When we think about an event, we think of the product itself — the final destination after many months, sometimes years, of planning and preparation. We think about the education, the exhibits, the networking with fellow attendees, but that is only half of it. As event producers, we must think about all these things, while also focusing on the who and the how. Who are the event attendees and how do we promote all the aspects of our show to connect with that audience?
Defining the audience is key in creating a brand personality for your event, and it’s the first step in the process. Let’s picture an event as a gathering place where you want to position your show as a trusted industry expert pertaining to a specific community, and even an extension of it. Once you have your industry, focus the microscope a little closer to establish key demographic details. What is the average age range of your audience? How do they communicate with each other, with casual language or formal? Where, digitally, do they gather? If your audience is comprised of Gen Z young adults, you may want to brush up on your internet humor and TikTok skills. If you’re trying to draw a more experienced generation of academics or professionals, LinkedIn might be your focus. Once you’ve established where your audience can be found and the way they connect and communicate with each other, translate that into your brand’s unique voice.
Creating Your Event’s Brand Voice
It’s time to stop thinking about your event or service as inanimate and start thinking about it as a persona — a character who would be a part of your desired community. Your character may have a sense of humor in their writing if your audience does, or they may be technical and informative in their language. Perhaps it’s somewhere in between. Your brand’s voice is this character and should be incorporated into every written aspect of your event’s brand across website, social media, graphics and ads, even onsite signage. Personality and branding are everything for today’s consumers and will help create a vivid image and understanding of what your event is and who it’s for.
Visualizing Your Event’s Brand
Once you’ve established your audience and your voice, what does that look like? These aspects should affect all other details of the brand, from your name to your colors to the imagery used. Is your voice light and fun? Then the name of your event should be short, snappy, trendy and, perhaps, leave a little to the imagination to be mysterious but also desirable.
For example, if your persona is catering to, say, Gen Z-ers, those audiences tend to be more drawn to clever and creative branding than to the details. Draw them in first with a clever name and captivating imagery, then hit them with specifics. An example of this would be MCI Strategic Events, Meetings & Incentives’ (SEM&I) Investment and Management Partnership event Lift & Co. The name is short, trendy, and offers an enticing air of mystery. When catering to a more professional-oriented, experienced audience, you may want to start with the specifics. That trait should be reflected in your name as something longer yet to the point and informative. An example of this would be MCI SEM&I’s Strategic Event Management client OCEANS Conference & Exposition. The name reflects exactly what it is but also changes year after year to reflect additional details: OCEANS 2022 Hampton Roads.
To select your brand’s color palette, you will need to research your industry and competitors. Certain colors are reflective of various industries on an allegorical and symbolic level, often associated with moods and elements of technology and nature. To better understand this, research color symbolism to select the best colors to represent the emotions and story you want your brand to convey. Brainstorm how you can use these colors and their connotations to your advantage and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
When getting started selecting a brand palette, create a mood board of visuals that are reflective of your company persona and industry. Choose stock photos that convey the emotions you want your audience to connect to. Then take this mood board image and upload it to Adobe Color Wheel under the Extract Theme tab. This tool will take your photo collage and pick out coordinating colors from it, offering you sample brand palettes. This is an excellent way to form ideas of what you want your color palette to look like based on the mood and visual story you wish to convey.
No matter your industry or audience, you’ll always want to see how you can be timelier and more relevant than your competitors. In terms of colors and visuals, you should always be aware of what is on trend. If your audience is not aware of branding trends, then you can almost guarantee your competitors might not find trendiness to be a priority, but it will certainly set you apart and could even help draw additional audiences outside your longstanding demographic.
Current trends we are seeing with branding across all products and services are:
Brand personality is key and a significant means of better connecting to your audience and drawing them in, inspiring brand loyalty and a community centered around your event. As event marketers, we want to show our attendees that we understand them and that we are one of them. Connect to your audience as a peer, and you will gain their trust while also positioning yourself as an industry leader in your field and a highly valued event in the desired community. Show your difference and the humanization behind the message, and the tickets will sell.
Juliana Pearce is a marketing specialist in MCI USA’s Strategic Events, Meetings & Incentives business unit. She has been with MCI for three years and continues to develop marketing materials, campaigns, and creative content for both SEM&I event clients and MCI. She is based out of the Dallas office. In her free time, she loves to explore creative writing, photography, travel, and cooking.
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