The Reality of Branding An Event
The abundance of information that exists around branding is overwhelming. Advertising and branding are terms that are becoming nearly synonymous. Reference an article on branding and you’ll see that the term “branding” has inconsistencies. Is it the logo and the color scheme? Or is it an emotional evaluation of a product or service? So, seriously, what is branding? The content that’s available online may be hard to decipher and even harder to put into practice. This is particularly the case when it is being applied to events. So what is it and how is it done? Allow me to (attempt) to clarify some things for you.
WHAT IS EVENT BRANDING?
In our world (and probably others, but we'll focus on the events industry), a brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. Branding is based on emotion.
“A brand is not what you say it is. A brand is what they say it is.”- Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Content Marketing, Frost Miller Group
BRANDING An Event?
As we just mentioned, branding is based on emotion. Though the task of swaying emotions in people is a very large one, it's not enough to let it lie and become its own.To appeal to emotions, you must create trust. Even if you don't brand the event, that doesn't mean your event doesn't have a brand. In order to better have an influence on the perceptions of your event, you must be proactive in your efforts.
When people are pelted with marketing messages over the course of the day (over 4,000!), the challenge lies in making your brand stand out. What you’re really trying to do is prove value. Before making a purchase, people need to be exposed to a marketing message 8-10 times. Audiences are naturally skeptical of the marketing messages that they see. In the past, the goal was to advertise to as many potential attendees as possible. This is no longer true; the sales funnel has flipped, and we see marketing efforts are directed to audiences that will find the most value in the event.
VISION AND MISSION
An event is not a one man show. Every facet of the events team from the organizer to the exhibitors, help desk attendants to the presenters; everyone has to understand the mission and vision of the event. An overall belief of the value being delivered to attendees will present itself through the staff and thus be imparted to attendees.
Achieving business goals is pertinent to the continued success of your event. Instilled since we were young, “it’s good to have goals.” And that remains true as an event professional. Creating a branded event is a step in the process to meeting your business objectives. When your team has a clear understanding of the goals and objectives, it filters through to attendees.
Tagging onto the aforementioned, sales are a critical part of the events process. Whether you're looking to increase attendance, exhibit sales, or sponsorships, having a successfully branded event is an integral part of supporting the value.
As an event organizer, your job is to bring people together, to cultivate relationships. We’ve seen the headlines; people think the events industry will die with the advent of improved VR technology and live-streaming. We think not. We’re here to facilitate the building of those relationships and to create our own within the industry.
HOW TO DO IT
Whether your event is being built from the ground up or you're in the process of planning the umpteenth annual, the process remains the same. However, it is important to note that it isn't enough to cross things off the list. Branding an event is an ongoing process.Be consistent. Be present. Be active. Be motivated.
Understanding the market you’re entering/in is the most important part of this process. Understand who your audience is both current Know what people are saying about your event. The existing perception of your event is going to be the biggest hurdle to jump.
How do you want your event to be perceived by possible attendees? Is your event focused on information heavy sessions? Do you promote a unique experience found nowhere else? Or to you facilitate the building of professional relationships through a strong emphasis on networking?
More than just planning the logistics, this is creating a strategy for the experience that you want attendees to have. Maximize on attendee engagement with an event website that is engaging long before the event, craft your marketing timeline with direction.
It’s time to put it into play. To later evaluate the successesor missteps after the event, develop a plan for data collection and analysis.
Compare the successes of the event with your original business objectives. What were attendees saying via social media during your event? With the amount of information that can be received at an event (check-in times, lull times, session attendance, and much more) you can fine-tune each aspect of the event for the following year.
Though something was successful the year before, it may be outdated the year following. Just as people evolve and develop different habits and likings, so will the landscape of the events industry. Ensure that your brand can shift and meld with current trends.
In order to promote your brand, you must first have a brand. Be proactive in your branding efforts and strive to prove the value that your event offers stakeholders, exhibitors, and attendees. Set a tone and a promise and then deliver on that promise. When you can do this successfully, previous attendees will become evangelists for the event.
If you would like to know more on branding your event, check out this very insightful and inspiring webinar that was presented by TSNN. And let us know if you have any comments or suggestions on how to brand an event!