Brands need to think like artists

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

It’s amazing how content finds you, isn’t it?

Brands feel the need to impress. They do this by trying to create something grand that people will like. If it clicks, if it works, they lather, rinse, and repeat. There’s a reason consumers have so much fatigue when it comes to brands and their marketing initiatives (and how quickly it sets in). Keeping attention is hard (very, very hard) work. Most brands don’t have the intestinal fortitude to see it through. Most brands have senior leadership that shifts and changes so much, that the very DNA of what the brands stand for can never, truly, be maintained and nurtured over time.

Watch this:

There was one major lesson for brands here… did you catch it?

Let me help you along: “If you address yourself to an audience, you accept at the outset the basic premises that unite the audience. You put on the audience, repeating cliches familiar to it. But artists don’t address themselves to audiences, they create audiences. The artist talks to himself out loud. If what he has to say is significant, others hear and are affected.”

Does your brand “talk to itself out loud”?

I’m starting to like the analogy of “the work that we do as our art” more and more with each passing day. Eerily enough, when I blog about the more random musings (be they personal or more related to my interests outside of marketing), these seem to be the types of blog posts that get the most attention, amplification, and shares. If I were a brand manager of Six Pixels of Separation and I had to show to my c-suite what was “working” when it came to my content, my guess is that this same c-suite would tell me to “shut it down,” because the most talked about stuff is the content that is most unrelated to the raison d’etre of the blog in the first place.

We’re missing the point.

The bigger message here is that brands seem to live and die by the numbers, and this forces them to create messages for an audience, rather than creating something of significance that will find its way to the people who matter most. It’s not a slight shift in thinking, this is a true paradigm shift.

How often do you find yourself asking, “what is it that my audience wants?” instead of saying “let’s create this because it’s who we truly are.”?

What’s your take?

Hat-tip to Bob Lefsetz for pointing this video out.


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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  1. Kris Garnjost

    This starts a set of interesting questions. What are the goals of your marketing materials? When does it become creative and not just productive? Should I be an artist instead of a marketeer? Can I pay the rent? Can I do both? I have no clear answers. Can recommend a another short video from John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing) — Rethinking Commitment: John Jantsch at TEDxKC

  2. Celeste

    I agree. When i post about the product, the response is”ok”, but should I post something like a motivational quote by Nelson Mandela on the same page, it get’s so much more reaction. I think consumer’s are tired of being “sold” to and just want to connect and they can sense when you trying too hard.

  3. Lisa Baldock

    Creating something for the sake of creating works only in art and basic scientific research, not business.

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