Event Branding Dynamics Are Changing
Successful events share a purpose and set values with their audience. One of the most effective ways to communicate that alignment is through branding. In the past, events looked to their parent entity or stakeholders to define the brand. Basic aesthetic style guidelines were followed, and naming conventions were simple, straightforward indications of who put the event on, where it was located, and maybe the year: something like “ULS women in law Awards 2019, Uganda law society’s 1st Biennial conference, “
While there is practicality there, events with their own brand identity are gaining momentum. To be ‘on brand’ now is less about wearing matching colors and having your parent organization’s name on every coaster.
Today, it is more about embodying the persona of the brand in everything you say and the values you communicate. As a result, it has become a much more powerful force in targeting, resonating with, and ultimately attracting an audience. Value-based decision making allows attendees to feel good about coming to your event and supporting your brand.
This coherent, branded message carried throughout the attendee journey has become an essential part of the event experience. In fact, failing to refresh your brand and ensure its alignment with your values and those of your target audience can have stagnating effects on your attendance.
Common Marketing Challenges and Signs Your Event Brand Needs a Refresh
Mere fonts and logos aren’t enough to produce and sustain the tight relationship desired by today’s event audiences. As it does for most of us, participating in something that has value is becoming a factor in their ROI considerations.
Communicating that value well is going to require more than fonts and logos. Here are some signs and symptoms that you might need to refresh your brand:
STAGNATION BEYOND MARKETING INFLUENCE
Stagnating registration/attendance despite investment in traditionally high-performing marketing practices (content marketing, lead nurturing, email lists, etc.) may indicate a disconnect or failure in value communication.
If the use of these best marketing practices are not affecting attendee numbers or registration, there is likely a disconnect with your brand and value proposition.
A LACK OF VALUE-BASED POSITIONING
If similar events with more value-based positioning and event-specific branding are seeing increases in sales or sellouts and you are not, you should take a page from their book. Analyze other events in the same industry, of the same size, or appealing to the same audience.
How are they communicating their values? What personality can you ascribe to their events, and how does that affect the audience they attract?
BRANDING WITH AN INEFFECTIVE FOCUS
If your brand and messaging emphasize the company affiliation and not the attendee experience, there is a disconnect and an inefficiency that is costing you, guests. While attendees may appreciate your company brand, an event requires a much more human side to trip guests’ attention. Even in situations where attendees make decisions based on the brand (an Apple event, for example), that loyalty springs from personified values they associate with the brand. It is the culture they love and respond to.
Undergoing a brand refresh requires deliberation and thought about the attendee experience, and undergoing some value-based decision making, which we will cover in the next section.
NO UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION
If the difference between your event and events in the same industry/vertical isn’t clear, focus on differentiating it through a value-based event brand. If you don’t, it can be difficult for potential attendees to do so on their own. You need branding and a strong marketing message to make it clear what you offer differently and why someone needs to go to your event as opposed to waiting for the next one like it.
Music festivals are a great example of this. They often run in a series with different locations, and the line-up appears at each one. If you’re running one leg of the series, you need to be able to communicate to the audience that your event is different and has a unique value, or you might be passing attendance to the next stop.
A DIVERGENT MISSION FROM THE PARENT ORGANIZATION
If your event is a product announcement or employee meeting, it makes sense to keep the branding tightly aligned with your company’s marketing. You want it to be recognizable and attributable to the larger entity, as these events are merely extensions or components of the company mission.
However, in the case of corporate social responsibility events and others where the mission is relatively independent of that of the parent company, the event branding should reflect that.
There are also times when an event that’s tightly aligned with the hosting organization — a user’s conference, for example — can still benefit from independent branding. If the goal behind the user’s conference is to showcase the foremost authorities for an industry or type of software, an education-focused brand for the event will help to add credibility, while a too company-centric brand for the event runs the risk of seeming too salesy or self-promotional.
complied By Kyereta, Digital Marketing adept Uganda