Event Branding 101: Why It Matters and How to Do It

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared.

It’s another year and you’re gearing up for your convention. You’ve established the nitty-gritties—who, what, when and where—and you’re ready to put your request for proposal (RFP) together and wait for the great ideas to come rolling in. But before that RFP gets the stamp of approval, make sure you ask your potential production partners this tough question: How will you incorporate the theme of our event?

The same way you or your marketing department has painstakingly branded your company, a great production partner can take your theme and create an event brand that can be used in multiple ways throughout your convention or incentive trip. 

Three Reasons Why It’s Important

Branding Is the Backbone

The way your company brand distinguishes you from competitors and makes you recognizable, an event brand can do the same. Your event logo—the star of your brand—can incorporate your current company branding, including colors, taglines, shapes and imagery, and make the event special for attendees. When they see it on your company website and social media, they’ll instantly recognize the event and get excited about attending, and they’ll be more interested in sharing it and getting others excited too.

Attendees expect big takeaways from events—they are giving up their time and they want to be inspired. Your event brand will create the anticipation of attending, drive engagement during the convention and encourage the lasting excitement needed to carry your message through the next year.

Using It in Social Media Can Drive Engagement

Branding your event also gives you the opportunity to promote your event across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your company’s website to get attendees excited and engaged. Your event brand unites your message and your theme into one powerful tool. Think of it as the flowing thread that connects all of the parts of your event into one cohesive, recognizable convention. Once you have that, it can be incorporated into all sorts of event materials, including social media posts.

You can use it pre-convention in online invites and event cover pages. Don’t underestimate how impactful short sneak peeks on social media can be. Use it onsite during your convention to create fun things like step-and-repeats, way-finding signage, entrance signage and event décor. Take advantage of those onsite photo-ops and encourage attendees to post with your event hashtag. Those who couldn’t be there will get a taste of what they’re missing, and for incentive events, it gets the excitement going to earn that trip the next time around.

It’s an Opportunity to Carry Your Message Forward

Missing the opportunity to brand your event can make it hard to communicate your theme, make your messaging less impactful and make the event seem thrown together. A logo and brand translated creatively into presentation themes, set design, way-finding signage, animations, video production and swag make the event memorable and leave attendees with a coherent message they can take back with them, keeping them energized and inspired.

Additionally, the more meaningful you make your theme and the more consistent your message and brand, the more you can trust that what makes your company and people special will be shared accurately and often throughout the next year.

You might be thinking, “Great! I can just download a branding checklist and do this myself!” Well, that’s true, but branding is complex and it’s a service worthy of investment. Working with a professional will give you access to someone with training in design and brand identity. Someone who understands the intricacies of picking the right colors and patterns and how to include your current branding and logo into your event branding. And working with an event partner that can offer production support as well as design support will make integrating that brand throughout your event a seamless—and less stressful—affair.

Partnering with your production company on the creation of this brand will also make your event more impactful. Relying on your production partner will bring planning and execution into one full-service partnership, giving you professional staging and professional design from one trusted source. As design elements are created, they can be immediately integrated into your production, including unique ways of taking elements of your theme and brand and incorporating them into the design of your set.

Once you decide to seek full-service production services, don’t forget to start early so that you have time to utilize your logo and event materials to their fullest potential in invitations, social media posts, posters and event swag bags.

How to Make It Happen

So how does this process work? Just like for your company, your event brand will start with your theme and messaging and evolve from there. Usually the first step is to take your theme and turn it into a logo. Here’s the step-by-step process for how your production partner will make your logo a reality.

Step 1: Client Meeting

The process should always start with an initial meeting to discuss your theme, how you want to use your logo and to get information on must-have details. You could include this information in your RFP, provide a contact for answering questions, or allow meetings with potential partners to discuss the theme in further detail.

If you have a certain color-scheme or an image that you need included, your production company should be able to incorporate those elements into the logo.

Step 2: Research & Brainstorm

After you meet, your production partner should learn everything they can about your business and your theme—anything that might help that lightbulb moment. Then they should meet internally to share their ideas as a production team.

You’ll know when this process has been overlooked because the design or concept that’s delivered later won’t fit with your company’s current branding and it won’t resonate with the messaging of your event. A great production partner will put time and effort into this step.

Step 3: Concept, Sketch & Design

After your production company understands your business and your theme, they’ll take their ideas and create sketches of how they would look as a logo. The strongest sketches will get turned into your first round of logo designs.

Those designs will be scaled for use later and available to you in multiple formats so that the logo will look great on your website or in print.

Step 4: Present to Client

This is the most exciting step. Once the designs are finalized, you’ll meet again and see your first round of logo designs. At this stage, you’ll share feedback and either stop here or move back to Step 3 and start again. A great production partner will revise to your heart’s content and create a final logo that you love.

Things to consider when picking your final logo:

  • How would it look in different formats? If there are intricate pieces that will only look good onstage versus printed on swag, it might not be right for the setting. You’ll want to apply this throughout your event, so make sure you understand the ways you’ll want to use it before you settle on the perfect one.
  • Does it match or complement current branding colors? Most likely, there will be a scenario where your company logo and event logo are next to each other. If they aren’t complimentary or the event logo doesn’t adhere to brand standards—such as font size or that perfect shade of your company color—it will be distracting and less impactful.
  • Does it accurately communicate the theme? While the translation into a brand doesn’t need to be literal, think about the feeling or implication of the logo you pick and whether it communicates the right message about the event, the theme and the purpose
    of your event.

Step 5: Integrate

The last thing to do is to integrate your new logo throughout your event and start using it to promote or announce your sure-to-wow convention or incentive trip.

Get Branding

So as you begin to compile that next RFP, don’t forget to ask your potential event partner to show you how they’d turn your theme into a brand for your event. Your event brand is the backbone holding your event up—as a must-attend event for your consultants and as a standout in your industry. Branding will also drive your engagement and carry the excitement into the year ahead. 

A great event partner will research your current brand and what you stand for, help you incorporate that into a brand for your event and give you options so that it’s just right. Trusting this service to the professionals will free up your time to plan other things—like the tablescapes, menus, agendas, recognition presentations and all the other important touches that go into planning a flawless event.

Afton HolfingerAfton Holfinger is Assistant Controller at Bartha. Bartha is a leading provider of high-quality events, production and staging for the direct selling industry.

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