A Few Thoughts About Event Branding
Disneyland makes my friend cry. She cried when she was 12. She cried when she was 20. She cried when she was 28. Without fail, every time she goes to Disneyland, she cries. Or rather, every time she leaves Disneyland, she cries.
Her eyes start stinging right on cue as she strolls down Main Street for the last time (until the next time). She can’t explain exactly why it happens—why she, a grown woman, still cries every time she leaves Disneyland. But it’s clear that the day’s activities and memories are still fresh in her mind. The rides, the attractions, the food—it all gives her great happiness. And she’s sad to leave it all behind.
The Disneyland brand experience is summed up on an archway at the entrance to the park. A plaque reads:
“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
Disneyland fulfills that brand promise so well for my friend that it moves her to tears when it’s time to return to reality.
Event makers can create an event brand just as powerful. To do so would elevate engagement, ticket sales, and loyalty. And though successful event branding doesn’t happen overnight, it’s something that you can always be working on. Here are a few thoughts on event branding:
The most successful consumer brands have a distinct personality. Nike. Apple. Disney. They all have attributes that appeal to their target audiences. When developing your brand, emphasize the characteristics that suit your event. Let its personality shine through your logo, the website, social media posts, etc.
The Questival by outdoor gear and apparel company Cotopaxi is a young event that exudes personality. From their website:
“Cotopaxi’s Questival is an adventure scavenger hunt where teams of 2–6 people complete crazy challenges to win trips, gear, and more. It’s like The Amazing Race crammed into 24 insane hours— but with more llamas.”
The Questival is a young brand, but its adventurous and playful personalities have been well established.
Brand consistency for your event is crucial for its success. But when you think about brand consistency, think beyond your external communications. It starts with your team and how you internalize the brand. For example, Disneyland calls all of its workers cast members instead of employees. This sets the tone, the stage, and the expectations of what they are trying to accomplish everyday at the park. Everyone from sweepers, to ride operators, to Mickey Mouse, are all on stage.
One way to maintain internal consistency is to lock down style, voice, and personality with a simple brand guide. This is a document everyone in your organization can reference.
After years of listening to their sweet, subtle music, I recently attended a live concert by the Weepies, a folk-pop duo. It was my first time seeing them perform live, but the experience still felt very familiar. I had already experienced the brand long before going to this concert.
The Weepies brand experience extends beyond the live performance. It starts with their music, and then it flows through album artwork, posters, websites, social media, and more.
A successful brand captures the essence of the event experience.
Every event should have a brand. Fundraisers, conferences, festivals, etc.—they all benefit from having a distinct personality and experience. Always be refining your event brand. Branding helps you build lasting relationships with your audience. And these relationships will help you get the event attendance you need.
- Jeff Lew was a Creative Director for SpinGo. He is now a Creative Director for Aktify, a customer acquisition engine that qualifies and reactivates prospects through goodwill experience marketing.