The 4-Step Formula for Effective Event Branding in 2021

To say the events industry has had a tumultuous year would be an understatement. Necessity played her dutiful role as the mother of invention, making virtual events explode online at breakneck speed. Nearly everything was different: the logistics, the budget, the dress code. But for those who did it right, one thing remained consistent: branding.

Strong branding is at the heart of creating a memorable event experience. So much so, in fact, that it works even when the event is not in-person (as 2021 powerfully attests).

With the world continuing to reopen and reclose its doors on live events for the foreseeable future, it pays to revisit the traditional pillars of solid event branding — as well as to zoom in on the new innovations.

4 Key Components of Strong Event Branding

#1 Branded Event Messaging

The first step in effective event branding is figuring out why you want to bring people together. What does your event stand for? This should be clear, compelling, and succinctly conveyed through branded event messaging that appeals to your audience’s motivations.

For example:

The TechCrunch Disrupt conference is where “Tomorrow’s headline makers take the stage today”. This branded messaging clearly targets startup founders and speaks directly to their aspirations.

‘Make Contact’ event

And 29Rooms ‘Make Contact’ event, sponsored by Refinery29, is described as a “choose-your-own-adventure of live performances, installations, and group experiences that explore new ways of dating, dancing, socializing, and celebrating”. Scheduled for the end of 2021, one can clearly understand how this appeals to their NYC audience of partygoers.

Don’t forget to pepper your messaging with proof points and credibility factors to convince would-be event goers that it’s going to be worth their while. CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, achieved this by putting together a smart infographic that spells out their power in numbers with over 86,000 attendees from 185 countries.

#2 Branded Event Design

Powerful messaging requires equally powerful design. The experts at Adobe have nailed branded event design since 2012  with their bi-annual Adobe Summit, where enterprise customers are presented with solutions for advertising, analytics, marketing automation, commerce, and managing customer experiences.

Though the event brand design is separate from the company brand design, this video of the recent 2021 Summit highlights how they seamlessly weave the two together. It not only creates a striking impression with attendees, but also ensures business impact down the line.

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#3 Branded Event Experience

It’s hard to talk about event branding without mentioning the branded event experience. Though this has taken on new forms since virtual events hit the scene, it’s still primarily about networking, connecting, and creating memorable moments.  The kind of moments that event goers will talk about and share to create a buzz and boost next year’s attendance. 

CupCake Vineyards, a spirited California-based brand and the official wine sponsor of the Lollapalooza music festival, has achieved this kind of buzz for several years running with the help of their signature Lollapalooza drink, The Frozie. This ‘frozen selfie’ is a one-of-a-kind frozen wine drink, personalized with an edible selfie graphic, which festival goers have come to know and love. This year they upgraded their brand impact by printing in one of Cupcake’s signature branded colors. 

The stunning drink designs, created with the innovative Ripple Maker II device, helps brands deliver a personalized experience at scale — even when there are huge crowds and long lines. Plus, the Instagrammable output ensures that brands get additional exposure on social media.

#4 Branded Event Swag

Whether super fun, or super functional, branded event swag  is a great opportunity to make a lasting impression that can also be used to convey brand values. So if you’re looking for swag branding ideas for events, choose digital gift cards that support socially-responsible businesses, charitable donations, or even a subscription to a wellness app. Chances are these will score way more points with today’s audience than a stress ball. 

Putting it all together 

To be truly effective, event branding depends on promotional effort. This begins long before your event is scheduled to take place, and continues long after to maximize impact and retain momentum for future events. 

That means:

  • Using your website not just for capturing leads and registration, but for showcasing event highlights and posting valuable session takeaways that attendees can easily access in the future. 
  • Using your social media channels to promote the event, but also to facilitate ongoing networking opportunities. 
  • And recording live video streaming of keynote events to continue reaching a relevant audience. 

By ensuring consistent event branding throughout all your distribution channels, you can boost business impact from today’s event for months or even years down the line.