Branding Lessons from the Venice Art Biennale

Venice Art Biennale, the internationally renowned, biannual art event that takes over Venice, Italy from May to November is not only of great social, cultural and political stature, it’s also a powerful marketing platform – for countries. It’s a place where Canada for instance, can be seen as a global brand and visitors can be made into global brand ambassadors. Perhaps the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art fair in the world has something to teach us about branding as well as art.

Each country participating in the Venice Art Biennale, selects its finest contemporary artist to represent the country in originality, innovation and relevance on the global art scene. It’s a task with many parallels to marketing that will seem familiar to brand managers of all kinds; the task of making a country or brand as desirable and irresistible as possible. Still, despite the Biennale delivering many stimulating experiences and plenty of valuable lessons on creative strategy, it has yet to become a destination for companies to send brand managers to glean what art professionals have been doing for years.

One brand, however, that can boast taking full advantage of everything the biennale has to offer is Italy’s very own Illycaffè. A prominent Italian coffee company, Illy has been one of the key sponsors of this famed art event for many years. Simply put, the Italian-based brand has made art and the search for beauty, central to how they do business. They’ve harnessed the emotional appeal of art by becoming one of the first coffee brands to use art collaborations to help elevate its brand’s core proposition and expand its soul.

According to Illy, “… the search for beauty isn’t merely a nice thing to do, or a marketing exercise, but a cornerstone of corporate culture and decision-making.” The coffee brand considers their coffee cup collaborations with prominent artists “Illy’s highest profile, ongoing cultural project”.

Their collaborations, just like art, are not about just seeing, but fully experiencing them, visually and emotionally. Illy has managed to build all the necessary sensory components to transform basic coffee consumption into a full aesthetic experience. At Arts & Labour, we say “bravi Illy!” while sipping their delicious espresso, proudly back in Canada.

In our next post, we’ll be exploring space, the new art-fusion frontier. Until then.

Venice art biennale 2015
Venice art biennale 2015
Illymind at the Venice art Biennale 2015
Illymind at the Venice art Biennale 2015
The optical art Illy Biennale Cafe x Tobias Rehberger at the Venice Art Biennale 2015
illymind at the Venice Art Biennale e 2015
illy cafe shipping container (closed) at the Venice Art Biennale 2015
illy cafe shipping container (open)at the Venice Art Biennale 2015
Illy Cafe bar x jeff koons, 2002
Illy Cafe bar x Tobias Rehberger at the london design week 2015
Illy Cafe x Robert Wilson art performance, 2014
Illy Cafe x Robert Wilson art performance, 2014