It’s no secret that technology has revolutionized marketing, changing the budget line item once called “signage” to “branding,” a more comprehensive term that includes everything from blimps to parking lot decals. However, it’s all too easy to simply reproduce the branding plan from your previous event without researching creative new options. Consider these six tips for expanding your efforts and building a lights-out branding strategy for your next sporting event.
Walk it out.
During your site visit, walk the path 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? Get creative, but be wise with your budget, directing your dollars toward high-visibility areas. (Read: Don’t install clings on all 47 escalators in the stadium.)
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 patron. What branding opportunities can your contracted hotels offer? “Venues make [branding opportunities] a selling point instead of reaction point,” says Kavin Schieferdecker, director of sales and marketing for Hilton Anatole in Dallas, which has hosted NFL playoffs and Super Bowl and Cotton Bowl games. Along with the 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 your attendees to share your event with their social media followers. Shawn Elledge, who has worked in marketing for more than a decade, says he’s seen this result in both excitement and momentum on-site, but also a widely expanded reach online. “We include our event hashtags on everything we can: wristbands, apparel and every signage piece,” Elledge says.
If you have flexibility from the beginning, consider incorporating the venue’s colors to result in one comprehensive vibe. If not, think St. Paddy’s Day style and ask what the venue can change to your color just for the event: cups, chairs, drinks, etc. Also incorporate the color into your F&B plan. Light up the venue with your event colors on the evenings leading up to it to create buzz.
Take customer service to the next level and use what Elledge calls human wayfinding. Enlist a stellar team of volunteers; train them thoroughly in the event FAQs; and send them to strategic locations wearing branded shirts to hold signs, answer questions and serve as another point of contact for attendees. Equip each of them with a radio to get tricky questions answered or reach further help.
Your point of contact at the venue should be able to tell you any restrictions for signage, show you examples of branding locations other groups have used and share the preferred vendor list for installation. “Use good vendors that know the venue well and come highly recommended,” says Schieferdecker. During a disastrous event at his hotel, one group that brought in an unknown installation vendor to save money. It ended up with clings filled with air bubbles and crooked signs that had cost a pretty penny to produce.