The first of Impakt’s new Brand Works seminars was launched last week, kindly hosted by the Royal Albert Hall in their opulent Prince of Wales Room. Thank you to Louise Halliday and her team for having us, and thanks to all those who came along and contributed new perspectives.

After a short interview between Impakt’s Rob Macpherson and Lucy Sinclair, who recently joined Google as Director of Market Insight (MI), Garry Blackburn of Rose Design shared experiences across two award-winning decades introduced by Andy Hartwell of Substrakt.

We also welcomed an expert panel from Sheffield Theatres, Warwick Arts Centre, The…


In part one of this seminar summary, I looked at how, in our rapidly changing times, and on top of all their increasing pressures, arts charities can still learn from the commercial world to develop an integrated brand strategy. Our secret weapon, creativity, will be the fuel to take us there. But we all have to dial up the urgency before we are over-taken by purpose-driven profit-hunters.

For part two here, I cover some of the origins of branding, the background to Birmingham Hippodrome’s award-winning journey of change, and a few useful insights for developing your own arts brand.

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I spoke at some seminars recently[i] about creating an ‘integrated brand strategy’. I didn’t want to dwell on too many specific arts issues, but rather provide some provocative food-for-thought and spark a few new ideas.

Here’s part one of a summary, part two to come soon, partially informed by questions asked at the sessions, and by spirited conversations afterwards. (NB: There was barely any mention of fonts and pantones, and hardly any audience participation.)

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I want to look at three things today:

1. how a creative and integrated brand connects your organisation internally between teams, and externally with wider…


Photo by Jim Witkowski on Unsplash

Since setting up Impakt just before Easter this year alongside the digital team at Substrakt, I’ve been clocking up the miles, criss-crossing the UK, and doing a lot of listening. 96 meetings in 80 days. I must be mad.

I’ve listened to subsidised arts charities, festivals, commercial theatre networks, producers and agencies. Venues and touring companies, museums, galleries and arts centres. Universities and funders, local authorities, housing and education not-for-profits, and private grant-makers. I’ve heard from Marketing heads, Chief Execs, and Trustees. All scales and sizes. Rich and poor. Creative and frustrated.

And pretty much everyone has the same concerns. So, here’s my useful summary of the top five. Let me know if you spot anything familiar:

1. Don’t mention the ‘B’ word.

(Not ‘Boris’, not ‘Brexit’, but ‘brand’.) Brand is a hugely under-resourced area, sometimes regarded as the…


Shoulda, woulda, coulda (got my branding right…)

This weekend, I had the privilege of assisting Birmingham Hippodrome with some important brand positioning around their 120th Anniversary Gala Dinner. These major events really deliver on advocacy as well as fundraising and have become legendary spectacles for the theatre (this was my 7th, and the last major handover project I’m involved with there).

After a free outdoor performance from Motionhouse and a red-carpet champagne reception, 250 VIP guests took centre stage viewing a beautifully lit auditorium. The unique entertainment included highlights from successful musicals, pieces of community work-in-progress (including a poignant West Side Story medley from local kids), a…


Birmingham Hippodrome: fill every seat!

Who really likes hearing about success? …really?

I’m always suspicious of “Big Breakthrough” presentations, or “How We Triumphed” strategy posts. The repeated frustrations we all wade through daily are far more interesting. They help us learn, keep us hungry for improvement, and build resilience.

I’m starting a new venture this spring (following my time at Birmingham Hippodrome trying to tell its story and fill all the seats pictured above) to share with others the benefits of 15 years of learning, improvement and, from time to time, failure. …

Creating Impakt

We’re a new team of marketing professionals, with valuable experience in promoting culture, which we want to share with you and your business.

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