Branding has taken over the budget line item once called signage. Branding is a more comprehensive term that includes everything from parking lot decals to blimps, and it has revolutionized marketing altogether. However, it’s all too easy to reproduce branding from your previous event without taking time to look into creative new options. Consider these six tips for building a lights-out branding strategy for your next event.
Walk it out.
During your site visit, walk the paths attendees will take to the venue and explore branding opportunities along the way. Is there a parking deck with elevators you can wrap? What does the venue allow on the sidewalk? If there is a fountain outside, can you create a cling for the bottom of it? Use your budget wisely by directing dollars toward high visibility areas.
Think beyond the venue.
Work with the CVB to contact public transportation to see what can be branded on trains, buses and adjacent restaurants your guests will likely patronize. What branding opportunities can your contracted hotels offer? “Venues make [branding opportunities] a selling point instead of a reaction point,” says Kavin Schieferdecker, director of sales and marketing for Hilton Anatole
in Dallas. Alongside traditional standing signs or looping welcome messages in lobbies, some hotels are now branding room keys and offering more moments for recognition.
Facilitate viral marketing
Create a signature selfie location in a high-traffic area, inviting attendees to share your event with their social media followers. Shawn Elledge, art director for the North American Mission Board
, says he’s seen this strategy create excitement and build momentum on-site, as well as expand an event’s reach online. To improve efforts: “We include our event hashtags on everything we can: wristbands, apparel and every signage piece,” says Elledge.
If you have flexibility with creating the brand for your event, consider incorporating the venue’s colors to promote one comprehensive vibe. If not, ask what pieces of the venue can be changed to color the surroundings of your event (think cups, chairs, drinks, etc.). Also incorporate the color into your F&B plan. If your budget allows, light up the venue with your signature colors on the evenings leading up to the event to create buzz in the city.
Take customer service to the next level and use what Elledge calls human wayfinding. Enlist a stellar team of volunteers and train them thoroughly to answer all event FAQs. Then, send them to strategic locations wearing branded shirts to hold signs, answer questions and serve as a helpful resource for attendees. Equip each of them with a radio to provide them assistance as needed.
Your point of contact at the venue can inform you of any signage restrictions, show you examples of branding locations other groups have used and share a preferred vendor list for installation. “Use good vendors who know the venue well and come highly recommended,” says Schieferdecker, recalling one disastrous event at his hotel that used an unknown installation vendor to save money. The group ended up with air bubbles in their clings and crooked signs that cost a pretty penny to produce, yet ended up looking sloppy.