Marketing, branding and art: what can businesses learn from those who sell scribbles for squillions?

By June 8, 2017General

If you’re involved in marketing in some way, you must have come across a cliché or two in your time. What about this one:

Don’t try to create a demand for something.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

When we want to sell a product or service, we must make sure that we’re offering something that our target audience actually wants.

Otherwise we’re taking a huge risk.

If we’re gambling in this way, then we may be trying to sell a solution to a problem that might not exist.

We’d be relying on a hunch.

And trying to sell something that a market doesn’t necessarily need is a recipe for disaster, right?

Yet art marketing does exactly that.

The common consensus is that every business needs access to data so that it can validate ideas and minimize exposure.

Yet it’s funny.

Artists and people who market art don’t seem to subscribe to this school of thought.

Instead, artists work according to their own agenda.

As business owners, there’s a lesson here:

We can learn from the way art is marketed.

Check out at the image at the top of this blog post.

It’s of a painting that sold for $69.6million.

It’s an untitled piece, created in 1970, by an artist called Cy Twombly.

Here are 6 lessons that we can all learn from art marketing.

Lesson 1: Establish a unique style, image and voice

Banksy is the most famous “graffiti artist” in existence – a British political activist, film director, and creative mind who is known for combining a distinctive stenciling technique with dark humour.

Starting out as little more than a vandal, Banksy’s work has evolved from the Bristol underground scene over the years, turning him into a beacon for the concerns of a generation.

It’s no wonder he landed a spot as one of the most influential people in 2010’s TIME magazine, and that his net worth is estimated to be somewhere around $20million.

Banksy is THE perfect example of how a strong personal brand can be powerful.

He demonstrates the value of having your own unique aesthetic – ideal for helping consumers to instantly recognize you – wherever you might appear.

For businesses, building a brand isn’t just about cool logos and colours. It’s about carving out an identity that speaks to your audience in a specific voice.

Above all else, it’s about being memorable.

Lesson 2: Exclusivity Matters

Banksy keeps his work exclusive by creating it on public surfaces – a temporary medium that could be whitewashed over or removed at any time.

That makes every image more valuable, because it’s infused with a sense of danger and exclusivity. Just think, if you spot something he’s created, you might be the last person to see it for real.

In the art world, a combination of scarcity, uniqueness and transience drives the value of images up significantly.

It also helps generate a huge buzz whenever a new piece makes an appearance on the market.

Businesses who want to get involved with a niche market can execute similar strategies by creating a sense of prestige in a product.

Maybe scale down the availability of something to make it feel more exclusive.

Remember, consumers enjoy the special feeling that comes with owning a rare object… and many will happily pay extra for that exclusivity.

Lesson 3: Keep people talking

Accomplished art marketers ensure that some kind of message is embedded in the work they’re promoting.

Messages can anything, from push for social change through to challenging an idea or a concept.

Perhaps the best thing about marketing something with a message is that you’re able to speak directly to your audience.

The more a piece of art speaks to a connoisseur, the more they speak back.

That’s why you often hear people at art shows talking about how much they “get” a certain piece.

Or why you see investors at art galleries voicing their different interpretations of a painting.

In a similar manner, businesses can use the same techniques to increase engagement.

After all, word of mouth marketing is one of the most amazing types of marketing there is.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on