Beyond the paint: How branding and art criticism relate

Christina Lindsey

Though I have pre-liquidfish marketing and advertising experience, my background is and has always been in the Fine Arts. With both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Art History, I have spent many hours learning how to properly and thoroughly evaluate a piece of art. The most complicated part of this process is learning how to dig deeper—how to look past first impressions and superficial elements into a fuller understanding of its very essence. This involves an awareness of many things, including an evaluation of its emotive properties, evocative nature, texture, colors, style, history, and distinguishing features.

For instance, when considering a painting by Jackson Pollock, one’s first impression may be that of chaos and overvaluation: the common reaction asking the question, “Why is this worth millions of dollars? Anyone could do this.” But through the study of art, you are given the tools to see past what’s immediately visible. Suddenly, the textures inherently formed from the drops and splatters of paint come into focus, the apparent chaos fades into a surprising and unexpected degree of restraint, and the awareness that no one before or after Pollock created anything even remotely resembling this style comes to the forefront of your mind. He created it. It was and remains an innovation in the history of art. It is his and only his.

Put all of this in the context of postwar America and its metaphorical representation of the public’s fear of impending nuclear war, as well as a psychological representation of Pollock’s psyche and alcoholism, and there you have it: Pollock was a master. Applying the word “unique” to his work suddenly falls short. He stands alone in the history of art as an innovator—a creator of this style that is inherently and exclusively his—and forever it shall be.

So, how does this relate to branding? The simple answer is the key to successful branding is digging deeper. Looking beyond the surface of what a product or company is to see further into its very essence. How is it different? What makes it special? What is its personality, its character, its soul? Take a makeup subscription company as an example. There are hundreds of these services on the market today, so how do you go about branding one of them? How can you successfully brand and market such a company? Look deeper. Through such an evaluation, you find the company analyzes its products to verify their purity as an assurance that no harmful chemicals or toxins exist within their ingredients. The lack of regulation in the cosmetics industry allows ingredients that can threaten women’s health to abound in many major companies’ products, forming a void that needs to be filled. This is our client’s key differentiator. This is what our messaging will communicate. This is what will make it sell.

Suddenly, potential customers are educated on something they had likely been unaware of—something important, something that matters, and something that applies to every woman. The personality of this company is relatable, like a friend giving you advice—a conversation began by women, for women. The creative you subsequently create for this company features visuals that are clean and light. They evoke a certain softness, delicacy, and are feminine, but not flowery. Beautiful in the simplest, purest manner, just like the product itself. Phrases such as, “we believe in beauty, pure and simple,” come to mind. All of the pieces fit together. All of the apparent chaos and confusion comes into focus to form something entirely different from what you were first presented with at first glance.

Like art, every brand tells its own unique story. There is always a distinguishing factor(s) that makes it unique. Its personality, traits, history, and associations come together to tell a bigger story. Take the time to examine these aspects to come to a fuller, deeper understanding of it… to see beyond the paint.