Audience Development and branding creatively

This week has been a whirlwind of thoughts.  Mainly it has been a week of thinking about creativity.  The death of a very creative thinker, Steve Jobs, has again brought this topic to the forefront.

I have been recently thinking about branding.  Branding needs to communicate in a nutshell who and what you are about.  You would think branding needs to be creative, but I am finding that in some cases we are afraid to brand outside of the box due to already established conceptions about certain establishments.

I have been hoping to be invited to speak about this topic since I have been doing research on the brands of symphony orchestras.  After sampling through the brands of over 50 organizations world wide, I find the established norms for branding have won out over creative branding.    Only 9 (maybe 10) orchestras stood out as a different kind of brand.  The rest of the symphony orchestras, if you were to block out the name of the organization and ask which symphony this was, you wouldn’t have the slightest clue.  The logos, the photos, the marketing jargon are all basically the same. Your mainstream audiences will find you easily, but your new audiences may continue to ignore you easily.

In a world where there is so much of so much, wouldn’t you want your brand to be creative?  Wouldn’t you want your brand to stand out?  Yet, most of the organizations and artists will play it safe due to already established norms.  Is this helping or hurting our arts industry?

Sure, the standard established brand will automatically let people know that you are what you are.  It’s been what is expected of you for decades.  If you really want success though and to be buzz worthy, wouldn’t it be better to stand out and have a brand that is inspiring, original, clever and out of the mainstream box?

What do you think?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart


Filed under arts marketing, Audience Development

5 responses to “Audience Development and branding creatively

  1. Sounds like an interesting exercise with the 50 brands and I can well believe that most are hard to differentiate. Part of the issue may be that they are trying to communicate ‘orchestra’ rather than ‘this orchestra in particular’, because they think that *that*’s the tough bit of the sale, which would suggest they are very much on the back foot to start with…

  2. I agree with what you are saying, Oliver. What doesn’t make sense is if this old brand isn’t working as well, why wouldn’t they try something else? The 9-10 orchestras that have different brands are actually doing quite well. They serve as a good example of what branding should be all about, and good branding will provide good results.

  3. Pingback: Personal Branding is Changing Audience Development for the arts | Audience Development Specialists Blog!

  4. Hello Shoshana, we are the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (, about 60 members from across Europe and the world) and our logo is a red ibis. Being their marketing manager, I am well aware that a brand is not just a logo and therefore, we are trying to find ways of ‘animating’ our red ibis, bringing it to life, in order to differentiate ourselves from the other orchestras. We are seeking inspiration everywhere we can and would be most grateful if you could give us the list of the 9-10 orchestras that you found to have unusual branding strategies. In advance, thank you very much.

    • Thank you for flying in to comment. :O) I most certainly can follow up in the near future to post my list of orchestras that I found to be branding uniquely. Thank you for putting in a request, and when the post is up, I will contact you. Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and I wish you the best success with your branding initiative!

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