Brands win because brands matter.
There’s a good reason why Coke outsells Generic Cola and store-brand toilet paper undersells Charmin. It’s about the brand. And this rule doesn’t just apply to mega brands; it also applies to your event—big or small as it may be.
An event can be known, trusted, and preferred by attendees, or it can be relegated to the bottom shelf, fighting for what’s left of an attendee’s time and money. Make no mistake; it’s not easy to build a strong event brand. A proliferation of competitors, fragmentation of media and markets, limited budgets, and other pressures make it hard to break through the clutter.
Here are five proven ways to build a stronger brand for your event:
1. Give it a proper name
How you reference your event will send an immediate message to sponsors and attendees about how you want the event to be perceived. Think about the difference between “Annual Snack Food Industry Trade Show” and “SNAXPO” or between “Microsoft Dynamics User Conference” and “Convergence 2013” or “Salesforce.com Annual Conference” and “Dreamforce.” While a name alone won’t send your event off the charts, it can become the basis from which a strong brand can be built.
2. Give it a good look
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but the truth is; people do. Depending on your event, “beauty” may not be essential but the right look is important. There are simply too many other professional-looking events out there to have yours looking homely or homemade. Hire a professional designer to create an identity for your event brand that matches the personality you’re hoping to portray. Reflect that identity across every touch point.
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3. Make it unique
The success of your meeting or event depends on how well you’re able to separate it from alternatives. Take a close look at your direct and indirect competitors and clearly define your points of difference in terms that matter to your target audience. Best them with your own unique offerings.
The worldwide event, Ignite, is a great example of a well-branded event. The event is unique in that presenters at the events have just five minutes to enlighten the audience with. They are given a maximum of 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds to keep each presentation in line with the time limit. This unique format helps to set the event part from others. The tagline, “Enlighten us, but make it quick” further accentuates this unique brand.
4. Be engaging
Look at your event more as an “engagement” than a one-way one-time occurrence. Meetings and events, at their very core, are about interacting with others. Make your event a conduit for interactions with and among attendees before, during, and after the event. Don’t be afraid of dialogue – in fact, encourage it. Utilize social media, build an event community, create a LinkedIn group or Google+ hangout, build a Facebook page, and make good use of Twitter hash tags. Be a facilitator, and a joiner, and watch preference for your brand grow.
5. Be consistent
Brand loyalty is driven by consistency and trust. Strong brands are reliable. In creating the perception of trust and reliability, think about every touch point your brand will have with attendees. From registration to the event website, email invitations to scheduling reminders, mobile apps to social media, on-premise signage, you name it, you can brand it. With consistency, people will come to quickly recognize your logo, name, color scheme, tag lines, and connect it with your overall event message, whatever that may be.
It’s not what you say. It’s what they say.
As so fittingly stated in the book, The Brand Gap, event marketers are wise to remember that a brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is. You’ll know you’ve done a good job when your idea of your brand is the idea that is reflected back when attendees, sponsors, and partners refer to your event.