Brands in the arts and
HWR Berlin, School of Economics and Law, Berlin, Germany
Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Purpose –The purposes of this editorial are first, to review the background to, and development of,
the Special Issue call for papers issued in March 2013 on the topic of “Brands in the Arts and Culture
Sector”, second, to introduce the eight papers in the double issue (seven in the Special Issue
plus one paper (by Caldwell)) which was submitted to the journal in the normal course and whose
topic fits well with the arts and cultural branding topic, and third, to set out a framework designed
to facilitate the analysis of individual arts and cultural brands, as well as the directions for future
research in the area.
Design/methodology/approach –The papers in this Special Issue use a variety of approaches-some
qualitative (e.g. ethnography, expert interviews), others quantitative (e.g. laboratory experiment,
surveys); others deal with conceptual issues for individual artists and for the arts market.
Findings –Findings and insights relate to topics such as: how the “in-between spaces”(e.g. art studios)
can be key building blocks of a strong artist’s brand; the importance of western ideas for the Chinese art
market; how pro-activeness, innovation, and risk-taking are the three key drivers for the decision to
integrate blockbusters as a sub-brand in museum brand architecture; the importance of experiential
design for low-involvement museum visitors; the utility of the notion of brand attachment in explaining
volunteering; the potential of visual arts branding for general branding theory; the concept of millennial
cultural consumers and how to reach them; and celebrity casting in London’s West End theatres.
Research limitations/implications –The authors believe that all of the papers have implications
for future thinking, research, scholarship, paedagogy, and practice in the area of arts and cultural
Originality/value –As far as the editors are aware, this is the first ever journal Special Issue on arts
and cultural branding. More specifically, the authors have taken the opportunity to present in this
editorial essay the “C-Framework”of arts and cultural brands, which offers a new way of thinking about
arts and cultural brands −one which can accommodate classical or so-called “mainstream”branding
ideas as well as insights from cultural, media, and consumer studies, and other disciplines. This
framework can be applied to individual arts and cultural brands as well as to the entire field.
Keywords Culture, Brand, Arts
Paper type Viewpoint
Welcome to this double issue of Arts Marketing: An International Journal, which, in
addition to this editorial essay, contains seven papers which were accepted under the
call for papers on “Brands in the Arts and Culture Sector”issued March 2013, as well as
one further paper submitted to the journal outside of the call. We believe that all eight
papers contribute strongly in one way or another to the development of ideas about
arts brands and branding practices. This editorial deals, first, with the background
of the Special Issue, second, with the contents of the eight papers, and, finally,
with some thoughts on the future strategic development of arts and culture sector
Arts Marketing: An International
Vol. 4 No. 1/2, 2014
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Received 4 August 2014
Revised 4 August 2014
Accepted 4 August 2014
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Past: background of the Special Issue
The brand approach is a relatively new and neglected concept in the arts and cultural
marketing domain (e.g. O’Reilly, 2011). Yet strong and world famous museum
brands like MOMA or Tate, opera house brands like the Met or Teatro Alla Scala,
entertainment brands like Cirque du Soleil, or successful artists brand like Hirst, Picasso,
or Lady Gaga underline the relevance of thebrand concept for the arts and cultural sector.
On the one hand, some researchers have analysed the application of brand
management ideas and techniques in the arts and cultural sector, for example
brand orientation (e.g. Baumgarth, 2009), positioning (e.g. Pulh et al., 2008), and brand
management for cultural institutions (e.g. Wallace, 2006) or single artists (e.g. Schroeder,
2005). On the other hand, few papers have dealt with the effects of brands on visitors to
cultural institutions and events as well as on other stakeholders. For example, some papers
present special techniques in order to measure brand images of cultural institutions
(e.g. Caldwell and Coshall, 2002), discuss the concept of brand equity of single cultural
institutions (e.g. Camarero et al., 2010), adapt the brand community concept to the art
sector (e.g. Baumgarth and Kaluza, 2012; Slater and Armstrong, 2010) or analyse the
construction of brand meaning by individual persons and society (e.g. O’Reilly, 2005).
Present: overview of the Special Issue
In the spring 2013, the Call for Papers for the Special Issue was published on the
homepage of Arts Marketing: An International Journal. The intent was to stimulate
research on this topic because the concept of brand management could be a fruitful
approach to bridge the gap between arts and culture on one side and marketing and
management on the other side. Overall, 11 papers were submitted to this Special Issue.
In a first step, we selected nine papers for the review process. Around 20 reviewers
supported our Special Issue with their time and constructive comments. Thank you
very much for your support. On the basis of the reviews, we finally selected seven
papers (acceptance rate: 64 per cent). We would like to thank all authors for their
The seven Special Issue papers we present to you here, together with the eighth
paper (Caldwell), all reflect the variety with regard to the methodological approach as
well to the content of current research into brands in the arts and culture sector. Some
papers use a qualitative approach (e.g., ethnography, expert interviews), some papers
implement a quantitative approach (e.g., laboratory experiment, surveys). Some papers
analyse the potential of brands for cultural institutions like museums and theatres.
Other papers deal with the brand concept for single artists and for the arts market.
The first two papers examine the brand concept in the arts sector. The next three
papers discuss brand management and brand effects for cultural institutions. The last
three papers broaden the core of arts and cultural branding.
In the first paper, Sjöholm and Pasquinelli study the brand management for single
contemporary artists. Their qualitative analysis of the London arts scene identifies the
major role of the artists in comparison to the individual art pieces and the “in-between
spaces”(e.g. art studio) as key building blocks of a strong artist’s brand.
The second paper, by Preece, examines in a qualitative study the booming arts
market in China, in particular Cynical Realist and Political Pop art. The findings point
to the important influence of the world arts market, which is mainly characterized
by western-oriented values and ideology, on the Chinese arts scene. The macro-
marketing perspective of his paper highlights the ideological construction of the
Brands in the
arts and culture
market. In the current situation, the success of Chinese arts depends on the link to the
western liberal political vision.
The contribution by Rentschler, Bridson, and Evans applies classical branding
approaches (brand architecture, sub-brands) to the museum sector and analyses the
special case of blockbuster exhibitions. Their qualitative study identifies three drivers
for the decision to integrate blockbusters as a sub-brand in the brand architecture
of the museum: pro-activeness, innovation, and risk-taking. Furthermore, the paper
derives four characteristics of blockbuster sub-brands: celebrity, spectacle, inclusivity,
The paper by Ober-Heilig, Bekmeier-Feuerhahn, and Sikkenga examines the concept
of brand experience in the museum sector via a survey and an experiment. The survey
underpins the high relevance of experiential motives for high-involvement as well as
for low-involvement visitors, and shows how low-involvement visitors evaluate
the fulfilment of those motives lower in comparison to high-involvement visitors.
The laboratory experiment shows that an experiential design of the museum has
a strong and positive impact on low-involvement visitors, but no strong effect on
The contribution by Baumgarth, compares theoretically and empirically the
classical brand constructs of brand attitude and brand attachment as antecedents of
consumer behaviour in the cultural sector. The main finding of the associated visitor
survey is that brand attachment explains intensive behaviour such as volunteering.
Next, Rodner and Kerrigan analyse the potential of visual arts branding for general
branding theory. Whereas, in the past, the transfer of branding concepts from the
commercial world to the arts world has often been highlighted, this paper discusses
the potential of the arts world for branding. This perspective is thought-provoking and
powerful, because the world of commercial brands will change from a closed to an open
system. Hence, concepts like creativity and symbolic capital from the arts world
are interesting concepts for classical branding theory.
The last paper of this Special Issue by Halliday and Astafyeva conceptualises
a potential key consumer –millennial cultural consumers –and offers insights into
brand communities as possible means to attract and reach them. The authors also
provide four promising research propositions for further work by academics and/or
The eighth paper in this double issue, which was submitted outside of the Special
Issue call for papers, is by Caldwell. Its focus is on “star quality”, and deals with
celebrity casting in London’s West End theatres, thus fitting in very well indeed with
the theme of the Special Issue. Caldwell’s mixed methods study, combining interviews
with theatre professionals and an audience survey, finds that theatre audiences
are more likely to be drawn to celebrities who actually have theatrical expertise.
Future: routes for further research and practice
Our own research on this topic as well as the papers of this Special Issue underpin
the high relevance and the thought-stimulating drive of the relationship between the
brand concept and the arts and cultural sector. Therefore, we expect and call for more
research on this topic. The following thoughts could guide further research projects.
Both the arts and branding can usefully be read as different systems of signification,
ways of generating meanings, or ways of seeing discourses and practices in the arts
and cultural sectors. Arts and cultural branding, arguably, works best if it is not limited
to commercial considerations, and if the meanings it speaks about remain open to
political, social, and cultural dimensions. In other words, if we proceed on the basis that
brands are not always already only about money and commerce, we are more likely to
generate useful insights.
Art and branding practices and theories are continually developing. Within the
visual and performing arts, in particular, practitioners are claiming the status of “art”
for an increasingly wide range of signs and behaviours, including, for example, graffiti
or body modification. A branding scholar or practitioner does well, therefore, to adopt a
flexible view of what constitutes a brand. Branding discourse, on the other hand, is also
developing, based on a strategy of linguistic innovation or colonisation worked up by
consultants, advertisers, public relations agencies as well as academics conducting
empirical and conceptual work.
The future of arts and cultural branding is closely linked with developments in
marketing and branding theory generally, particularly arts, heritage, and nonprofit
marketing theories-all of which disciplines and sub-disciplines are thriving (see, e.g.
O’Reilly and Kerrigan, 2010, 2013; O’Reilly et al., 2014) as well as ongoing changes
in the contestation and acceptance of what qualifies as “art”in a range of cultural
sectors from dance through poetry and theatre to music and film.
Arts and cultural branding is complex for a number of reasons. First, the arts
have a tendency to bring different sensory modes more clearly into play in the
production-consumption circuit. Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting become,
depending on the art-form in question, very salient for analysts. Hence, concepts like
multisensory or experiential branding (e.g. Lindstrom, 2005; Hultén, 2011; Brakus et al.,
2009) could be interesting topics for future thinking. Second, the nature of the brand
referent needs careful attention. After all, an arts brand can be an artefact, an artist or
group of artists, an organisation, an event, a venue, a performance, a song, or an
exhibition. Stars and charismatic performers and leaders are a distinctive feature of the
arts and cultural landscape, which is to a great extent driven by people and “star”brands
(e.g. Jones, 2011; Frank and Cook, 1995; Wallace et al., 1993). Third, art brand thinkers and
practitioners need to be knowledgeable about the artistic traditions and innovations in
their areas or genres of work. Fourth, the cultural codes which shape the production
of, consumption of, and engagement with, arts need to be understood clearly. Fifth,
technologies of production and consumption are continually changing and require
factoring into any theory of arts branding. Sixth, it would be regrettable if arts brand
management were conceived as being the prerogative of a managerial figure only, if it
were left to the “suits”. Artists, performers, specialists in production, as well as curators,
art historians, gallery owners, and so on, are all playing a role in arts and cultural brand
development, so we need to conceive somehow of arts brands being in shared ownership,
as a kind of artistic commons (morally, if not financially), or at least something in which
many stakeholders have different stakes or interests (see O’Reilly and Kerrigan, 2013).
Brands in the arts and cultural sector are often based on networks and their contributions
to the brand. Seventh, as Rodner and Thomson (2013) have shown, arts brands can be
seen as developing within complex value generation systems or chains which require
careful analysis. Finally, at the macro level, art can be a contextual influence on a wide
range of political, social, and cultural trends as well as being itself embedded within them.
Arts and cultural branding theory and practice will proceed further if it
remains open to theoretical and methodological pluralism, as well as a strong sense of
multi- and interdisciplinarity. Insights from sociology, psychology, anthropology,
politics, economics, and cultural and media studies should all be welcome. A broad
Brands in the
arts and culture
range of methods, including experiments, ethnography, questionnaire surveys, qualitative
interviews, netnographies, oral histories, case studies, videography, discourse studies and
so on, can help to generate a range of useful data and insights. A mixed-method approach
(e.g. Teddlie and Tashakkori, 2009; Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007) could be a powerful
framework to gain a better and deeper understanding of the complex phenomenon
of arts and cultural branding. In addition to that, arts and cultural branding is a very
young research stream with only a small collection of empirical-based findings. Hence,
future research should try to identify robust and generalisable results via replications
and meta-analysis (e.g. Hunter and Schmidt, 2014; Evanchitzky et al., 2007). Views from
positivist, interpretivist, critical, mainstream, and independent “camps”can all be helpful
for arts branding scholarship, pedagogy, and practice.
Building upon and extending the useful summary by Heding et al. (2009) we suggest
that there are 13 main approaches to arts and cultural branding which can help to
inform both the academic research agenda as well as branding practice. We have
contrived, in line with a long-standing tradition in marketing, and in order to facilitate
their recall, to have them all begin with the same letter, in this case the letter “C”,
and to compile them in a framework which we call the “C-Framework of Arts and
Cultural Branding”. The usual caveat about dividing seamless reality into potentially
overlapping categories applies (Table I).
Context The historical situatedness in time and space of the relevant brand, politically,
socially, culturally, materially, and economically (see Preece, 2014). This
category also takes account of the fact that art that is produced in one cultural
context may be consumed in many different international contexts, where
varying levels of engagement with the arts will apply
Cultural offering The nature of the brand offering, the “product”in a wide sense. For example,
is it a project, a performance, a person, a programme, a place, a legal right, or
many of these things in a specific configuration?
Code The particular artistic codes which inform the production and consumption of
the art-form concerned, e.g. jazz, ballet, punk, sculpture, film. This can include
issues relating to the artists’calling and craft, and their related education
Capital The economic or business aspects of the brand. Where does the investment
come from? How is the capital raised? What are the profits and losses, and
how are they arranged amongst the stakeholders? What are the pricing
arrangements? Important here are the notions of art brand value, and the
related value chain, system or value-generating apparatus which applies in
each specific case. However, this grouping of ideas also includes, by analogy,
the political, social, cultural, and sub-cultural capital (value) which can be
acquired around the regulation, production, intermediation, and consumption
of the art brand in question
Configuration The relationship in which the brand stands to other brands within the same
broad creative and cultural offering. For example, in a film or blockbuster
exhibition (see Rentschler et al., 2014), the brand’s relationship to other brands
in the configuration needs to be teased out. Within this area, issues to do with
brand portfolios, families, categories, architectures, and extensions can
usefully be considered, as well as the important topic of cultural (brand)
The C-framework of
arts and cultural
We suggest that a holistic understanding of any arts and cultural brand (whether
theoretical, managerial, or consultancy-based) requires an analysis of all of these 13
aspects, and that this framework offers a strategic view of the wide range of
development vectors along which arts and cultural branding research can proceed
in the future, ideally on the basis of theoretical and methodological pluralism and
rigorous scientific research. We call for international and intercultural research
projects, comparisons between branding approaches in different countries, and studies
Content The ideas “contained within”the brand and how it is positioned both within
the marketplace as well as in wider society. The word “content”is not meant
literally, as if in the sense of a bucket or container; brand managers
in the arts need to be sensitive to subtler theories about message production,
reader response, interpretation, and sense making by all brand
stakeholders. “Content”must be related to brand identity (on the producer
side) and brand image (on the consumer side) –see elsewhere in this
Contact This area relates to brand touchpoints, i.e. occasions, spaces and places where
the art brand comes into material, sensory, or imaginal contact with the
producer or consumer. It can also cover issues such as artistic engagement,
and deal with mainstream branding issues such as brand relationship and
Character This area includes issues to do with what is traditionally known as brand
identity, reputation, or brand personality, as well as artistic mission, vision,
philosophy, and values. Like all of these areas, it can relate to any brand
referent, be it an organisation, a celebrity, an event, an artist, or even a
Company The supply-side organisation of individuals who organise the production
of the art brand. This could include a charitable trust, an artistic collective, or
the “crew”, and can include both marketers and business executives as well as
artists and intermediaries. It also includes internal or organisational branding
issues to do with production or organisational cultures
Consumption This area includes generic ideas from consumer studies such as decision
making, rituals, involvement, identity, needs, motivation, perception, attitude,
preference, behaviour, and so on, but also notions from other theoretical
frames such as fandom, audiences, and consumption cultures, as well as
branding concepts such as brand image, consumer-based brand equity, and
Community Collective aspects of consumption, primarily, but also attempts to
frame the production-consumption nexus as, e.g., a “brand community”or
Collaboration Arts and cultural sector is not only the “receiver”of general branding theory.
The collaboration of arts and commercial brands on a metaphorical and on a
concrete level could broaden the research field. For example, this area can
include, at the level of concrete practice, issues such as sponsorship, celebrity
endorsement, product placement co-branding, and brand alliances –in fact
any project or arrangement which involves collaboration between a
commercial and an arts/cultural brand
Creativity Arts and cultural offerings are connected with creativity, surprises,
antagonism, and destruction of standards. In contrast, “mainstream”
commercial brands are characterized more by consistency, continuity,
reliability, and trust. Hence, the research topic arts and cultural branding
needs to consider the conflict between the “rules”of branding and their
application to the arts Table I
Brands in the
arts and culture
of the effects of arts and cultural brands on different consumer groups. We believe
that whilst the arts and cultural sector can learn from commercial brand management,
the commercial sector can also learn from the arts and cultural world, and that
collaboration between arts and commercial brands (e.g. Baumgarth et al., 2014;
Hagtvedt and Patrick, 2008; Kottasz et al., 2008; Heusser and Imesch, 2006) can be
fruitful and worthy of investigation. Finally, there is rich scope for the further use of
arts and cultural ideas as metaphors for organisational and business management
(e.g. Austin and Devin, 2003; Taylor and Ladkin, 2009; Dennis and Macaulay,
This issue contains seven papers on arts and culture sector branding specific to the
Special Issue call for papers, plus one further paper (Caldwell). We hope very much
that readers will find the entire double issue to be a useful and enjoyable collection of
insights. Finally, we would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation once
again to our hard-working reviewers, to Gretchen Larsen, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief,
for her constructive and effective help with the editorial and production issues, as well
as to the publishing team at Emerald for their ongoing support for scholarly research
in the important area of art/market relationships.
Austin, B., Devin, L. (2003), Artful Making, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Baumgarth, C. (2009), “Brand orientation of museums: model and empirical results”,International
Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 30-85.
Baumgarth, C. and Kaluza, M. (2012), “‘The friends’of institutions s brand communities –
conceptual model and case study”,Proceedings 11th International Colloquium on Nonprofit,
Social, Arts and Heritage Marketing,London, 19 September.
Baumgarth, C., Lohrisch, N. and Kastner, L. (2014), “Arts meet luxury brands”, in Berghaus, B.,
Mueller-Stewens, G. and Reinecke, S. (Eds), Management of Luxury, Kogan, London,
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Caldwell, N. and Coshall, J. (2002), “Measuring brand associations for museums and galleries
using repertory grid analysis”,Management Decision, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 383-392.
Camarero, C., Garrido, M.J. and Vincente, E. (2010), “Components of art exhibition brand equity
for internal and external visitors”,Tourism Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 495-504.
Creswell, J.W. and Plano Clark, V.L. (2007), Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research,
Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Dennis, N. and Macaulay, M. (2003), “Jazz and marketing planning”,Journal of Strategic
Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 177-186.
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Evanchitzky, H., Baumgarth, C., Hubbard, R. and Armstrong, J.S. (2007), “Replication research’s
disturbing trend”,Journal of Business Research, Vol. 60 No. 4, pp. 411-415.
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Hagtvedt, H. and Patrick, V.M. (2008), “Art infusion”,Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 45
No. 3, pp. 379-389.
Heding, T., Knudtzen, C.F. and Bjerre, M. (2009), Brand Management, Routledge, Abingdon.
Heusser, H.-J. and Imesch, K. (Eds) (2006), Art & Branding, Swiss Institute for Art Research, Zurich.
Hultén, B. (2011), “Sensory marketing”,European Business Review, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 246-273.
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Jones, S. (2011), Brand Like a Rock Star, Greenleaf, Austin, TX.
Kottasz, R., Bennett, R., Savani, S. and Ali-Choudhury, R. (2008), “The role of corporate art in the
management of corporate identity”,Corporate Communications: An International Journal,
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Lindstrom, M. (2005), Brand Sense, Kogan Page, London.
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Preece, C. (2014), “The branding of contemporary Chinese art and its politics: unpacking the
power discourses of the art market”,Arts Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 4
Nos 1/2, pp. xx-xx.
Pulh, M., Marteaux, S. and Mencarelli, R. (2008), “Positioning strategies of cultural institutions”,
International Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 4-20.
Rentschler, R., Bridson, K. and Evans, J. (2014), “Exhibitions as sub-brands: an exploratory
study”,Arts Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 4 Nos /1/2, pp. xx-xx.
Rodner, V.L. and Thomson, E. (2013), “The art machine”,Arts Marketing: An International
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Dr Daragh O’Reilly can be contacted at: D.T.Oreilly@sheffield.ac.uk
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Brands in the
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