A picture is worth a thousand words or, if you are Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream, 120 million dollars US.
Why IS the value of The Scream so astronomical? What makes it the second most recognizable piece of art, behind the Mona Lisa? Put another way, from what is the value earned? The paint? The canvas? The artist? I would wager it is in the potency of the idea. This argument illustrates that the value of an image can be immeasurable when embodying a cultural moment, one that will never truly be experienced again.
To quote the Sotheby’s catalog, “An icon of global visual culture, The Scream is instantly recognizable. Since its creation at the turn of the 20th century, the haunting composition stands as the visual embodiment of modern anxiety and existential dread, referenced by everyone from Andy Warhol to The Simpsons.”
Only by reflecting the cultural landscape at the turn of the century in a truthful way did Munch make his work universal, tapping into our collective psyche. An Expressionist, he captured the epitome of the modern condition, conveying the underlying anguish and fear of what was to come. In 1895, the world was changing rapidly, starting the wheels in motion that brought us to today. The writing was on the wall for those who were willing to read it.
We at CBX believe in decoding – understanding the MEANING behind an image, what it stands for, what feelings it elicits. Only when we understand that, can we leverage this meaning and be purposeful in our visual choices.
So, how best to represent a brand? Word or Image? Deep question, but I think the answer is clear.