March 16, 2017 Anthony Cospito

Art and the Fearless Brand

That “Fearless Girl” sculpture is about more than a charging bull. It’s a call to arms for artists and brands to team up and take a stand.

Meet Kristen Visbal, the artist who sculpted the bronze statue of a girl bravely facing down the icon of high finance.
Secretly installed at 3am on International Women’s Day, within hours the artwork went viral and millions understood what “Fearless Girl” was saying. Above all the news, noise, and Trump — art got through. By noon, petitions were underway to make the installation permanent.

Unlike almost every other form of media, art resonates on a deeper level. It flies under the radar of cynicism and straight into the cerebrum for processing.

Commissioned by State Street, “Fearless Girl” is no doubt a success for the respected financial services brand. Lifts will likely be seen in key measures like brand affinity, loyalty and growth. State Street spoke out, something that scares off most brands — but it shouldn’t.

If a brand knows their core customer and authentically embraces their values — “taking a side” can actually strengthen high value relationships.

When you experience a crisis with someone, you bond. You are closer as a result of that shared stressful experience. Politics in 2017 certainly feels like a crisis. With a polarized electorate and rising concerns over basic human issues like healthcare, the environment, immigration and LGBT rights — brands have a bounty of bonding opportunities.

Stacks of insight reports, customer personas, millennial journey maps and marketing funnels all say the same thing — brands need to be real or be gone. Integrity matters, as do inclusion and creative expression.

Warm and fuzzies aside, real world brands are having trouble just being seen. Ad blockers get in the way, as do ephemeral attention spans. Art as content has an advantage here. It sticks.

As a form of self expression, art goes beyond language and culture serving as a creative shorthand of sorts — spot on for social media.

Consumer brands looking to elevate their content marketing would be well-served to explore working with artists. Retailers for example have an opportunity to leverage their physical space for collaborative installations that drive foot traffic and social media engagement.

Media leaders can give emerging artists life-changing recognition and bring light to critical social issues in the process.

Connecting the worlds of artists and brands is the Brooklyn Art Project Collective. In it’s tenth year, the social network is evolving into a premium membership guild for artists, photographers, street artists, illustrators, filmmakers and sculptors.

CapitalOne teamed with Brooklyn Art Project in New York City installing local street art photography, mixed media and illustrations in three Manhattan branches.

The installation transformed a standard retail bank visit into a warmer, more inviting experience for employees and customers. Exhibiting work from local artists helped welcome new branches into the neighborhood.

Other Brooklyn Art Project brand collaborators have included: West Elm, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Burning Man. Increasingly, bold brands like State Street are speaking out, and seeing success among their base and beyond. Artists like Kristen Visbal are standing up for what they believe in — and seeing a global response to their work.

In a word, it’s time for artists and brands to be brave. In another, fearless.

 

– Anthony Cospito, Anthony is Managing Director of Digital Strategy at Popbox Digital and Co-founder of Brooklyn Art Project.

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