Although not immediately obvious, a healthy relationship between art and business can be a powerful tool in a company’s general brand strategy. Art seems far removed from the business world, but many B2C brands have actually learned to use it for their benefit.
Well, there is a big opportunity for B2B brands to follow suit and hone in on the power of art to strengthen their positioning. Research shows that customers and buyers react positively to humanized B2B brands, and employing art is a quick way to create a personality and communicate your brand’s purpose.
A History of Progressive Collaboration
Businesses have been collaborating with artists as far back as the beginning of the 20th century. Companies traditionally took advantage of an artist’s aesthetic dexterity and brought them in to create advertisements.
In the early 1900’s, for example, Martini & Rossi hired Italian and French poster designer Leonetto Cappiello and Italian artist Giuseppe Riccobaldi to create impactful advertisements that heightened the brand’s elegance and appeal.
Half a century later artists started to contribute more than just their aesthetic expertise. In the 60’s and 70’s, for example, Salvador Dali took part in several TV commercials for brands like Iberia, Nissan, and Alka Seltzer.
In this role, Dali was more of a spokesperson than a creative producer. He provided the brand with legitimacy and expanded the brand’s reach into Dali’s fan base, which at the time was at the level of global superstar.
Nowadays, you can actually see businesses use art as part of their brand strategy in all sorts of industries. Artist Tom Sachs created a piece for Mont Blanc, Romero Britto designed a bottle for Absolut Vodka (a tradition that started with a collaboration with Andy Warhol), and Alexander McQueen even designed an American Express credit card.
The marriage of art and business has become so widespread that you can even find it on the walls of art galleries and museums, like in the summer of 2015 when the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome hosted a Corporate Art exhibit. The one place it’s not very common to see art, though, is the B2B realm.
Art and the B2B Brand
You can find lots of examples of B2C brands that use creative art to enhance their products, but only a few B2B companies have found their own way of using art as part of their brand strategy.
Volvo Trucks, which is one of the largest B2B truck companies in the world, used an artistic approach to create viral content. In 2013, they produced the video “The Epic Split” featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits on two vehicles as they moved in reverse. Although the message was intended for a particular audience, the video racked up about 80 million views.
Since then, Volvo has continued to produce creative content–especially video–as a marketing and brand positioning tool.
The fact is that the world today is not the same as it was in the beginning of the 20th century or even in the 60’s and 70’s. Content marketing is a great area to explore to unleash the potential benefits of a partnership with art, and finding the right collaboration is key.
A brand’s audience is distributed throughout many different channels, media, and platforms. This gives your brand a broad range of possibilities in terms of finding the right way to plug creative art into your marketing strategy.
The Volvo videos, besides being a collaboration with the actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, were also made with a high-level of production quality. In other words, creating artistic content can be just as powerful as working with established artists. In this case, a combination of both went a long way. Volvo’s strategy was two-fold in personalizing the brand and created a connection with audiences through a unique artistic endeavor.
The Importance of Humanizing a Brand
Research continues to find that buyers see B2B brands as people, just like they see B2C brands. In an article published in the journal Social Neuroscience in 2014 (“Are corporations people too? The neural correlates of moral judgments about companies and individuals”), scientists found that that people understand and analyze the actions of corporations and people very similarly.
This means that consumers react positively to a humanized B2B brand that has a personality and a purpose. Art is a powerful strategy to develop a personality because it helps to accessorize an existing image. It makes a statement by taking a risk, and consumers react well because they see the brand as an approachable “person.”
A humanized brand is easier for a buyer or client to relate with, and this translates into loyalty, which in turn aides brand recognition. Choosing the right approach to incorporating art into a B2B brand strategy can make a huge difference in the long run, and worthy project to incorporate into your brand strategy.