What marketing has learned from the best street art

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We should search for knowledge in the strangest of places.

Yes, I know – very corny. But it’s true nonetheless. Actually improving, becoming better, it all hinges on always keeping an open mind and being ready to learn. This where street art and marketing meet.

Some may think of it as just graffiti — vulgarities on city walls but it’s so much more. There are messages, there is structure and there are rules behind the best street art: Places where you can tag, places where it’s just not right, how to handle somebody else’s art, what you are allowed to do.

Street art isn’t just gang signs, it can be beautifully chaotic murals on abandoned factories and train cars. On the other hand, marketing is essentially seen, at least today, as completely corporate. All about structure, and corny slogan, cheesy sayings.

Street art is the exact opposite. It’s, well, on the streets — anti-capitalist, anarchist, libertine, completely unrestricted. And yet, the marketing world learned and has yet to learn, a lot from its aesthetic and philosophy.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Printsome as a whole.

 

best street art, marketing

 

The Best Street Art is Unique, Visceral, and Free

It’s all about the moment. It gives you a very clear, blunt message, right on the head. It’s supposed to catch your attention, to draw your eyes to it. The very point of it is simplicity.

Taggers* didn’t have time to go into detail when doing their work. They had to be on the lookout for cops, for passers-by… Furthermore, you see this work when you’re walking through the streets, and not exactly sitting down (though this is something I warmly recommend).

Or let’s go a bit higher and look at artists like Banksy. All his stuff is simple, clear, and to the point. It relies on simplistic imagery to get the message across, while still being clear and unique. On the other hand, Edgar Müller is a bit more complex but the standard rules still apply. He does pavement art, making photo-realistic art that just pops out at you.

Street art even influenced T-shirt design, of all things, with these simple shapes and signs. In the marketing world, this means to learn these lessons. Look at how it pops, how it catches people’s attention.

You want to do the same, to be unique. It’s all about those split-second snaps of marketing that will make your ad campaign a success. Try to not limit yourself, to be free. Think outside of the box.

* People who write graffiti using their nickname or identifying symbol.

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Mastery (and thoroughness)

There is one thing that truly makes all these people we mentioned stand out and that is being masters of their craft. All these artists, from Banksy and Basquiat, to the regular guy with a can of spray paint in the streets, they all have that in common. It took them years to perfect and hone and refine their craft. And this is where marketing experts get complacent and shallow.

So they got their education, they got a nice job and now what — they rest on their laurels. Being a good marketing expert is a skill in and of itself. It needs to be worked on. If a guy who only has a can of spray paint and a wall can make good art, what’s stopping you from doing your job well?

Next is being thorough. A good street artist wants to start an art installation. He or she needs to know the rules, or he or she will get in trouble (if that is, actually, something that they want to avoid). Of course, all of this is specific for your city and country.

So, what would work in China, may not be as effective as, let’s say, Australia. Promoting your work and ads with banners is a great idea, but even getting the best building wraps in Brisbane (or wherever you’re stationed) won’t help you if what you’re doing is illegal.

 

best street art, marketing

 

Guerrilla marketing – wild and in your face

Of course, marketing is always changing, from day to day, hour to hour but perhaps what street art influenced the most is guerrilla marketing. It has all the elements and virtues we mentioned above.

It incorporates creativity, community, uniqueness, all on the street level. Guerilla marketing brings advertising to the streets. With flyers, stickers, building wraps, flash mobs, all of this makes advertising unique and in-your-face.

One of the main lessons and influences of street art is really bringing it back to the individual, street level. One of the more popular guerrilla marketing tactics is getting stickers for your band, your company or just your logo. Then you go and place them around the area where you think your target audience hangs out at.

Guerilla marketing can also rely on a stunt. It can be as silly as Oscar Mayer’s Weiner mobile, to Audi spray painting ‘di*sel – it’s no longer a dirty word’ on boardwalks. Some use the world as their canvas. They see something regular in the world and add their own spin on it.

Marketing and the best street art may seem like a strange combo but when done well, it can produce amazing results.

Text: Nick Brown


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