Tag Archives: Art

Museums: Don’t be scared of the re-brand! (Pt. 2)

(You can read Part 1 by clicking here.)

Sometimes Re-branding is Necessary

It is imperative that museums constantly reevaluate the messages they project about themselves to the public, what can be considered branding. Re-branding is a part of revamping or even creating an identity for the institution. Thor writes that re-branding:

“is not simply a marketing initiative. It’s a holistic process that must consider and represent every aspect of any organization. Branding is not just about how you want to be seen. It’s about showing the world what you are and what you believe in…your brand must capture your vision, mission and values, not just a subset” (para. 6).

DeLouise suggests, “Re-branding is always an act of imagination. The question to ask if you want to re-brand is “will this propel our mission?” (para. 5). Also called brand repositioning, this process can be difficult and time-intensive. Notwithstanding the financial burden, a museum may not have the resources necessary to change the public’s mind about who they are and what they offer. If an institution is going to re-brand, this not only means a overhaul of its current messaging, logo, graphic standards, and communications processes, but also requires the organization to strategically determine how they are going to persuade visitors and non-visitors to think about their museum in a different way, away from the frame of previous experiences and impressions.

VanAuken (Branding Strategy Insider) offers the following conditions under which an organization might re-brand:

  • “Your brand has a bad, confusing or nonexistent image…
  • Your organization is significantly altering its strategic direction…
  • Your organization has acquired a very powerful proprietary advantage that must be worked into the brand positioning.
  • You are broadening your brand to appeal to additional consumers or consumer need segments for whom the current brand positioning won’t work.”

VanAuken operates from a commercial standpoint, but his ideas resonate with museums, which also struggle to establish a reputation due to a bad image. The catalyst for change may be that the organization wishes to alter their focus from being an institution known for putting on blockbuster exhibitions to one that showcases more regional art and artists. Many non-profits want to reach out to a younger demographic like Generation Y, individuals born between 1977 and 1998. Appealing to a new segment of the population may require a museum to change its brand so that it is more easily communicated across electronic media platforms like a Facebook fan page, an e-newsletter, or a blog.

How does a museum ensure that its new brand will thrive? As with any investment, monetary or otherwise, the return-on-investment is not always guaranteed, but there are ways an organization can strategize for brand success. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath (of “Made to Stick” notoriety) use the term “stick” to describe ideas that are “understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact—they change your audience’s opinions or behavior” (p. 8). In the twenty-first century, institutions should rely on an integration of traditional and guerilla marketing techniques to communicate a new identity to the public.

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Allowing myself to be inspired by that which I am most devoted to.


I’m usually not given to waxing poetically about the emotional connection I have with the arts; I tend to be much more introspective about those sentiments and like to focus objectively on the nitty-gritty details and facts, which I conveniently attribute it to my ESTJ-sensibilities (Thank you, Myers-Briggs).

There are occasions, though, when I break my own rules, and right now is one of them.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been exposed to the poetry of Chinese scholar Aku Wuwu, along with an intensely emotional reading by the poet himself; I have enjoyed the bawdy tunes of a Ukelele Lunch Group while I studied at school on Friday afternoon; I delighted in the comic book art exhibit at my campus’s art museum; I participated in a procession as part of a Day of the Dead celebration organized by a local peace organization; I engaged in lively discussion about art education policy research over drinks and fondue at a darling local restaurant in a restored historic house; I even created multimedia art by designing a video for the first time in iMovie. On top of it all, I got to attend a presentation by an Americans for the Arts staff person, participate in an exciting Creative Conversation organized by my department’s very own student group, ELAN; and volunteer at two international music events where I listened to musicians play Serbian and Scottish bagpipes, Native American pow-wow drums, and an instrument from Zimbabwe, which I’m sure is rare to find all together in one room.

Art and culture–I study and explore these sectors, these concepts on a theoretical level and on a very practical level on a daily basis. I am immersed in a passion for research, for writing, for deconstructing, and working for the arts and for museums. The experiences of the past few weeks offered me a perfect reminder, a thrilling little nudge that I need to occasionally abandon my rational side and embrace the emotional, the tugging-on-the-heart-strings moments in life when I see a painting I can’t tear my eyes away from or am transformed by the reading of a poem in a language I don’t understand. Because these things are what propelled me to pursue a career, an education in the arts in the first place. These moments are what have shaped the person I am today and why I am where I am right now. What moments have you experienced lately that have influenced and transformed you in such a way?

(Photo credits: Sarah Brothers…fellow AAD’er)

Museums Visitors Priced Out of Great Art

New Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art may be impressive, but at $88 for a family of four, impossibly priced for the wealthy or the tourists. Art critic Tyler Green’s op-ed piece in the The Philadelphia Inquirer comments:

Philadelphia Museum of Art’s charge is part of an unfortunate trend that has museums seeing themselves as competing with for-profit entertainment businesses such as the local cineplex or professional baseball team. This is wrongheaded. The museum is a nonprofit that, according to its mission statement, exists to share its art, scholarship, and exhibitions with “an increasingly diverse audience as a source of delight, illumination, and lifelong learning.”

(By the way, he’ll be covering the show in a couple weeks on his blog, Modern Art Notes.)