When you read the word “BRAND” what do you think of? Most likely you think of an actual brand like Amazon, Disney, Coca-Cola or Apple. You may not think of an event. But a brand is just as important for events as it is for any successful organization, maybe even more so. As more conferences, meetings, festivals, fundraisers, and other events are planned, the need to set each occasion apart becomes critical. This is more than just marketing, public relations or even selling tickets. It is branding.
Why is this important? Because when a strategic brand strategy is deployed, an event becomes more than an occasion. It becomes a living, breathing thing, capable of building meaningful relationships with attendees. Your event brand impacts engagement with your attendees. After all, your brand is your reputation, the foundation from which you are successful. It is also a promise. Your brand promises to meet the very specific expectations of your event attendees.
But an event brand is more than a logo and a name. It is a feeling or emotion held in the hearts and minds of all those engaged with your event. Just as Coachella has become the music festival of choice for many music lovers because of the unique integrated experience, your event can be THE choice in your industry if your brand is engaging in a way that makes attendees want to invest their time, talent and treasure into the experience.
So, how do you go about building a brand your event? It is a process of discovery more than creation. Your event planning team lives your brand every day. It is reflected in the experiences you provide, the benefits you offer, the lives you touch, and the values you embrace. You’ll know it when you see it.
Audit Your Stuff
First, do an audit of your existing event materials. Does your event have a mission statement, a written set of values, and a public relations boilerplate? Do you have a purpose or positioning statement? Do you use certain taglines or elevator speeches? Are there words or images that you always use or, conversely, never use in marketing materials, ads, or press releases? How are your event descriptions written? What information is on your event registration page? Are there certain types of speakers or performers that are always included in the experience? These elements are the raw materials you need to discover your event brand.
Gather Your Team
Gather your materials and an integral cross section of your core team and dive in. Review everything and talk about the words and images that are important to your event goals. Talk about how those words and images make you feel. Talk about how you want your event experience to impact your attendees. Go one step further and gather small groups of sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and past attendees to ask what words they would use to describe your event. Also ask how these critical partners would describe your event to someone who doesn’t know anything about it. Keep detailed notes and recordings of these conversations.
Document Your Discoveries
Begin documenting your event brand through these revelations. Ensure the brand you discover is reflected in everything you do at your event as well as before and after, including activities, marketing, sponsorship, food, and everything in between. Discovering your brand together will strengthen your
event planning skills as well as your competitive advantage. And it will resonate with your attendees because they will recognize the authenticity.
Share What You’ve Learned
Now, go forth and share your new event brand far and wide! This is the creative part. Make sure to amend your existing visual identity including your logo, color palette, fonts, and images to reflect your brand. Define your brand voice so that it is recognizable and approachable. Update your event ticketing website and your event management software to represent your brand. Modify your social media and all press releases as well. It’s important that you share a cohesive and clear brand message on all fronts.
Branding is integral to any event’s success because your brand is your reputation. A brand lives in your event DNA as a living, breathing embodiment of the experience. Have you discovered yours?