Mention the words Nike, Coca Cola, Toyota or McDonald’s, and most people quickly conjure up thoughts and feelings. That’s the power and purpose of branding: to get people to know and remember a company, product or service. More importantly, branding allows them to associate a personal feeling with the company. Having a brand that resonates with your audience is crucial to the success of every business. The same applies to every event.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder, CEO, President of Amazon.com, Inc.
What Exactly is Event Branding?
Like a company brand, event branding incorporates a group of physical items and ideas designed to generate thoughts, images and feelings that people will easily remember and associate with that event or series of ongoing events. Since the purpose and goals of every meeting, conference or series are unique, brand strategies should be developed to complement those goals. Equally important, the event should always incorporate the company’s brand. For example, when you see a single product’s brand, you typically see the company’s brand simultaneously (i.e.; iPhone and Apple). Since they’re related and promote each other, this co-branding of the company and the event should be applied to every event.
Keep in mind, after the initial event branding concepts are produced, event branding will need to be tweaked and refined over a long period of time to become fully established. And then, as with other marketing strategies, event branding will still need to be adjusted to adapt to ongoing cultural views and demographic changes. If you want it to remain successful, that is.
Primary Branding Goal: Leave Them Feeling
Event branding, (aka, your event brand or event brand management), is the special ingredient that helps make conferences and meetings successful. It builds excitement for a new event and makes past conferences memorable. Not only will event branding have significant impact on the success and attendance of future events, your event will stand out among the competition, provide support to and strengthen the event’s message. Because of that, event branding should be applied before, during and after the event, and to every event-related activity, whether physical or virtual.
The primary goal of event branding should be designing the branding strategy so attendees think beyond the products or services and focus on their overall event experience – how it made them feel. Obtaining customer adoption and loyalty today requires more than customer satisfaction, it requires an emotional attachment.
“Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
Howard Schultz, former Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Author
For example, one of Apple’s primary brand concepts is the importance of challenging the status quo by raising the bar of acceptable quality. Thus, Apple’s advertisements promote impressions of products that are “thoughtfully designed” with “well above average” technology. Most Apple customers appreciate and value high quality, therefore they relate well to this message and feel good when they purchase these products. If you attend an Apple event, you will certainly notice those concepts woven throughout the event.
To achieve the same emotional resonance at your event, you must think beyond logos, company colors and creative taglines. Ask yourself, does the business support a cause? Is it environmentally friendly? Does it benefit humanity, animals or something else of importance? Does it provide a helpful service or product? Is it philanthropic in nature? If not directly, are any of these items important to the company and its culture, and can they be included in the event to create an emotional resonance with the audience? If you can answer yes to one or several of these questions, incorporating the cause(s) into the event’s programming will leave positive emotional feelings with the attendees.
In Part 2, we’ll take a look at concrete ways to brand your event that create emotional resonance – and that every event should include.