In an age where digital messaging heavily influences the way we communicate, it should come as no surprise that in-person professional events continue to be a mainstay marketing solution for companies.
According to the 2018 Event Marketing Benchmarks Report that surveyed over 400 mid- to senior level event marketers, 95% of respondents state that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world (source).
The report also shows that most event marketers believe events are the single most effective marketing channel, taking the lead compared to digital ads, email marketing, and content marketing.
But of course, simply putting on a B2B marketing event does not ensure its success. Thoughtful strategizing must take place before any type of event success can be realized. This includes the creation and implementation of an event branding strategy. An event brand provides you with important vision and direction for your event—vision and direction that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
What is event branding?
The core definition of event branding is not dissimilar from other types of branding you’ve come across as a consumer. In essence, the event brand is the way in which an event will be perceived by attendees and potential attendees.
Establish your event brand by asking a few key questions:
- When people hear about your event, come across your event website, or even enter the event venue, how do you want them to think and feel?
- What emotions and value propositions do you want to instill when potential attendees learn about your event?
Asking and answering these types of questions will get to the core of what your event brand is all about.
Below are seven tips to establish the foundation of a memorable and trustworthy event brand. Let’s get into it!
1. Start with your event name.
Choosing a name for your event is a crucial first step toward establishing event branding. Think about it, your event’s name is the first piece of micro-content that attendees will forever associate with your event. Thus, event names should accurately reflect both the values and vision you had in mind for your event.
If you are creating a large scale event on behalf of a company, think of an event name that can stand on its own but is still a reflection of the parent company. Avoid event names that sound completely unrelated to the company as well as event names that are too dependent on the company brand.
An event name that strikes the perfect balance is Dreamforce. This annual mega-conference hosted by Salesforce is an ideal hybrid between a standalone event brand and an extension of the company brand. In fact, the first Dreamforce conference held in 2003 was meant to inform users of new product updates while also hosting presentations around the theme of “Imagination You Can Use.”
To establish long-term brand value for your event, choose a name that reflects the company mission but still differentiates itself as its own brand.
2. Create a standout event website.
Think of your website as the cornerstone of your event brand—it will likely be the first point at which people learn about your event. For this reason, your event website must be visually pleasing, contain valuable information regarding your event, and ultimately, it must convey everything your event brand stands for.
It’s imperative that all visual aspects of your event website, such as colors, fonts, and logos, are clean and consistent. Pay close attention to these design details and to effectively establish the visual representation of your event branding to website visitors.
It’s also important to pay close attention to your event value proposition as you create your event website. Visitors must immediately associate your event with specific lessons and key takeaways. Because of this, you must summarize any key information on the homepage to really drive those points home.
3. Launch on-brand email campaigns.
Another important channel through which attendees will experience your event brand is through email marketing campaigns. Your event brand’s tone could veer on the side of formal or fun in emails depending on your audience and company values. Switch up the emails you send, but remember to keep your voice consistent throughout your email marketing campaigns to effectively engage your audience.
For example: if a playful tone is a key component of your event branding, consider using timely gifs in your emails. The HubSpot marketing team did this very well by using a gif of an interview with Robert Kelly to encourage people to sign up for their event. The humor of the gif coupled well with the message, establishing a playful tone for the event brand.
4. Unify your social media presence.
As mentioned, event branding must always stand on its own, separate from your parent company brand. And one of the best ways to do this is to create social media profiles specifically for your event.
Most importantly, make sure your social media handles and hashtags remain consistent across campaigns. Not doing so will dilute your event brand and result in fragmented social media marketing initiatives. Make sure your team is fully aligned to prevent undercutting the momentum of event campaigns by using disparate messaging.
A good example of consistent social media presence is Content Marketing World, an annual conference held in Cleveland. They use the simple hashtag #CMWorld for consistency across campaigns and to inspire attendees to participate.
5. Solidify your theme.
Although the overall theme of your event is dictated by the subject matter at hand, you should still develop a secondary theme to tie all event components together.
Let’s look at an example: Social Media Marketing World is an annual conference that focuses on the social media space. Though social media is clearly the topic that ties the event together, the team at SMMW knew a more exciting theme would elevate their event brand. They chose to leverage the location of the conference, San Diego, and used the sunny beach weather as the unifying event theme.
Upon entering the convention center, attendees found the venue decorated with beach balls, palm trees, and surfboards. These small details all contribute to the waterfront theme. These details help to distinguish their event brand from other more conventional social media conferences.
6. Utilize an on-brand event app
An event app is an effective way for attendees to further engage with and experience your event brand. Popular event app features such as agendas, 1-to-1 messaging, and session registration should not feel like separate processes but rather an in-house experience that is tied together by your event brand.
For this reason, make sure whichever event app you choose is customizable. That way, it can communicate your event branding in a way that aligns with your other event touchpoints.
7. Measure the impact of your initiatives.
It’s important to note that an event brand is never final. Be sure to constantly edit and reiterate event branding based on any data or feedback you receive. Look into important engagement metrics to understand when and where your audience prefers to engage. Then, optimize the successful event marketing initiatives and re-strategize the strategies that underperform.
A good way to track the success of your event marketing efforts is to use an event software to oversee all related campaigns.
Final Takeaways About Event Branding Best Practices
Creating an event brand is not a simple task. But, if you adopt the right mindset, you are already halfway toward your goal. The above tips are meant to help you think about strategic event branding and apply them to your own events. The end result? An event that surpasses all marketing goals and exceeds the expectations of attendees.
Guest post contributed by Stephen Kim: Stephen is a Content Marketing Strategist at Bizzabo, the world’s most loved event software.