Remember that awesome swag you got from your last conference? Loyal to a local coffee business you first tried between sessions? Still thinking about the event app that made navigating your weekend a breeze?
Then you’re familiar with some top-notch event branding!
The best event branding sticks in attendees’ minds long after the event has ended—and gets them excited when it comes around again in the future.
Curious about how to brand your event in a way that does just that? Let’s explore some strategies that’ll help you rock your digital and onsite event branding!
What is Event Branding?
Event branding is a marketing practice that combines design elements, messaging, and visuals to create an event’s unique identity. From the colors of your logo to the partners you pair with, event branding tells the story of your event!
The best event branding is meant to:
- Reach your target audience
- Stand out from competitors
- Align with your organization’s larger brand identity
From digital design to the look of your onsite space, all elements of your event branding strategy should be consistent and cohesive. At a glance, your attendees should know what you’re all about!
Why is Event Branding Important?
In many ways, branding is the heart of every event you run! When people reflect on the good memories of your event, each aspect of your branding will serve as their touchstones.
Having a solid event branding strategy is important because it will:
- Make your event memorable. From the logo on attendees’ conference badges to the layout of your vendors’ hall, your branding is where memories are made.
- Set expectations for attendees. Are you an academic conference on the literary value of food, or a networking event for children’s television employees? Those are two very different events, and brand is where you set expectations for your attendees.
- Create meaningful connections. Sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and partners are all part of your brand. When their values and goals are aligned with your brand, you can build a community.
- Introduce new folks to your organization. Eye-catching branding can capture peoples’ attention and draw them in to learn more!
- Distinguish you from competitors. You want to belong in your industry, but you also definitely don’t want to blend in with your competitors—brand is your first opportunity to grab attention first.
When your branding speaks for you, your event just flows better!
Defining Your Brand
It can be easy for some stakeholders to look at another organization’s brand and say “can we just do it like that?”
But we know there are so many more layers to event branding. Before you hire a graphic designer or jump into copy, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of the event? Think back to our academic conference. Is the goal to feature newly published research? Create professional opportunities like connecting emerging academics with established thinkers? Your event branding shows attendees what they can expect to get out of attending.
- What does your organization stand for? Your event branding needs to tie directly into the branding for your organization, or you’ll miss an awesome marketing opportunity! What values does your org stand for? What colors and fonts do you use? Search for the unique ways your event uplifts your larger mission, and communicate that to your audience.
- Who is your target attendee? Is your event for long-time industry professionals? Folks who are just breaking in? Specific social demographics? Defined roles (doctors! Marketers! Plumbers!), or other organizations? Your branding is meant to speak to your attendees—be sure you know who you’re talking to!
- How do you want attendees to feel at your event? The first opportunity you have to set the tone for your event is through your messaging, visual identity, and experiential design. Center your attendee experience in your brand, and they’ll feel taken care of—and eager to return.
The answers to these questions can guide your decision-making so you hold an event that really reflects your goals and values.
Recommended Resource: 🎨 Your brand is at the heart of your event experience. Check out Experience Design: The Complete Guide to Creating Memorable Events!
5 Essential Event Branding Elements
So what actually makes your branding what it is? It essentially comes down to 5 core elements.
Imagine you’re hosting your event in a large convention center—so large, in fact, that there are two other events happening at the same time. Your event branding design will be the lighthouse that makes you recognizable at a glance.
These guiding design elements include:
- Color palette
- Fonts and typography
Design is the connective tissue of your event—it links your signage to your swag and your digital marketing to your onsite layout. It also conveys your tone! Attendees at an academic conference are going to be looking for very different branding versus a fan event or book festival.
When branding events, your messaging is where you really dive into a targeted communication strategy. It communicates your brand values, event personality, and positioning in the larger market or industry.
Your messaging elements include your:
- Brand story
Great messaging draws people into what you have to offer, and sets expectations for the event. When those expectations are met, you’ve taken first step in cultivating long-term brand loyalty
The voice you use across your written messaging is also what taps into the emotional experience you want to create.
For example, if you’re running a conference for a writer’s association, your attendees might be looking for craft growth, connection with other publishing professionals, and exploring new areas of their genre. Every email you send and every ad you place should contribute to the story that that’s what they’ll find at your event.
Visuals help you tell your event’s story without relying on words, and go beyond your design branding.
Here are a few examples of event branding visuals:
- Photographs of attendees enjoying last year’s festival, beneficiaries of a charitable event, or special guest speakers
- Event graphics advertising guest speakers’ photos and names, plus essential information (name, date, time, location) of their event
- Signage that gets your attendees where they need to go, keeps them oriented, and makes them feel like they’re in a designated event space
- Booth design to tie together a vendors’ hall even with multiple exhibitor brands
- Branded items for events where you want attendees to walk away with a keepsake
- Icons signaling help stations, restrooms, or parking
A strong visual identity is built through consistent storytelling. If your event’s messaging is about supporting your local community, images of community members will amplify that story.
If you’re posting online, be sure to include alt text to keep your visuals accessible to everyone!
Aligning with folks who share your values and passions elevates your brand and builds relationships that last.
Potential partners could include:
- Local business partners
- Guest speakers
- Workshop leaders
You can use your event branding materials to attract sponsors and exhibitors who you think would be a great fit for your event.
On that note—don’t partner with just anyone! Your brand should also help you rule some partners out.
Some partnerships might give you financial opportunities, but your brand needs to be treated as sacred. Say no if their values or public stances don’t align with your own: Your relationship to your attendees is everything, so don’t compromise!
Event marketing is what turns your carefully cultivated brand into a tool. Through your design, messaging, visuals, and partnerships, you go to market and start driving registrations.
Activate your brand across your marketing tactics, like:
- Social media campaigns
- Email campaigns
- Website design
- Web and in-person advertisements
- Media spotlights
- Brand activation events
When your brand identity is solid, marketing should feel easy! Take The Word on the Street as an example. Its website design highlights featured guests, uses visuals with a consistent and friendly color palette, and (most importantly!) advertises the event’s date and location right at the top of the website.
Onsite vs. Digital Branding Ideas
Whether you’re running in-person, virtual, or hybrid events, there are tons of event branding ideas to make your day a hit.
Here are our favorite event branding ideas for onsite and digital branding:
Onsite event branding
Whether you’re hosting a beloved annual festival or kicking off an inaugural conference, your onsite branding is how your attendees connect to your brand on event day.
A few great onsite event branding examples include:
- Stage design
- Swag bags
- Snacks (like branded ice cream!)
- Booth design
- Social walls
- Photo booths
Digital event branding
Digital event branding is what builds your online presence and draws in attendees. Whether people explore your website, see your logo on social media, or stumble on your viral video, you want to make an impression that earns you registrations.
Be sure to apply all of your key branding elements to your:
- Social media platforms
- Event app
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media campaigns
- Event experience platform
Social media in particular is a tool that you can use at every stage of your event. If you set up a strong pre-event campaign, track your hashtags day-of, and then create post-event highlight reels, you can see the full story of your event.
Using Event Tech as a Brand Activation Tool
Your event tech is at the center of your attendee experience. It’s how they navigate your event map, find sessions they want to attend, and explore the sponsors that are crucial to the longevity of your event.
Being able to properly activate your brand in your event experience platform is crucial to creating a consistent event experience. And at EventMobi, we’ve been helping event planners create beautiful, engaging events for 13+ years.
Here’s how we keep brand front of mind in our event experience platform::
- Easy-to-use built in design features—with the option to level up to a custom HTML/CSS design
- Drag-and-drop conference badge designer
- Professional content creation services to help you optimize your event branding strategy
- Branded mobile apps that keep your event in your attendees’ pockets
- Activation opportunities like gamification and live polls
- Social media walls, and a social analytics dashboard that tracks your brand success online
Want to get a clear vision of how EventMobi can activate your brand? Chat with our team today!
How to Brand an Event: 7 Top Tips
Once you’ve gathered your branding elements and brainstormed bright ideas, all that’s left is to execute your planning.
You might be using a variety of event branding services, but here are 7 event branding tips to guide you no matter what:
1. Be consistent
Consistency is key! Your event branding tells your story— it’s important that everyone is receiving the same message.
This looks like:
- Using your dedicated design elements across all of your materials
- Always returning to your event’s key objective and values
- Matching your onsite and digital branding
- Being clear on dates, times, and locations
2. Promote through the right channels
The promotion you do leading up to the event is often what determines how many fresh attendees you can bring in! Look at what’s worked before, where your competitors are, and what new channels you want to test to make the most of your event budget.
Some top promotion tactics include:
- Running a spectacular announcement (mini-event, anyone?)
- Booking media slots in the lead-up to your event
- Using paid ads where you target your audience demographics
- Social media & email campaigns
- Urging attendees to spread the word to their peers (you can include a referral reward!)
If you’re worried about being repetitive, make sure you’re never repeating the same message twice. From early bird specials to guest announcements, partner highlights to event countdowns, there are a million ways to keep your messaging fresh!
3. Create memorable moments
- Create memorable moments
The best events are the ones that stick in your mind for years to come.
Give your guests special experiences like:
- Networking opportunities to make lasting connections
- Photobooths for a post-event laugh
- Gamification to build up the energy
- If relevant, book signings or autographs
- Kaffeeklatsches with special guests
- Private mentoring sessions
- Charity auctions
From planning to execution, never forget the importance of experience design.
4. Personalize for attendees
When attendees feel like your event was created just for them, the experience feels a lot more special. Even if your event has thousands of people, each attendee’s experience will be unique to them personally.
Personalize that experience with things like:
- Event apps that target their individual wants and needs
- Personalized agendas
- Handwritten thank you notes
- Swag they’ll use each day
- Live polls during sessions
- Post-event surveys to gather real feedback
No matter what your event is all about, great communication is an asset to your brand!
5. Call on influencers
Did you know that 72% of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers on social media?
Calling on experts in your field is always an incredible way to expand your reach, but influencer marketing can be especially impactful when you’re looking to target younger audiences.
Get influencers’ attention (and form strong relationships) by:
- Sending personalized invitations that highlight the value of partnering
- Learning what influencers hope to get out of this relationship
- Offering creative freedom for influencers to explore & advertise your event
- Connect with micro-influencers to reach a smaller, more passionate following
Like we said earlier, make sure you feel good about the influencers you’re working with. Your partnership isn’t just their endorsement of you—it’s your endorsement of them!
6. Connect your onsite & digital branding
Onsite is good, digital is great, and both is best of all! Both onsite and digital branding will use the 5 branding elements in different ways, which open up multiple avenues for success.
Onsite event branding elements can look like:
- Design: Signage, table and tent layout, stage set up
- Messaging: MC announcements, volunteer t-shirt
- Visuals: Posters and graphics, swag
- Marketing: Day-of radio and TV spots, onsite Instagram Live reels
- Partnerships: Business partners and exhibitors
Digital event branding looks more like:
- Design: Colors and fonts on your website and social platforms
- Messaging: Consistent voice on social media posts
- Visuals: Shared graphics and photos
- Marketing: Social media and email campaigns
- Partnerships: Influencer shout-outs, sponsor recognition, exhibitor features
7. Collect data & feedback
Collecting data is how you measure your ROI when the event is over, and it’s a gold mine for qualitative data on branding impact.
Did attendees have the emotional experience you were hoping for? Do they really get what you’re all about?
You can track your brand impact by:
- Sending post-event surveys for real quotes from attendees on brand
- Running brand sentiment analysis by checking your mentions and tracking hashtags and keywords on social media
- Tracking the success of influencer campaigns with trackable links and discount codes
- Sending out brand awareness surveys a month or two later to see what people retained
All information is good information! If you discover that there’s confusion about your brand identity, you can explore what changes you could make.
5 Creative Ideas for Brand Activation Events
Did you know that 91% of consumers said they’d be more likely to buy a brand’s product or service after participating in a brand activation experience?
Brand activation events give your audience a chance to connect with you live, and really feel the value of your organization. Wondering what an activation event could look like?
Here are 5 ideas to get your gears turning:
Running an immersive experience is one way to turn your marketing strategy into a memory. For example, the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario‘s conference included a playground for teachers to try out STEAM tools and new digital tech. It tapped into their sense of wonder, and kicked off the same excitement they hope to inspire in students.
A kaffeeklatsch provides attendees a casual networking opportunity with industry professionals. Between sessions at your conference, attendees can sign up to sit at a private table with 5-8 other people and one guest of honor and chat informally.
For example, a writer’s association like SFWA often holds kaffeeklatsches with respected writers, editors, or agents!
Brightline Initiative’s 2019 TEDx activation is a great example of participatory art. They created an art installation where attendees were asked to write their thoughts about different sessions in permanent marker on transparent, colorful tiles. These tiles were then artistically arranged on a wall for the corresponding day.
As attendees wandered the event, they could literally see the new ideas and connections that were being made!
No matter what type of organization you’re running, everyone could use a wellness opportunity. Running a meditation event, setting up a quiet crafting room, or hosting a zumba class as a conference pick-me-up gives your attendees space to care for themselves. And best of all—it shows you care for them, too.
The Festival of Literary Diversity holds a year-round reading challenge that encourages people to read diversely throughout the year. This activation keeps the FOLD’s mission in the front of peoples’ minds beyond the festival itself.
Choose books or themes that tie back to your mission or industry, create a hashtag, and share what your audience is reading throughout the year!
Creating a Brand Everyone Will Recognize
From gorgeous stages to awesome video content, there are countless ways to make your event branding shine. If you engage your goals and values in each key element, your attendees will think of your event as an old friend in years to come.
Come chat with our team to learn about how EventMobi’s event management software can support and uplift your brand!