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Published in Branding category on (11/13/2012)

Events as Brands: Creating the Experience

super-bowl-xlvi-process-sc433x-t1328124362.jpegA Bruce Springsteen concert or E-Street cover band at the local dive bar? The epic, high-energy performances The Boss is known for can’t be truly reproduced even if “Born to Run” is being performed by lifelong devotees and talented musicians in their own right. Lauded events have an enviable reputation that sells them – you have to experience a Springsteen concert to truly understand the glory of it. And most people who believe in a brand are certainly willing to pay for the high quality it promises.

Honest, consistent branding helps a consumer trust your event’s offerings, and develops that all-powerful brand loyalty. But there is more to an event as a brand than just having an attendee recognize your logo, tagline, or affiliated celebrity. You want to create a visceral reaction in your event-goers that keeps them coming back for more.

Ask yourself what emotions you want your event to evoke in attendees. How do you want your attendees to interact with your brand throughout your event, as well as before and after it? How do you want people to perceive your event?

Here’s how to begin creating the experience:

Name Your Brand, Then Socialize It
One of the first things parents-to-be do is discuss what their child’s name will be – after all, it will define them for life. The same goes for your event. Are you aiming for strong or sweet? Trendy or unique? If your event name can be shortened is it an appropriate and desirable abbreviation?

Memorable is good when it comes to the name of an event – so instead of “The Fourth Annual Fireman’s Ball and Charity Auction for Downtown Detroit,” a more sellable moniker might be “Fire Up Detroit!” You can always create a more detailed subhead for your event.

Register a domain name so people can easily find your site and all related details, then get to work on your event’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. People communicate online, through their smartphones, iPads, laptops. Create hash tags and get people retweeting them. Engage your audience on the most relatable level, and encourage questions, suggestions, and feedback.

Color Your Brand
Apple has an intuitive, recognizable logo – the sight of that fruit is enough to satisfy plenty of consumers and convince them to buy every new product that rolls out. But, if you ask these customers why they support Apple, it’s likely they won’t just say it’s because they recognize the trademark icon. They know they’re getting a superior quality product, their money is being used wisely, and they trust that their data will be safe.

Branding is more than a sleek logo. Your image as a whole has to be memorable – capitalize on the visual element through a great emblem, but also a website with a corresponding color palette. You’re building a professional brand identity that clearly defines what your brand represents. You want to create a visual trigger that automatically makes people know an event belongs to you, and what they’re going to get from it.

Give Your Event Character and Charm
This is where the meat of the “event as an experience” comes into play. Your event’s personality should reach and resonate with attendees on all levels – mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially.

The mental and emotional elements are what attendees register without even thinking about it – and it’s what they remember. This is literally their experience. For example, “I’ll never go to their event again. The check-in line was out the door, I didn’t even have one minute between sessions to check my email and scarf down a snack.” Or, “I can’t wait to go back to that event again – every single person working there was so nice and helpful!”

The physical element of your event is within your control. Pick the right venue! Is it big enough, comfortable enough, clean enough, well-maintained, and appropriate for your event’s needs?

The sociability of your event can be enhanced by modern event-planning platforms that offer built-in appointment-matching. People go to events to glean new information for their business needs, but they also go to interact with like-minded folks, meet fresh contacts and potential customers or partners, and network with their peers.

Make Sure There’s a Perk
You’re shopping online – the product you want is available on two different sites. Do you go with the site that offers free shipping and a free gift too? Or do you go with the site that only offers free shipping? It may seem like a small perk, but the getting-something-extra-for-nothing idea is a no-brainer. What does your event offer that sets it apart from a competitor?

For example, perhaps early registrants get a discount on their registration fee and one free night if they stay at a hotel you recommend. Or make it a perk for your attendees as well as a profit for your event: Pay an extra $100 and the registrant gets to attend a mini-forum with the keynote speaker (who just happens to be a celeb or major figure in your field). People love hobnobbing with a VIP and feeling like a VIP themselves.

Just make sure whatever perk you implement sets you apart from your competitors. Don’t mirror them or try to one-up them. Do your own thing and make it unique so your event experience will be one that attendees are clamoring to enjoy.

Take Control of Your Brand
Event branding isn’t pure science, but it does take a calculated strategy to hit at the mind and heart of attendees. You want to impress and be memorable while creating an experience that people will want to take part in again and again.

Event branding and marketing can be made more effective and consistent when incorporating an end-to-end event technology solution.  Learn more about Certain’s event management platform which helps you enhance your brand through safe and secure online registration, sophisticated appointment matching, and more.

Download your copy of The Event Professional’s Guide to Branding.

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