The appearance of events changed exponentially after March 2020 when companies moved live events to virtual spaces. Regardless of whether your event is online or in person in the coming year, event branding is essential to deliver a memorable experience for attendees.
For example, when I got to Adobe MAX 2020, the virtual event felt as close to a personal experience as possible. The opportunity to learn from experienced speakers has motivated me and made me feel connected to the company.
This is no surprise as 91% of people have positive feelings for a brand after attending events. But unforgettable experiences do not happen by chance – they are the result of well thought-out event branding.
Whether you’re planning an upcoming virtual conference or an outdoor meeting, it’s important to consider the branding behind your event. You want to take into account the values and essence of your company and still design a unique brand for events that stands out from the crowd.
To host an event that will excite your audience and make a real impact on your business, here are some things to keep in mind. First … well what is it?
What is event branding?
Like a corporate brand, event branding is made up of many elements including a logo, website, app, marketing materials, stage design, speakers, sponsors, and event loot.
Some elements are similar to a company’s brand, but the event brand has to stand on its own. Think about how branded events – like Dreamforce, INBOUND, or 29Rooms – are separate and yet related to the companies hosting the events. This is possible with a combination of on-site branding (i.e. banners, stands, set design, and loot) and digital branding (i.e. website, imagery, and marketing).
It is important to note that event branding is part of event marketing, but it requires its own skills and strategies.
The key to a well-attended event is making your branding cohesive and recognizable, as consistent branding has increased sales by 33%. Beyond having a well-designed branding plan, you need to promote the event, create memorable moments for attendees, and know how to measure success. If you can achieve all of this, you will benefit from a well-marked event.
Benefits of event branding
Think about the best event you attended. You can probably imagine the people you met, the food, the speakers, and even the after parties. The branding of an event affects how everyone involved – speakers, attendees, staff, and sponsors – remember the experience.
For example, in a session at the Adobe MAX event, I demonstrated how to use new functionality in my Lightroom mobile app. I only learned this skill because Adobe selected speakers who would add value to the audience. They also had a presenter who shared instant takeaways. And they sent me a follow-up email with the recorded session in case I needed to refresh my memory afterward.
I am now following this particular speaker on Instagram and even renewing my Adobe subscription after attending the event. Yes, I knowingly fell into the flywheel.
The point is, a branded event can help generate leads, build loyalty and credibility, and offer support. Participants are more likely to get involved with your brand promise (and possibly your product or service) if you deliver a valuable experience.
So if you do your job well, people will have a good experience – which creates positive emotions – and become clients or lawyers for your brand.
5 event branding ideas
Creating a unique brand that resonates with your audience is about creating a story that you and your attendees will tell. That is why successful event branding carries a message at every point of contact. Check out these examples of well-planned events around the world for inspiration on how to tie your event together.
A website is the center of an event and therefore has to create the conditions for the brand. Here you can exchange information on the purpose, dates, registration, speakers, sponsors, goods and frequently asked questions about the event.
It should be easy to navigate and get people to sign up. That is exactly what the TechCrunch Disrupt website does. It’s straightforward, yet effective. And the no-nonsense branding is geared towards the modern style of innovative tech companies.
Every event planner’s nightmare is poor attendance. Take the time to market the event with social media posts, emails, and ads to make sure your event is going well. Read the ultimate guide to event marketing to learn more about the details.
For event branding, make sure your messages and images are coherent across all channels. You want to give your audience multiple ways to get to know your event, sign up for it, and share it.
The # follow20 Design Festival is a great example of how consistent branding can help people recognize an event both online and in person.
A solid marketing plan is nothing without a consistent design. This includes colors, logos, typography, photography, graphics, loot, posters, and set design. Studio Hybrid Design coordinated Pinterest’s Knit Con 2019 perfectly with lively, thoughtful details that combined the values and creativity of the Pinterest team.
Event swag seems unnecessary as virtual events take over face-to-face meetings. But that’s not entirely true. The PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) estimates that promotional products are the most effective form of advertising across all generations and that over 80% of promotional products have been used for more than a year.
While branded products have come under fire for environmental damage, unsustainable loot isn’t the only option these days. Digital gift cards, online training badges, free software, and charitable donations are all environmentally conscious freebies.
The trick is to find a loot that suits your brand. So don’t buy stress balls and stickers when hosting a tech conference. SXSW is a great example of choosing merch that is reusable and relevant to the event brand.
Video marketing has grown in recent years, and the pandemic has increased the need for videos more than ever. Wyzowl found that the pandemic had an impact on how much video content 68% of consumers watched online, with 96% reporting an increase.
For event branding, the INBOUND video shown below strikes a balance between sharing event recaps, highlighting speaker sessions, and highlighting brand values.
Branding of outdoor events
Outdoor events can be a great alternative to virtual events. This type of event is ideal for networking meetups, company picnics, award shows, or festivals. And when you take the right safety precautions, participants will feel safe and enjoy the hard work you put into the experience.
There are a few things to keep in mind when planning outdoor event branding. Depending on the time of year and location, you may need to weatherproof the event. Signs and banners have to withstand the conditions, and people need a place where they can escape the heat, cold or rain.
Take advantage of these outdoor quirks to create unique branding moments. Set up lots of small group spaces for people to interact with your brand. To keep people socially distant, consider branded floor decals to mark the correct spacing or give groups of different colored bracelets to encourage people to stick together.
Thanks to creative thinking and intelligent branding, Seltzerland 2020 organized successful outdoor events. The organizer of the Seltzerland, Kate Levenstien, requested that the events be moved to recently opened golf courses.
She followed local COVID restrictions, brought dozens of beverage manufacturers on board, ordered loot, and conducted test runs to verify the safety of every seat on the course. The result? Nine successful outdoor events in the US during a year of rolling lockdowns.
When planning your next event, keep in mind that event branding is more than a logo and company colors. Designing a well-thought-out brand for your event not only ensures that it resonates with your company, it also makes it easier for your audience to engage and let everyone leave with valuable information. There is nothing better to attend next year than having an unforgettable experience that everyone wants to share.