and deep dive into their hopes, fears and tensions, in order to release these with the right message at the right time and place. Madonna was doing exactly that every step of the way as she continually challenged social perceptions and morals.
Now, the question is, how does this process change when instead of products we are branding people (artists in this case) or movies? How can we apply consumer marketing principles to the personal branding which will help to increase their appeal?
TARGETING & THE ROLE OF ART
To begin with, we need to make a clear distinction between:
Artists whose objective is to make money creating their art according to what is the demand in the market
Artists that just want to freely express their emotions, feelings and vision, regardless of who would like their works
In the first case, commercial artists, will utilize concept testing, focus groups and other market researches to help them create something that is tailor made for a specific target segment (most often guided from his producer whose job it is to look at the created art from a business perspective).
For the second kind of artists, the story is different. They do not have a specific target in mind, or guide lines; they just create freely what they want. These more ‘sincere’ artists do not want to compromise their intentions based on what the people like, they believe that it will be their art and talent which will be able to attract consumers…or not.
While in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) for example, the positioning is established and directed by the brand managers, how does it work in case of Artists, since the product is a non-tangible experience?
How are they able to position themselves and own a unique emotional experience for the consumers that will build and sustain their brand?
For purely commercial artists such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, the positioning of the artist brand is based on identifying the gap in the marketplace. Although possessing varying degrees of power, these artist brands are created and managed by branding and PR teams. Lady Gaga’s engagement with her fan-base is the result of active market gap analysis.
For other artists, who are not the products of branding and PR teams, building the positioning of their brand is initiated by the artists themselves but in the end is decided by the consumers.
Regardless, once they own a space in the mind of the consumers, such artists will own the same space both because they are artistically occupying their ideal positions and because the consumers will react negatively if they shift the space their brand occupies in consumers’ minds too often. It is unlikely that we would readily accept a romantic comedy directed by Tarantino, or a blockbuster action movie from Woody Allen.
QUENTIN TARANTINO CASE STUDY
How did the movie director target the Quentin Tarantino brand?
Regardless of whether he consciously or unconsciously communicates to movie consumers, at the very basic level, he communicated that he is very talented, which is the key to entry to the market, together with inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit.
On the second level, Tarantino differentiates himself in terms of his aesthetic, textual, and cinematographic choices which are seen in the vintage cruelty that is the trademark of his movies.
The references he makes to cult movies, books, music in his films is one of aspect of differentiation for Tarantino. Kill Bill 1&2 were set as homage to Bruce Lee. Jackie Brown referenced 1970s cult series Foxy Brown. Speaking in marketing terms, these artistic choices, along with his blatant use of violence in a distinctively aesthetic manner, make up the differentiation points in Tarantino’s work.
These contribute to the benefit audiences get from consuming Tarantino movies: the crucial emotional experience of pleasant violence – a distinct and tension point directed need state he has uncovered and leveraged in his films.
In conclusion, good marketing can even help those artists who do not want to compromise with the popular expectations and own a unique space in the mind of the customers (brand positioning) that is directly linked with their unique and naturally driven talent. It still marketing and in the end, one way or another, it is consumer driven by intent or default.