Author: Jörg Reckhenrich | | Category:

CEIBS Study Tour, Brand Building

What can we learn from art for brand building? Since centuries artists are brand builders! This provocative statement was the leading motive for the CEIBS study tour on brand building, discussed with thirty-eight students, on that day. During the introduction lecture I talked about the British artist Damien Hirst. Known as the “bad boy of contemporary art” Hirst built his artistic work upon provocation. Rotten cow heads and sharks in glass tanks are standing out and trigger our boundaries and what we perceive as art. Nevertheless, if we think about Damien Hirst, immediately shocking and most provocative artworks come to our mind. Thus, one of the pillars of brand building is in place: emotional projection.

A brand status is reached as soon as a customer assigns a clear, distinctive image to a product or service

These projections transfer the brand values. Of course, Damien Hirst decided to play the game differently. Finally, we spoke about additional pillars of brand building, like, to define a clear customer segment or developing the appropriate distribution channel. With his latest coup, the show “Treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable”, presented in cooperation with one of the most important collectors, François Pinault in Venice, Hirst made clear how strong his positon in the market still is. We discussed in the class Damien Hirst move as a matter of re-branding, turning an art show into a mega, Hollywood like, event.

Re-branding was also the leading topic, when we visited the Swiss National Museum, in the centre of Zürich. We prepared the program in close collaboration with the museum. The leading questions for the visit at the museum were: how can the Swiss National Museum, which core brand value is the history and tradition of the country, rethink its brand position? And, how can the Swiss brand story be told differently and open up for new visitor segments? During the panel talk with Peter Krebs, we learned that it all started with an internal kick off workshop about the new brand position of the museum. The core of the brand, its “brand personality” is unique, excellent and connective. We learned, that the biggest opportunity to renew the brand proposition is to target young visitors, about 20 – 30 years old. Therefore, the museum has developed a series of new formats, like the Lakritz, a performance and lecture event, to reach better this target group. Also, the museum presents state of the art digital presentation technique and offers more temporary exhibitions. For instance, the exhibition Rebel Video, shows the video movement of the 70s and 80s. It targets the younger generation, to show that the video media can be seen as a precondition of digital age and the impact of visual communication, nowadays. Finally, we heart how much the re-branding was, and still is pushed forward by the actual director Andreas Spillmann, who was the formally artistic director of the Schauspielhaus Zürich. We saw, that re-branding seems also to be a matter to take a different perspective and thereby to refresh the brand identity.

Can you see, one student asked, the effect of all these initiatives? Is the museum perceived differently? It takes time, said Peter Krebs. Re-branding is not a matter to switch easily. That was probably the most insightful take away for all of us. Re-branding needs to balance consistency and renewal at the same time, a task which needs a strong stamina an d long breath

Jörg Reckhenrich, member of the faculty CEIBS, Strategic Innovation, Berlin

Jörg Reckhenrich



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