Business owners will know only too well of the many calls on their time and resources. There is a constant pressure to satisfy the multiple needs of every thriving business – large or small – be it the need to provide an appropriate environment and facilities for the work force and to motivate and encourage valued employees, to attract new business and once won, maintain those connections, to create and sustain an innovative brand and enhance market awareness, or simply to find suitable and promising investment opportunities.
Art can help answer many of these needs in an exciting, inspiring, enjoyable and surprisingly cost effective manner. In this article we look at 10 ways in which art can contribute to the broader commercial activities and status of any business.
The Work Place Environment
Starting with the basics, the immediate work place should be a pleasant and interesting environment. There can be nothing more depressing than drab, uninspiring, cold and empty rooms and employees will react positively and with greater enthusiasm if they have around them pieces of stimulating and exhilarating art.
Mood, motivation and output can be encouraged and increased by providing an uplifting environment and carefully selected pieces of art can play a key part in facilitating that.
Art can also be used to support internal “identities”, such as individual teams or departments each having a slightly different visual distinctiveness, albeit as part of an overall brand cohesiveness, which can encourage team loyalty and positive competitiveness and genres of art can create those subtle “personality” traits.
Just as important as employee wellbeing and motivation, is the initial impact on customers or clients when first visiting a business’ premises. First impressions are highly significant and there can be nothing more off-putting than being confronted with a drab, depressing and soulless office or reception space. That impression will carry thought to the business itself and its people.
For very little cost or effort a business can use interesting art to make a dramatic, positive and uplifting impression, which will help it portray a dynamic, welcoming, warm and friendly attitude and outlook – a vital first step in establishing a new business relationship.
Image and Brand Alignment
Art can be used as an integral part of a business’ overall brand and image and can help establish an identity, create an impression and assist aligning the brand with the overall strategy of the entity.
Whether that “image” be one of quiet professionalism and discretion, tradition, pedigree and continuity or modernity, brashness and market disruption, there are examples of art that can cover all bases.
A long established, professional services firm, looking to create an impression of gravitas and with a client base seeking discrete and private advice can look to certain genres of art to reflect that market; very different to those relevant to a hi tech, cutting edge, disrupter business seeking a younger, more edgy and vibrant clientele.
The almost limitless forms and styles of art can cater for all these needs and across all market sectors.
Specific Marketing Activities
Art can be utilised for one-off projects and specific marketing activities. Increasingly, property developers are using art to showcase new developments, whether that be on a temporary basis (to “dress” the development), or permanently – creating, in effect, a mini art gallery to add prestige and kudos to high value projects.
Other examples might be the use of art in a particular advertising campaign or at a trade fair or product launch or staging an exhibition at your office and inviting clients in to meet the artists and, of course, in doing so network with your team.
For some businesses and entities, it will be important to offer a pleasing environment to customers and clients as an integral part of the services offered and in a manner that is suitable and conducive to their activities.
Examples here might be in the health sector where waiting rooms can be cheered up and treatment areas made more calming or uplifting by the addition of appropriate artworks, to help a patient have a more positive experience. Too often these areas are left looking drab and depressing – adding to the already low mood of the patients – and a sympathetic selection of art can simply and effectively help raise spirits.
Similarly in the hotel sector, whilst the first impressions are critically important (see 2 above) with statement pieces of art in the reception area, this needs to be carried through to the bedrooms and other public spaces, again to ensure a positive vibe for the overall guest experience.
Differing but analogous examples can be found in a range of businesses where customers or clients are actively involved with, and spend time in the premises of, the entity.
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
Most businesses now seek to offer a programme of corporate social responsibility (“CSR”). This is in tune with a growing view that businesses should work with and for their local communities and offer back something to help the less advantaged elements in society.
This is a laudable outlook and is generally popular with work forces, investors and business partners – indeed many entities especially (but not wholly) in the public sector, require business partners and suppliers to have a demonstrable CSR programme.
The wider art community can provide opportunities for CSR activities, whether by companies supporting and encouraging emerging artists and art students (for example by exhibiting their work or by advising on setting up and running their individual businesses, providing training on specific commercial matters, running networking forums or a plethora of other activities) or contributing to or donating art for public spaces or financing social enterprises and projects involving art and artists for the benefit of the wider community.
The art world is, in reality, a large and multifaceted community, covering not just the artists themselves, but galleries, dealers, auction houses, conservators, banks and financial institutions, academics, educational establishments and students, publishers, shippers, insurers, security, legal and tax advisors and whole host of other concerns.
Even an initial and tentative involvement with this market could lead to connections and networking opportunities that may go far beyond the art itself and lead to wider business possibilities.
Workforces are becoming increasingly diverse and successful employers realise the need to create and promote an inclusive working environment.
Art can help do this and unify people from differing cultures, ethnicities, genders and religion. It can highlight areas of tension and disagreement and then help overcome differences and foster tolerance, respect and cohesion. This will help attract and maintain the best employees.
Art can be a very sound financial investment. Over many years the market for art has generally increased and carefully selected works of art have appreciated at an exponential rate.
Many corporate collections of art have been based on the acquisition of art from emerging artists – artists with talent and potential who are spotted at the beginning of their careers and whose work can be acquired at reasonable cost, but then appreciates rapidly as the artists’ reputations grow.
Some businesses stage exhibitions of art by students or other emerging artists and have a policy of acquiring one piece of work from each show. As the years go by the collection grows and the values increase, leading to a substantial investment portfolio.
Flexibility and fun!
There are numerous ways that art can be “acquired” and this of itself can lead to flexibility in the business and maximise the benefits listed above.
Art can be purchased outright or often on more flexible terms through galleries, or it can be financed by various loan and lease models.
But art can also simply be exhibited and used for shorter term projects. Overall this can lead to creative arrangements for the acquisition and display of art, long or short term, thus enabling a vibrant stimulating and potentially continually changing display of art.
Whilst this can help a business on many levels, it should never be forgotten that it also provides, in its purest form, fun and enjoyment for all the stakeholders involved in your business.
As will be seen, art can fulfil a number of roles in any business. However, the art should be selected carefully and in the context of the specific requirements and purposes of each business – which will vary considerably.
VEDO Corporate Art can assist in this respect and offers specialist expertise in selecting, supplying and hanging art in and for a range of sectors, businesses and environments. We have a specific process to help make choosing art that is relevant to your business and has resonance with your brand straight forward and enjoyable.
To find out more about how we can help you install exhibitions, commission artworks and build a corporate art collection, please see our services page on our website and contact us for a free consultation.