18 May 2009

Brand value of art

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Brand value has become immensely important in art - the association with a high end brand is seen as a status symbol, and as a product to be flaunted before others. Most potential buyers tend to relate to a known artist’s name just as one would respond to brands of watches, bags or clothing. A must have for any art connoisseur; these are artists equated with quality, consistency and lasting value, which is what places them at par with international brands. Some of the other features that are equated with a brand - recall value and the promise to deliver start to work here as well. And, that is where collectors are willing to go the extra dollar or rupee to own one.

Although art as an investment instrument has caught on immensely in only the last few years, the fact remains that most people still have limited knowledge regarding artists and their works. It is noticed that artists who are featured regularly in the news or the page 3 section are known more in the ‘non-art’ circles. Sometimes the association with a familiar name even leads to purchases of artworks as the average buyer is more likely to invest money in an artist who is perceived as a known entity. Although this cannot be equated directly with brand value, but, there is a link and an association with recall value. In creating a brand image, apart from talent, PR skills, marketing and media hype play a huge role. And, global recognition adds to the brand value. Most artist brands are those who have established themselves over the years – they have sustained themselves and have created a niche for their particular brand of art.

M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F. N. Souza are huge brands amongst the moderns, whereas artists like Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher and T V Santosh lead the category amongst the contemporary. With these artists, the investment aspect is clearly safe and risk free, however, as their prices run into several lakhs to crores of rupees, the amount of money required cannot be afforded by all. Clearly in art too, to own a brand one needs to have deep pockets.

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