Powerful Event Branding
In my first blog post on Event Branding I looked at the need to be strategic when considering your event branding. I focused on the event brand which spreads across many events and also the event department brand. If you haven’t read that blog I suggest you start there. However if you want to dive into this one go for it! In this, the second of three posts on event branding, I will look at how to create individual event brands.
More than a logo…….but the logo is important
Branding is so much more than the logo! However the logo is an exceptionally good place to start when we take an initial look at the idea of event branding. The logo is the shop window for your event. In an exceptionally crowded market place a logo can help you stand out. We recently supported a blog for PA’s “Practically Perfect PA” in creating their event. Here’s their logo.
It is a brand new event so we decided that they needed a strong brand. And we started with the logo.
But before you brief your designer to get creative with that new logo something comes first: the name of the event. So let’s look at what you can do to create more powerful event brands.
Drop the “annual conference / congress”
For many organisations their flagship event is the “annual conference or congress”. It always has been and it always will be! The event logo and title sits alongside the organisation’s logo often proudly next to something like “The 67th” Annual Congress.
Now there is obviously power in longevity; that’s why you see many brands with “Est. 1921” for example. But in terms of a dynamic and creative brand for your event this doesn’t tick many boxes. However the bigger issue for me is that the “ACME Annual Conference” or the “Teachers Association Annual Congress” isn’t really a stand alone brand.
With the “annual conference / congress” moniker the organisation is effectively hand holding the event and by doing so it will be restricting its’ movements. When we do this the event:
– will struggle to develop its own identity (and true brand identity)
– is unlikely to be perceived as innovative or dynamic
– will struggle to really challenge the organisation or the industry
Suggesting that an organisation drop the title (especially once you are past the 20th edition) can be really difficult. However I believe that creating a stand alone powerful event brand will achieve more of the organisations goals as well as allow the organisation to develop a better event. The name is very, very important.
A brand is easier to sell
While at the Council of Mortgage Lenders I changed the “CML Annual Conference” to “The Mortgage Industry Conference and Exhibition”. One of the main reasons was to create an event that would – if it came to it – be easier for the CML to sell to a commercial event company or publisher. If the CML ever needed to raise much needed cash this would be a viable option. To give you some context this was during the credit crunch so the CML had to look at ways to ensure the survival of the organisation. I suggested that a title of “MICE” would allow them to develop a much stronger product. It would allow the CML to position the event as a “product” not totally linked to the CML. It was still regarded by members as a CML Annual Conference but it now had a slightly different appearance to a potential suitor. It was a view shared by the commercially savvy Director General at the time. Here’s the logo:
The CML Annual Conference has now “rebranded” as the Annual Conference once gain dropping the “Mortgage Industry Conference and Exhibition” in 2013. No doubt the organisation has changed significantly since 2009 but I must admit to being disappointed to see that MICE had been exterminated. At least, I suppose, they haven’t added “The 13th Edition”!
Live and kicking
During my time supporting the British Dietetic Association we rebranded their annual conference “The British Dietetic Annual Conference”, changing the name to “BDA Live” and adding the lovely logo below.
BDA LIVE is, I am very pleased to say, still alive and kicking. We created “BDA Live” from the remains of the rather toxic “BDAC”. The event in 2011, like many association events, ran at a loss. The BDA questioned the very purpose of the event. “BDAC 2012” didn’t take place as it was judged just too risky and there was the distinct possibility that the BDA would never have a flagship event.
So with this challenge ahead and a clear need from the BDA board to have a flagship event we needed to totally rebrand the event. We did so much more than change the logo and the name of course. But the logo and the name are important. In my final pst on branding I will expand on what event planners need to do to create a “brand” on top of the name and the logo. As I alluded to it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THE NAME AND THE LOGO.
Once we decided how the format would change we settled pretty quickly on the name. The format of the event was very different from the previous flagship events and we needed something that would demonstrate that this was a different event. BDA LIVE it became.
I would suggest that the addition of “Live” can really inject some energy into your event name. It’s then down to you and your team to back that up with a energetic event.
Event branding, the same but different
There certainly is power in amending your logo year on year. Below you will see how our event Tech Fest’s logo has developed in the last two years. We very much went with the same but different approach. When building a brand it is very important to build on a solid foundation. Keeping the logo similar but making subtle changes allows the foundations to be set in concrete rather than shifting sand.
The power of a theme
In our previous post we mentioned the power of a strap line when creating or amending a brand. You know, the “Just Do It” or “Every Little Helps”, or in the case we used as an example “Create. Innovate. Inspire”, well the same can be said of a theme for your event.
We’d like you to look again at the Tech Fest logos above. Both events have, as well as a strong and simple logo, a theme. This theme can be built upon in your other event branding. Again we will cover this in detail in a later post. But for the moment the point I want to make is that a theme can be a very strong way to set up and differentiate your event.
It is interesting that the vast majority of events that I see do not build on a particular theme. This is an opportunity missed in my opinion.
Flexibility and fun
Creating a brand allows, well actually demands, that you be creative. This tends to mean that you will be free to have more fun with your event. We love what Practically Perfect PA has done with their event. They avoided the temptation to run the “PPPA Annual Conference” instead creating a very strong brand. And one that the female staff and mainly female audience will no doubt have fun with!
It’s literally in the name
The event which we have had the most branding fun with has been “WhoStoleMyAudience?”. We must have taken over a month to come up with the title. We knew what content we wanted to cover and we knew we wanted to run a creative event. We decided very early on that a “creative event” needed a creative name. We settled on WSMA?
We knew that many event companies were seeing their event attendances fall. Supported by our consultancy work we could see that many organisations simply didn’t know why their numbers were down. They had no idea were their audience was going! And they did not know who stole it? We do. So we turned that into an event.