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Rebranding The MET: Branding beyond relevant & into irresistible

Rebranding The MET: Branding beyond relevant & into irresistible

The MET conducted a review of their brand and the customers attending the MET. They realized that brand is more than a logo, trademark, etc, it’s an emotional connection.  Emotional connections matter more than customer satisfaction – in fact it’s worth 2x more in terms of lifetime value for that customer. The second thing learned in marketing and mapping out customer journey, typically, they spend too much time trying to create better customer satisfaction. In reality, we should be building the emotional connection – which is often at a different point in the customer journey than customer satisfaction.  Remember, your brand is a relationship, and it includes building trust, authenticity, consistency, and having a two-way conversation.  These are the things that we learned from Rebranding the Metropolitan Art Museum with Cynthia Round at the Digital Summit in Portland.

The Metropolitan Art Museum in New York was founded in 1870, and it represents 5,000 years of art and history. In the last decade, they found themselves becoming a more elite institution, missing the connections with regular museum attendees. A new goal was given, to put the MET on the bucket list of everyone in the world.

Start with this question for a better museum brand experiences:

How is this museum significant in the lives of its loyal users?

Research by the MET found that art is completely alive, and people who love the MET found that the MET brings art alive for them and makes it very personal and relevant. They experience wonder, awe, and it allows them to place themselves in the stream of humanity.

With this insight, the MET used a new strategy called Life to Art, Art to Lives: Transforming the museum to be living, real, connecting, welcoming, give insights, invoke curiosity, and provide the unexpected.  They created a new logo based on the word mark of THE MET. Reorganized signage and materials, colors, etc.

In creating a strong digital experience for the museum, they realized that there are 6 million people that walk in to the doors every year – but there are 30 million people whom access the website. They had to rethink the experience and create a digital experience for those that aren’t physically in the museum.  The physical experience was still important, along with wayfinding, and the ability to fill the large space effectively. They paid attention to the entry experience and realized that the security guards are the first part of the experience – so the MET changed their titles and visible presence to be Directors of Information.

How can you bring art alive across all departments within a museum?

The MET created 4 experience principles:

  • Perforate the walls (the museum goes beyond the walls and physical location)
  • Democratize distribution (give more people power and access to promote the museum)
  • Create distinctive experience (pay attention to the experience, not just the art)
  • Convert visitors to users (when you’re at the MET, use the art in your life and as part of your experience)

The digital team created a 1-year long series interviewing living artists and visitors, discussing their favorite parts of the museum.  The social media team paid attention to Instagram – bringing in media influencers after hours and gave them the opportunity to be close and personal with art.  Now the museum does one tour each day, in the morning before the museum opens to promote this type of content.

As a way to convert visitors to users the MET created a concept called Take The MET.  As part of this initiative, school age students were invited each year to come into the MET and share the experience with other kids – ranging from all five of the boroughs.   The MET opened its doors late on Fridays and Saturdays – Friday being a lower attendance night.  New Yorkers typically are 25% of the attendees, but on Friday nights, that number doubles to 50%.  A concept was created called MET Fridays, New York’s Night Out.

With these changes, the MET was able to:

  • Drive 7 Million attendees in a year – creating a strong segment of 18-35 year old’s comprising 37% of the total.
  • Over 31 million visitors visited the website.
  • The MET became the most visited New York art attraction.

Conduct this Brand Audit to learn more about your brand and how people interact with it.

  • Think about the specific things that trigger this brands identity in your mind.
  • What specific feelings do you experience in connection with the brand?
  • What personal memories, folklore or associations does the brand bring to your mind?
  • Beyond the technical function it performs, what does the brand do for you that other brands in this category do not?
  • How do the feelings and emotions it evokes in you differ from those of its competitors?
  • How do people who choose this brand differ from those who choose other brands?

4 Takeaways for museums that want to understand their brand better:

  • Emotional bond is worth 2x customer satisfaction
  • How is brand significant in the lives of users?
  • Brand = relationship
  • Inspire/empower all of your staff to build a 360° irresistible brand.

Scott Fish

Scott Fish is the CMO at Off Road, responsible for the business development team and managing the marketing delivery and client management team. During the past two decades, he has worked with growing companies around the world in evolving industries such as tourism, franchises, hotels, sports associations and cultural organizations. Scott is a founding board member of SEMpdx, the largest regionally focused digital marketing organization in the US. He creates strategies to drive more business and connect better with their customers.