Event Branding 101: The Basic Do's and Don'ts

Post by 
Karen Ashwin
Published 
November 10, 2019

Your company has a huge event coming up and it’s worthy of a branding campaign all it’s own. Maybe you’re hosting a conference, symposia, or training event this year. You may be launching a product or perhaps the company Christmas party has gotten so big that it’s ready to be an independent branded event.

The interesting thing about event branding is that the same basic guidelines apply no matter what kind of event you’re planning.  So today, we’re here to share the tricks of the trade with event branding 101: The basic do’s and don’ts of how to brand your event in a way that will be a marketing, attendance, and experiential hit.

Event Branding 101: DO

For every event branding project, there are a few basic things you can do to make your branding pop and kick off your marketing campaign with fantastic promotional momentum. If you want to brand an amazing event…

1. Name the Event

The name of your event will become its personality. The name will be featured in nearly every piece of advertising, informational, and decorative media for the entire event, so you’ll want to think of a good one. Put your heads together with the marketing and event planning teams to come up with a memorable name that captures the purpose and attitude of the event you want to host.

2. Design the Event Theme for Universal Use

The theme of your event flyers and social media announcement should be consistent on every branding and marketing element. From the announcement emails to the napkins, your design theme needs to ring true. This will not only create an appealing and consistent marketing campaign, but it will also show your attendees that it’s safe to join in the spirit of the event and dress or plan to join the theme as you’ve announced it. Both in sharing the event with friends/colleagues and when they attend in person.

3. Use Your Logo as Inspiration

Use your brand logo as a major element of your theme design. If your brand has a distinct colour palette, use that in your design and thread it through the entire event theme. For joint events with other brands, challenge your design team to get creative in using both (or all) brands’ signature colours in the theme design and building both (or all) logos in various elements of the total event design.

The pervasive use of brand colours is one of the best ways to brand-personalise the event without blatant logo-blazing on every corner.

Designer team sketching a logo in digital design studio on computer, creative graphic drawing skills for marketing and branding
Designer team sketching a logo in digital design studio on computer, creative graphic drawing skills for marketing and branding

4. Build a Hashtag on Social Media

Social media is the number one online way to market an upcoming event and it is best done with bold consistent branding. You don’t even need to put your event name and dates on every social media marketing piece as long as your campaign is so recognisable that your community knows what they’re seeing instantly.

And don’t forget to build your own hashtag (or two). A new branded event hashtag can be added to every one of the social media posts you were already going to make and is an open invitation for your staff and community to join in using the hashtag when they discuss, share, and participate in the event lead-up.

5. Make Real Live Event Posters

With live event planning, live printed media is an important part of the process. And we don’t just mean napkins and table signs for the big day. When getting your organization and attendees psyched for the event, a few real live posters can serve an amazing role. Look into poster designs you’ve liked in the past and try something clever that pops out of the page.

6. Host Lead-Up Competitions & Giveaways

Of course, nothing gets your audience more excited than competitions and giveaways leading up to the event. These are usually conducted online but for events where employees are attendees, you can also do some fun in-office competitions or raffles that get everyone pumped and ready to attend or work the event with gusto. Make sure every preliminary event is themed consistently with your event with bright branded colours and symbols or items that match the theme.

The best way to use competitions and giveaways is by splitting your prize distribution. Give some of your prizes away during the event lead-up. Then hold onto some prizes to be claimed by the winners at the events. An example might be selling raffle tickets before, then holding the drawing at the event. Or collecting contest entries and then announcing the winner during the festivities.

Event Branding 101: DON’T

Of course, there are also a few classic blunders that any team is at risk of making if they’re not careful. Most people aren’t born knowing how to brand an event, so being aware of common mistakes is a great way to ensure you don’t make them with your team and your event. If you want to host an amazing event without a hitch, then don’t…

1. Barrel Forward Without Mockups

When you’ve got a great event branding idea, it’s tempting to barrel into the implementation phase full-steam-ahead. But wait. Ask any graphic artist or an event planner and they will tell you: most designs are not perfect after the first draft. You need to see how the branding theme design plays out over all the elements of your event.

So don’t just barrel forward with the first great idea you have. Workshop it. Make a full set of digital mock-ups to see how your theme will look when applied to every aspect of the event. Figure out how you’ll brand the flyers, the posters, the emails, and the napkins. Spend a little time thinking about how you’ll transform the space with your design theme and how you’ll decorate the tables.

When it all comes together in a mock-up, that’s when you steam ahead into implementation.

2. Force the Fun

Social media pics of your team wearing branded shirts and silly hats can be a real hit for event branding. But if those smiles are fakey and forced, then you’re more likely to flap. The key to great branding and event marketing is authenticity. You need genuine enthusiasm to share lead-up photos and content. Or, at least, to be genuine. A genuine photo of your team exhausted over the project table can be hilarious and promotional if used correctly. As long as it’s authentic.

Keep your campaign as honest and lighthearted as possible. Get people genuinely excited by getting excited yourself and making it a fun project to work on and promote.

3. Invest in Crummy Swag

And our final tip– the final Event Branding Don’t– is crummy swag. Because let’s face it, no one really needs another keychain or click-pen. And if they do, you can give them away to volunteers out of big glass bowls. Crummy swag is one of the single most complained about aspects of event branding by attendees.

So for your event, make sure your swag is a hit. Focus on cool little stuff your specific group of attendees can use every day like mobile charging cables, cool seasonal gear, umbrellas (in certain climates), and industry gadgets you know will be well-received. A well-built swag bag can make a huge difference in how well attendees personally enjoy your branding efforts.

Branding your event doesn’t have to be a big challenge, as long as you follow a few basic guidelines. If you are looking for more helpful tips and insights into branding the perfect business event, contact us today!

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