Branding can make or break your event. It's something so important, but often an underutilized part of event strategy. When it's done right, it makes event planning that much easier.
I don't mean event branding like lighting, gobos, step and repeats, banners or logo placement. I don't even mean decor and theming. I'm referring to a top-to-bottom, beginning-to-end, cohesive experience that wows your audience and woos them to take action.
Much like consistently great content, your event branding needs to inspire, connect and convert prospects from the very first touch point until well after your attendees have left the building.
At Zynger Event Designs we like to think of it as taking our attendees on a journey in a natural (and unobtrusive) way. We create experiences that let customers sample and savor time with products that ultimately leads to taking action.
Particularly for fundraising events, think of your event branding as valuable as a product you sell or a service you provide. How do you want to position, promote and package it?
There are so many useful touch points during the event-planning process to tell the story of your brand. If your budget is small, use great copy and clear key messages and design in all your promotional materials. It's not a big-budget item, but can go a long way to positively impact your bottom line before the event's even begun.
Here's just some of the places where you can weave in a strong event branding experience:
- Save the Dates
- Teaser/promo emails
- Invitation piece (printed and via email)
- Confirmation emails
- Event website
- Press releases
- Social media channels
- Bloggers and influencer channels, and other people that help you promote the event
- Transport to the event (type of transport and onboard experience)
- The event itself (decor, colors, entertainment, MC, speakers, food and beverage)
- Social media sharing options at the event (photo booths, use of hashtags, aggregated hashtag display, sharing competitions)
- Silent auctions and donation stations
- Thank-you gifts and emails
- Online event photo gallery
- Emails with results and achievements from the event
- "What's happening next" email (keep your audience informed and added to the list for next year)
Event branding is a crucial component in your event planning bag of tricks and here's how to make it work for you:
1) A clear vision
Get clear on the overall vision of the event, how it ties into your bigger mission and what you want to communicate. Its purpose is the bring your larger mission to life. You can then break down the event and ensure you're telling a consistent story throughout the attendee's event experience.
2) Know your attendees
Get to know the psychographics of your attendee. The more you know about them, the better you can figure out what makes them tick, why their attending, and what will motivate them to share, post, like, buy, donate or fund your product or service. What do they value, what's important to them, what are their biggest frustrations and how does your event help? If you don't already know, a simple survey can help.
3) Emotionally engage through stories
How can you showcase what you're selling/promoting in a unique way in your environment? If your event is to raise money for a specific cause like 'Water Conservation' for example, instead of overusing your corporate logo, why not showcase the many ways water makes life possible? Through inspiring images of water in nature or a fascinating graphical representation of water consumption throughout the world. Spin the narrative into something that engages curiosity and creates an action amongst the audience.
4) Involve your audience and share the love
Invite your audience to participate along the way. Ask they to share, invite others, or run a competition to share your event/product using social media. Create your event into a movement that sounds so special, your audience just has to be a part of it.
If you don't consider the big picture when branding your event, you're missing out on opportunities to capture the hearts and wallets of your donors, supporters and future sponsors.
Get the above combination right and your event will start doing the work for you, building anticipation for years to come.
Originally from British Columbia, Canada, Ryan Zynger has worked for the Canadian military planning, events for its Family Resource Center, and for the California Science Center in Los Angeles. He launched Los Angeles-based Zynger Event Designs in 2008, focusing on nonprofits organizations to help them create successful and memorable events that are on time and under budget. He oversaw the production of the Wedding Event at The Special Event 2015.