Long an essential component in the corporate realm, branding has found a place in the wedding world, moving beyond theme decor and into a couple’s personal journey—telling their story. How that story plays out in social media is an element shared by both. Photo by Matthew Kaplan Photography
HASHTAG AS GOODIE BAG Perhaps the most popular takeaway gift at events both corporate and social is the customized hashtag. For better or for worse, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Chanda Eddens-Daniels, owner of Oakland, Calif.-based A Monique Affair, says that custom photo booths at weddings with the couple’s custom hashtag as a wedding-day branding must-have. “My couples create custom photo booths and hashtags because they want their guests to show where they are and how much fun they are having.”
And as for those images (*cough* drunken partygoers *cough*) best left missed? “Social media integration is inevitable with events, social and corporate,” says Meghan Ely, owner of Richmond, Va.-based OFD Consulting. “If a partygoer posts an unflattering or unprofessional photo on their Instagram account, I can see it hurting that person’s reputation more than that of the brand.”
Joe Martin, partner and director of conferences for Los Angeles-based BDI Events, offers a solution to the unflattering photo post: Monitor your social media pages during the event and pay attention to what is being posted. And as a gentle push toward a proper post: “A great way to help keep the brand in a positive light is to create a branded backdrop for the guests to take their selfies in front of,” he says. One of his clients ups the ante by holding an Instagram contest. “The attendee with the most creative picture in front of the branded backdrop gets a prize,” Martin explains.
Cara Kleinhaut, owner of Los Angeles-based Caravents Inc., Events & Experiential Production, Design & Digital, sees only the positive. “We encourage guests to socially share often and enthusiastically. A high social footprint and creation of digital content is very often a major goal of the event,” she says. “Much of the ROI of an event is measured in its social impressions.”
The Instagrammable Moment
IN AN INSTAGRAM Indeed, creating what Kleinhaut calls “Instagrammable moments” is a big event objective. “As many events now are staged for digital content, we think about how to create such moments around an event environment. It’s all in the styling and lighting.” For example, to launch nine new beauty lines for Target, Kleinhaut and her team staged the products in a natural, residential setting. Unique display pieces, from outdoor porch swings to a bedroom dresser festooned with floral, drove the products home. Photo by Kim Genevieve
“We approach each product with a brainstorm of how we would use the product and what its natural would setting be,” Kleinhaut says. “It all worked to create inspiring branded moments that compelled social sharing and encouraged guests to sample the products in a natural setting.”
Similarly, for the launch of a new Samsung handheld device, rather than simply displaying it on pedestals, Kleinhaut worked with the company to create a custom app for the phone that guests used to order desserts and drinks. “Guests had to pick up the device, handle it, and use it to order. And that was the goal—to get the product into their hands and have them fall in love with it.”
For an event celebrating the beauty industry, Kathy Miller, president of Chicago-based Total Event Resources, created a fashion show to highlight the products of 12 different sponsors. Each sponsor had a custom-designed platform unique to its brand. Live video streaming showcased stylists working behind the scenes on fashion models throughout the evening, incorporating the various hair and makeup products. At a designated moment, the room went dark, then colorful lighting and dramatic music pulsated throughout the room, and models began strutting through the crowd to reach their designated platform, where they would dance, strut and interact with guests. “Each stylist had an individualized brand, and they were told to use their brand as the inspiration for their look and the platform show,” Miller says. “It was a very unique way of visually highlighting everyone’s individual style and brand.” Photo by Matthew Kaplan Photography
The Branded Wedding
The role of branding has taken on new importance for bridal couples as they strive to mark every element of their wedding with their own personalized stamp.
Now more than ever, couples are focused on customizing their wedding day to highlight their personalities, and with that comes an increased interest in branding the day itself,” Ely says. “Couples are setting the tone with branded ‘save the dates’ and invitations. The look is then carried over to the wedding day, from event day stationery to the menu to gobos in the lighting design.” Photo by David Abel Photography
Alex Chalk, senior planner for Woodinville, Wash.-based Taylor’d Events Group, sees big growth and a huge market in wedding day branding. When tasked with assisting a couple to create a brand, the company enlists the help of designers with experience in corporate branding and logo design. “We encourage clients to make the investment to have a professional designer create a unique logo that speaks to their personalities,” she says. “When collaborating with a designer, we encourage couples to talk about what they enjoy as well as any symbols that are special to them. I have seen skiing, hummingbirds, planes and a love for all things Parisian worked discreetly into a logo. It’s also important to remember that the branding doesn’t always have to be front and center. It can be faded into the background, pressed, or incorporated discreetly into the decor.”
After the logo has been created, she says, the possibilities for branding the event are endless, from the stationery suite, wedding website and dance floor gobos, to place cards, welcome bags and parting gifts. “The best part is that this initial investment in event branding can be carried out beyond the wedding day itself," she says, "to thank-you cards, a watermark for social media images, and even an address stamp for the couple for everyday use.”
The complete story appears in the May-June issue of Special Events. Not a subscriber? We can fix that; just click here.