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Don’t put the Event before the Brand

As the old saying goes…”don’t put the cart before the horse”…well, we are here to tell you that as silly as this sounds, most corporate events miss a critical opportunity to live their brand, culture and story out loud.  Every corporate event, whether it is a sales conference, customer appreciation, incentive trip, board meeting, trade show, etc. should all carry the theme of the brand throughout a period of time.  Industry statistics suggest that 85% of events are “brandless” or at least without a coherent theme/message that ties all components of an event together.  The primary goal of an event is to have your attendees leave the event as “fans” of the organization—whether they are employees, customers or vendors.

It is incumbent on the marketing team to communicate with the actual event producer as to what the 3 primary take-aways will be.  Keep it simple and limit it to three–not some laundry list of objectives that no one will be able to remember or connect with.  Start with the end in mind and build the brand from there.

Remember the story of “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss?  The entire story is based on an obstinate character that refused to try something new.  By way of Dr. Seuss’s convincing prose, he eventually tried the combination and realized he actually liked it.  The point here is that you have to deliberately recognize and seize every opportunity to communicate the value of your organization and have attendees walk away saying “I Get It!”

Here are 5 quick tips to help you build a successful brand around your event

Select the right venue.  Don’t go where everyone else goes (Las Vegas, Orlando, NYC, Phoenix).  Start by selecting a venue that punctuates your event.  Somewhere people wouldn’t typically think of going or that seems out of context.  Try Tucson, Cleveland, Huntington Beach, Seattle, Portland, Denver, etc.  Pick a property that has the right personality for the group.  Don’t be afraid to use an independent hotel with character.

Logistics are a commodity.  Whether you plan your events internally or hire an outside agency, executing flawless logistics are like the oxygen you breathe.  This is just a simple expectation.  I really don’t pat people on the back, just because the pulled off the basics.   Be looking for remarkable.  The brand and story you create around your event will be what distinguishes it from the thousands held each year around the globe.

Be specific and take stock.  Take your organization’s mission and goals for the year and derive a theme that communicates the essence of that statement.  For example, if speed to market is the number one goal, you might want to call your event the NOW Conference.  Once your name is selected and logo is created, you can then look to every possible touch-point within the event as a means to drive this message home.

Touch-points.   This is where you can really have fun.  Look towards any aspect of your event to create an environment that speaks of the event brand and ways to communicate the message.  For example, have custom wrapped candy and snacks at the hospitality desk with the logo…create door hangers for everyone’s guest room that has a fun DND and Please Make Room on it using the language around your brand…make each evening event a tie in to the overall message…get your executives on board so they can have fun and show their sense of humor in front of the crowd…the bottom line is be disruptive and punctuate as many moments with your message in an engaging and relevant manner.

Build Brand Equity.  Now that your attendees have experienced maximum impact with your event and the brand related to it, you can repurpose the event brand with innovative enhancements for next year’s event.  The only challenge is to make sure you deliver on the inherent promise you created through producing an extraordinary event with impeccable brand applications.


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