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THE ART OF IMMERSION


24 September 2018

Avatar    Sarah Askew


The process of research is not just about acting as a supplier, but fully immersing yourself in the client’s world. We’re all about getting our hands dirty so we can live and breathe the brands that we work with. This time our Insight Director Sarah Askew took a somewhat colourful approach in discovering the art of immersion for our client Colart.


 

Being responsible for a brand touch point on behalf of a client is a big deal. In essence, we’re talking directly to their customers as if we were the client or brand itself. It’s really important that our interactions with customers feel authentic and on-brand to create a seamless experience.

The best way to achieve this? Complete and total brand immersion. For our client Colart, this involved us wearing lab coats, thousands of litres of paint, and learning about mummies brains…!

Colart is a large international supplier of art materials, with brands such as Winsor & Newton, Liquitex and Lefranc & Bourgeois. We partnered with them to create and launch an online insight community called ‘Inspire’. The purpose of which is to get closer to their consumers to gain a deeper understanding of their creative processes, how they interact with the current range of art supplies, and what products they’d like to see in the future.

As insight specialists and community managers, we interact daily and directly with Colart consumers on behalf of the client. As far as these consumers are concerned, when they communicate with us via the online community, they are speaking directly with Colart. As an extension of our clients’ team, we need to live and breathe the brand so that everything we do and say feels authentic.

Here’s where the art of immersion comes in. To kick-off the project myself and my colleague Mona Souli hopped on a train to London to visit Colart HQ. As dedicated Insight Director and Community Manager we were ready to get our hands dirty. Or should I say colourful?

 

 

Firstly, spending face-to-face time, not only with our main contacts but other staff at Colart, gave us valuable knowledge on all aspects of the business, from the day-to-day to the wider vision.

We had sessions with the Brand and Shopper Marketing teams to understand the main challenges and opportunities. Their passion for the brand, the products, and art in general was really infectious. Learning about The Fine Art Collective, an educational programme aimed at Fine Art students, got us thinking about the ‘lingo’ required when talking to a younger audience.

Taking a full tour of Colart HQ exposed us to all aspects of the brand, from the workplace environment, to branding, packaging and tone of voice. Our online community represents Colart visually and verbally, so seeing all these brand touch points first-hand helped us bring the project to life further down the line.

It’s clear that consumers have a deep respect for Colart’s range of established brands, so little gems of knowledge go a long way. We were taken through the Windsor & Newton archive to learn about the heritage of the brand and the history of paint colours. Who knew that the first brown paints were made from mummies’ brains?!

 

 

A highlight of the day was spending time in the lab, where Colart’s products are tested and developed. We got hands on with oil paints, water colours and finishes, producing some very questionable artwork. Colart’s in-house artist and product scientist helped us to understand the qualities and usage of different products and how customers might interact them.

We came away instilled with a huge amount of passion for all things art. It was a fun and inspiring day, but more importantly what we learnt was invaluable for the project. Even months after launch, we still remember and apply these learnings every single day when interacting with members of the ‘Inspire’ community.

Here’s to many more memorable, messy and meaningful immersion days with our clients.