When the Organization Wears its Brand

by cv harquail on July 31, 2009

The organization itself can wear the brand — it isn’t just the employees’ who can “wear the brand”. The organization’s physical being can (and should) express its brand and purpose. When an organization expresses its purpose through the way it is physically situating itself, I like to think of it as “whereing” the brand.

From Andrew Taylor, who writes The Artful Manager blog about the business of arts and culture, comes this example of an organization whereing and wearing its brand, by expressing its purpose from the inside out.

_wikipedia_commons_thumb_0_01_Hamburg.GalerieDerModerne.wmt.jpg_180px-Hamburg.GalerieDerModerne.wmt.jpgBecause Taylor recognizes the ways that museums and other arts institutions miss opportunities to expand their reach and impact, he notes with concern how

” so many cultural facilities are inward-looking behemoths (massive stone or glass facades, seemingly with their backs to the outside world)”

Thus, Taylor is intrigued by this example of of a museum playing with the relationship between its physical structure and its social surroundings.

In the photo (left) it may not look like anything out of the ordinary for a museum building, but wait until you see the video (below).

Static Authenticity

The building belonging to the Gallery of Modern Art at the Kunsthalle Hamburg is itself is an example of “modern” art/architecture. The design of the building expresses the purpose of the organization it houses. In this way, museum as an organization has turned itself outwards as well as inwards (i.e., towards external stakeholders as well as internal ones), because its external representation shows the organization’s purpose.

That’s authentic, sure, but it’s kind of a static authenticity.

Consider that, since the design and construction of the museum building (by O. M. Ungers) was completed in 1997, the building hasn’t been a dynamic, interactive, conscious expression of the organization’s purpose– until now.

Take a minute to click on this video. Watch for 10 seconds, until you see the ‘reveal’.

555 KUBIK | facade projection | from urbanscreen on Vimeo.

Enacting Organizational Purpose on the Outside

Consider for a second the aesthetic and learning experience you’re having watching and listening to this video. What do you think of the way that this organization is bringing to life its identity as a modern art museum and its purpose of bringing art to the public?

Is this organization enacting its purpose and expressing its authenticity in an engaging way, or what?

Thanks Andrew.


Todd August 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

I looked at the picture of the building and couldn’t understand what you were talking about–doesn’t look any more like a museum than, say, MOMA. But when I watched the video, I was astounded at what they’ve created. Truly a work of art–might just be the coolest thing I’ve seen this year!

lisa gates August 2, 2009 at 12:14 am

This makes me wonder what this expression would look like on an individual. If I were to video myself on an average day, or even my most creative productive day, would you see my authentic self? Would I hold meaning for the world?

CV Harquail August 2, 2009 at 11:30 am

Lisa, I think that’s a great question! Assuming that one can recognize the meaning behind behaviors (which is a big assumption, considering how many different ways a single behavior can be ‘read’) it should be pretty clear when a person is acting authentically (or doing her best to act authentically). I think there is a general assumption that we can tell when a person is acting authentically. Despite all the research that demonstrates how ineffective we are at detecting lies and liars (see Bella de Paulo’s work), we still believe that in our ‘guts’ or bodies we can tell when someone is being truthful. Maybe that’s an important distinction, to be aware that we can’t necessarily tell inauthenticity, but we can recognize authenticity. provocative idea– thanks for sharing it!

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