An Artist Collaboration Could Make Your Brand More Compelling
There’s been an explosion of ‘Brand x Artist’ collaborations over the past decade or so. From limited editions sneakers to cookware; brands are working with creatives to co-create products and experiences that are more compelling for consumers.
These types of partnerships have enormous value to both brand and artist. For the brand they can help differentiate products, reach new audiences, drive talkability and add significant brand equity. For the artist the collaboration presents an exciting new canvas for their visions and a platform from which their work can gain exposure.
Johanna Basford is an ‘Ink Evangelist’ every budding illustrator should take note of. Her ballsy approach to new business saw her send inky illustrated cups to Starbucks that won her the commission and her innovative collaboration with Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows how an artist can bring a brand to life in new ways. Her work for the Fringe Festival involved crowdsourcing ideas from over 600 people live on twitter to help illustrate the cover the of the 2010 program. Johanna is a great example of a creative using brand collaboration to grow as an artist but more importantly, to grow as a business.
Music is a sector where collaborations naturally sit but there was an album that came out back in 2006 which I remember absolutely blowing my mind. ‘Beck – The Information’ was a creative inspiration not only for genre-spanning music, but for the unique album artwork; or should I say lack thereof. The cover consisted of the artist’s name above plain graph paper. When you opened the album you were presented with sheets of adhesive stickers. Each sticker was individually designed by a well-known visual artist, but the transferable format gave each Beck fan the opportunity to participate in the creative process by designing his or her own one of a kind CD cover. This was brand personalisation in its very infancy.
My favourite ‘Brand x Artist’ collaboration of late, isn’t a partnership in the traditional sense. However, this recent promotion by Beck’s is definitely worth a mention. The creative concept which led the campaign was based on insight that audiences liked to scratch the aluminium label off when drinking on a night out. So, Beck’s created a bottle was almost entirely covered in label. Beck’s’ consumers were then invited to become the collaborating artist and share their creations through the promoted hashtag on Instagram. This helped drive a huge amount of engagement and talkability for the brand.
Occasionally, you’ll find brands pairing up with artists for a good cause. There’s no better example of this than the work Kiehl’s does during the Christmas period. Each year the American skincare brand partners with an artist to help reimagine some of their packaging. In 2014 the brand collaborated with one of my favourite creative duo’s, Karl & Craig. The kaleidoscopic Christmas vision they created was rolled out across Kiehl’s’ customers favourite products and boxsets creating unique beauty products perfect for christmas gifting. All the proceeds, in the spirit of Christmas, of course went to charity.
In the fashion world, artist collaborations are almost at saturation point. For these partnerships to be truly effective they must blend craftsmanship and authenticity at the highest level.
Coach’s recent creative collaboration is a prime example of this. The exchange between Stuart Vevers and Gary Baseman resulted in a collection that let the artist’s playful yet sinister characters stand out, whilst effortlessly complimenting Coach’s classic style. Throughout the process Vevers supported Baseman and ensured his creatures were authentic and uncensored. Together they created a secret fantasy world that everyone in the fashion world respected and wanted to be part of.
In each of these ‘Brand x Artist’ partnerships both parties have maintained a collaborative mindset. Blending the qualities of the brand with the unique aesthetic of the artists style or technical approach. As any artist knows, it is vital to stay true to your artistic values. And this is something brands must respect if they have any chance of creating something which has cultural relevance needed to enrich consumers world.