It takes a deft hand to handle a brand. Corporate event experts use many tools to share their client's message at events. But they caution against the impulse simply to plaster the brand all over the event.
“I think it is important that a brand be incorporated into an event in an organic way and not staged,” says Gary Levitt, vice president of Los Angeles-based Sequoia Productions. “Otherwise, it will feel like a ‘paid’ advertisement.”
Powerful branding can be as simple as a color choice, Levitt says. “There are instances, mostly with private events, where the ‘brand’ is simply a color palette or design that will be incorporated into the invite and be carried throughout the elements of the event,” he explains.
Sequoia created an elegant branded event for client Revlon with the “Revlon Ice Cream Bar and Lounge.” Custom ice creams — inspired by the latest Revlon spokeswomen and lip-gloss flavors — were served in cones topped with a branded chocolate medallion, “perfect for a late summer party,” Levitt says. “Cigarette” girls tray-passed Revlon's latest lipsticks in the lounge, which was branded with pillows and oversized photo backdrops.
“When guests walk into a branded space and want to hang out there all night, we acknowledge that as a job well done,” Levitt adds.
LIGHT ON LOGOS
Jodi Wolf recommends using a light touch with logos.
A common branding mistake is “overexposure and saturation” of the client logo, says the president of Chicago's Paulette Wolf Events & Entertainment. “Putting your logo on a wall is not branding. PWEE does not like to do themed events; we create environments instead, and oversaturating your logo is to branding the way a theme party is to creating an exciting event. It simply isn't the most effective, interesting way to do things.”
While tools such as gobos and banners will “always be a staple for events,” Wolf says, she suggests putting graphics in other places, such as on the aprons of catering staff or along the edges of lounge furniture. For one event, she and her team turned the client's product into decor — literally. “Recently for fixture-maker Grohe America, we used their colorful showerheads in our floral arrangements and food station decor,” she explains.
In a chic spin on branding, PWEE stressed the high-end designs of faucet-maker Brizo by commissioning fashion designers including Michael Kors and Tory Burch to create garments made from special fabric printed with subtle patterns of the faucets. “The one-of-a-kind collection was then presented across the country to industry and media audiences, and got national media attention,” Wolf says.
Kristjan Gavin, CMP, president of San Ramon, Calif.-based In Good Company, urges event designers to push their imaginations when creating branded events.
For an event series for client Microsoft Ltd. at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, held in July in Los Angeles, In Good Company started with a wide array of standard branding tools — step-and-repeats, banners and the like. But the event team did much more.
“Every vendor was asked to work from Microsoft Windows 7 platforms, and to make all technology visible,” Gavin explains. “This included our CGI 3D mapping — by Ernie Ernstrom from [San Francisco-based] DaVinci Fusion — done to the stage backdrop wall.” The 3D mapping “integrated pictures taken on-site and driven through a product using Microsoft ‘Deep Zoom’ technology,” Gavin adds.
With the thrust of the event the client's push toward “cloud-based” services, the event team developed a airline-themed “first-class in the cloud” brand, carried through the event series in everything from an inflatable “cloud” meeting space to Microsoft-branded wing pins.
Designers can do more if they “think of the brand experience at a subconscious level,” Gavin says, “such as integrating the client product in a new, innovative way.”
DA VINCI FUSION
IN GOOD COMPANY
PAULETTE WOLF EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT