Every day I comb the art world news to see what’s new and what might be helpful to share with my subscribers. And every day there is a story about another art dealer behaving badly in business by either not paying their artists, tax evasion, embezzlement, etc. etc. I believe the frequency of this kind of news could be a contributing factor in why new collectors are not visiting galleries as much. I think the art gallery sector has a big image problem as not being trustworthy to do the right thing. Of course, I also believe most art galleries are made up of wonderful, passionate people who are making the world a better place through art. But you know what they say… One bad apple can spoil the bushel. Many other business sectors are in the same boat. So, what is an honest gallery to do? Improve your brand strategy.
As we become increasingly connected to information, we have become more exposed to scandals that test our trust in brands. One way to combat this among suspicious would-be art collectors is through a recent trend in brand strategy of being generous. Buyers are thirsty for real social commitment from brands that are genuine and align with causes the buyer cares about as well. This strategy can go a long way influencing buying decisions. Being visible as a generous brand has many benefits for both gallery and collector.
Benefits to the art collector:
- Delivers more than what is expected in a buying experience
- It feels good buying art that also impacts a worthy cause
- Increases the halo effect of the collector being perceived as generous and caring.
Benefits to the gallery:
- Increases the bond between gallery and collector
- Improves gallery reputation
- Builds a sense of community based on generosity
- Financially and personally rewarding
- Increases opportunities for PR and partnerships
- Expands network to new prospective art buyers within the cause’s other supporters.
- Improves employee morale to be involved in helping others.
Before we get into how an art gallery can become a generous brand as part of their overall brand strategy, let’s look at few other companies that are already doing it.
One well known example of a company using brand generosity really well is TOMS shoes. They heavily promoted the fact that they would donate one pair of shoes to those in needs for every pair sold. It worked for me. I love my flashy gold glitter TOMS. (My family is not a fan of my choice. Too bad for them). Their noble mission is a big part of their brand and marketing messaging. Their customers can take pride in supporting the cause and enjoy learning more about the key issues of this cause that TOMS is working to overcome.
Hong Kong art galleries banded together last November for an Art and Wine Gallery Walk to support three different local charities. They sold tickets to the event and proceeds were distributed to their chosen causes.
“Art exhibitions, live music, wine tasting and performances by HK Ballet will create a must-see spectacle along the route. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to supporting three local charities with a focus on art and community programmes”
Art Gallery Generosity as Brand Strategy
As a brand strategy for your art gallery, I think it is important to commit to a single cause long term vs the occasional donation or supporting multiple causes on a smaller scale. Really embrace being generous and supporting a cause you believe in deeply. Something local or something art related may tie in best with your gallery’s mission. There are infinite ways your art gallery can support a cause and it does not necessary need to be through monetary donations. Below are just a few ideas to consider regarding what your gallery might consider. To really have greatest impact, you should consider choosing multiple ways of providing support that can take place year-round.
- Annual fundraiser
- Gallery staff can volunteer their time
- Sell tickets to your gallery events to support your contributions
- Help generate awareness in your community about the needs of the cause.
- Donate a percentage of every sale of artwork.
- Gallery space can be donated for your causes events and meetings
This list could go on and on depending on the cause you select to advocate. I would encourage you to involve gallery staff, artists and collectors in the process of choosing and supporting your cause. Your continued contributions of support give your gallery an amazing story to tell that will extend your reach within the community and help to make your art gallery’s brand and reputation shine.
People will be more likely to be interested in what the gallery offers and doing business with that kind of brand. This kind of brand generosity opens the door for your gallery business to expand your presence within the community to those who may never have known about your gallery or artists. This can lead to many interesting opportunities, referrals and sales.
Are you already involved in support a worthy cause? I would love to hear about your cause and how your gallery got involved. Post a comment and brag a little.