At Accurate Creative, we’re gearing up for what is typically one of our busiest times of year —event and conference season. Clients who host annual conferences are from various industries and sectors, but all of them face very similar challenges when it comes to promoting and marketing the event.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a tight conference brand. All of the materials are being produced ANYWAY, so why not take advantage and make sure they’re all part of a beautiful suite?
If you’re an event or conference organizer, I have a good feel for what you are faced with in making your event a success.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a couple Dos and Don’ts I like to share:
- Invest in a conference logo and do it right. Keep to classic features that will stand the test of time so your logo won’t date itself after a couple of years. Ideally, it will then only need minor (and I mean MINOR) updates, like swapping out the conference year, etc.
- Plan ahead (I know, sounds obvious). But honestly, you’d be surprised how many calls I get from organizations three weeks prior to their conference looking to hire an agency to “layout their program” or “create way-finding signage”.
By not bringing an agency on board at the early stages of planning, you’ve missed a critical opportunity. Have you ever been to a conference where every single piece of material you touch is branded and thought to yourself, “These guys have really got it together”, or, “Wow, they must have spent a fortune”?
Well, you don’t have to spend a fortune to create a tight conference brand. All of the materials are being produced ANYWAY, so why not take advantage and make sure they’re all part of a beautiful suite? Talk about an easy and effective way to elevate people’s perception.
- Don’t (necessarily) develop a brand that needs to be used every year. Give yourself the flexibility to adapt the look or theme of your conference materials year-to-year. The logo stays the same, establishing your conference brand recognition over time, but the supporting materials (program, signage, promotional emails, etc.) benefit from a unique, fresh look each year that resonates with your audiences.
- Don’t be unrealistic with your marketing/communications budget. That’s not to say you have to be frivolous. I don’t think you have to, or should, spend a large portion of you budget on conference branding but it’s certainly up there on the list of things that will give you the most value for money spent.
Think about it this way; your organization’s likely invested thousands of dollars on a website that gets a few thousand visitors a year. In this day and age, it’s the face of your organization. Often, the very first time someone will engage with your brand is when they visit your website. The same theory applies to your conference. Over the course of two or three days, hundreds, maybe even thousands, of visitors will engage with your brand by attending your conference, live and in person. What impression will you make? How will you be perceived?
To give you an example of a well-branded conference that didn’t break the budget, consider CropLife Canada’s annual GrowCanada Conference. We developed this brand several years ago and it is one of my favourite to work on. The logo gets a simple update each year but we change the graphics based on the conference theme.