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Stand Out! How You Can Become an Artist of Business

Contributor: Billee Howard

Recognizing that business is an art form and that you, as a businessperson, are an artist is critical to surviving and thriving in the sharing economy.

Since nobody knew how to mix art with commerce better than Andy Warhol did, here are three rules, in his own words, about how you can become an artist of business.

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1. Good Business Is the Best Art

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Art today is the ultimate vehicle for transforming a common commodity into a sought-after treasure. Why? Because art transforms something that was once utilitarian into a vessel of engagement, as Warhol did with the Campbell’s soup can.

Being an artist of business involves taking a product and turning it into an experience that engages the consumer and makes them a fan and loyalist for life because they are drawn to the product and to the emotions the product evokes. Try thinking about your products and services from an artistic point of view.

What feelings do you want to evoke in your costumers?

What feelings do you not want to illicit?

Understand the creative and emotional impact of everything you do when it comes to your brand and learn how to create experiences, messages, stories, and systems that express the essence of that artistic vision.

2. Change It Yourself

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Warhol’s disruptive approach was intentionally designed to change the way we see, experience, and purchase art. Similarly, in business today, where technology has accelerated the pace of economic and social change, the ability to artistically disrupt yourself and your brand is critical.

In business today you have to take creative risks, challenge the status quo, turn a deaf ear to detractors, and push for changes that will make the world a more beautiful place. When you are constantly exploring avenues for seeing and experiencing life via your product, you are creating a studio environment that will produce the innovations that will engineer your business in the future.

Today the Campbell’s soup can piece is a masterpiece valued in the tens of millions. When it was first painted, however, it was regarded as an insult to art, and Warhol was viewed as a fraud. Warhol, confident in his ability to change things for the better, persevered with his vision because he knew that he was giving us something that we just didn’t know we wanted yet. But he also knew that one day, we would want it a lot and pay plenty for it.

3. Engage and Add Value

“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

As Warhol predicted, in today’s We-Commerce world, everyone is a brand, everyone has a voice, and everyone has access to a following that in some cases is extraordinarily large. In light of this, business artists must recognize that consumers have transformed from mere users of product to co-creators of content. Successful brands will tap into this collective urge to co-create with the products we consume and engage the stars in their community in a way that will halo back to the brand and create lifelong connections.

Brands of all kinds have to attract and grow a social media following across all of the relevant platforms these days in order to compete. More and more, follows and likes are the measure of success and brand loyalty, and it’s incumbent upon you, as a business owner or marketer, to create content that engages your communities on a regular basis and adds value to your consumer’s life.

The days of the standard advertisement are quickly coming to an end. Brands must now become artists, creating arresting and immersive canvases that draw their consumers back again and again to delight and engage with brand messaging. Just as Warhol predicted not just people but brands must now achieve celebrity in order to compete. So think about what will make your brand famous within the context of social media and start a conversation with your community that will grow and expand commensurately with your business.

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Adapted from We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy by Billee Howard. © 2015 by Billee Howard. Tarcher Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

billee-howard-photoBillee Howard is founder of Brandthropologie, a cutting-edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals produce innovative, creative, and passionate dialogues with target communities. Her book We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy was published in December 2015.

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