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Do I brand my event by location or theme?

Montreal hosted 76 international conventions in 2016, the most in all of North America! These events typically branded themselves based on one of two things: location or theme. In the early stages of planning your event, you need to decide what aspect will be most prominent in your pre-event branding campaign and your on-site design. It takes 5-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand. (click to tweet)

How will you choose to brand your event – by destination or by theme?

Event branding by destination

From sun-drenched locations to jungle adventures, branding by location is an attractive option. It gets people excited about the event because it highlights the exotic or interesting location it will be held in. The Email Design Conference clearly thought this was the best way to go when they elected to brand their events using stunning graphics of London, Boston, and San Francisco landmarks. Branding by location suits international conferences best.

Goal-oriented theme

What is your event’s mission? The goals you’re looking to achieve are great inspiration for an event theme. Themes such as “New State of Mine” and “Empower Future Generations” create a guiding principle that focuses your content and design and invites individuals with similar goals and principles to engage and convert. From here you can deepen your marketing strategies by identifying influencers who align with your values and inviting them to carry your brand message to their networks. With a great theme, both attendees and speakers will quickly understand your objectives and be on the same page.

Audience-oriented theme

What are some of the challenges that your industry is facing? What does your audience expect from the event? Let the attendees guide you in theme selection to ensure that your offerings are on the right track. South By Southwest takes this a step further by actually crowd-sourcing content for the event using what they call a PanelPicker.

Make a change

Do you need a re-design of core event branding elements? Consider the following questions from Convene magazine that can help identify whether changing elements such as the name, logo and programming style can improve your visibility and conversion: is event attendance growing 15% per year? Is at least 10% of your total industry attending? If it really is time for an event branding refresh, you can proceed confidently knowing that there are several success stories. For example, the National Association of Corporate Directors renamed their conference to the Global Board Leaders’ Summit and saw a 300% increase in attendance.

Logo no-go

Think about the logos that you know best. You immediately identify the company behind them. All of your opinions, impressions, and memories of the company are tied to the logo and are recalled when you see it. So why is it common practice to reinvent event logos year after year? Consistency is key to growing your brand value, which translates to more repeat attendees. Consider the CIM Convention, an event that alternates between Vancouver and Montreal. We ensured the Convention maintains a recognizable brand identity with only slight variations each year. The Convention URL was simplified through the removal of the destination component. The logo, which is an arrow, points West when Vancouver is hosting, and East when in Montreal, with brand colours alternating in accordance. With consistent event branding, you can keep all the brand recognition you worked so hard to cultivate!

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