08.11.2016 by Jon
Experiential marketing – taking a brand into a live environment like a conference, exhibition or trade show is one of the most powerful communication channels available to your business.
Live events present a unique opportunity to engage with an audience face to face, and establish relationships that are far more personal than those you can develop in digital space, and because live events are memorable experiences that engage all the senses, they are a great way to generate awareness and build recognition of your brand.
But when it comes to branding, live events are not without their challenges. While managing your branding on ‘static’ marketing collateral like your website, brochures or business cards is relatively straightforward, it’s very different when you take your brand into a live, dynamic, multi-dimensional environment.
It’s an area we have a lot of experience in at Studio 18, and we’ve learned that there are 3 particularly important things to remember when designing branded collateral for use at live events:
Events can call for a wide range of branded materials including:
This list only scratches the surface of course, but it does illustrate the variation of materials that may be required.
The point is that you’re very likely to need to use a range of specialist suppliers, all using different processes to reproduce your branding onto different materials. To avoid variations in how your branding looks, it will be important for your designer to liaise with and co-ordinate all suppliers.
It’s highly unlikely that your brand guidelines will anticipate every branding opportunity that an event may present you with. Where for example should your logo go on a staff t-shirt? How should it be reproduced on decorative balloons, or on tins of mints you’re giving away?
These might sound like minor points, but it will be important to work closely with your designer, who as the guardian of your brand can help advise you and make recommendations.
Live events can also require you to exercise discretion about how and where your brand is displayed. The marketing world is full of unfortunate tales of brands that have associated or aligned themselves with other brands or products that are simply not appropriate. Giveaways, competition prizes, guest speakers – all these things (and plenty more besides) need to be very carefully considered to ensure they are totally compatible with your brand values.
No two events are the same, so all aspects of design need to be tailored exactly to the environment you have to brand.
Getting a handle on scale, and putting yourself in the position of your audience is crucial. A graphic panel, banner or poster may look great on your desktop, or even in your office, but how will it look to someone in the back row of a conference, or across a hall at a busy trade show?
Think also about the background against which your collateral will have to work. Live events are busy, with many distractions; will yours stand out? Images used on graphic panels should be big, bold, and have strongly contrasting colour tones, while any text should be brief, impactful and as large as possible. It’s remarkable how many businesses make the mistake of producing event graphics with text that can only be read close up.
Consider too how graphics are to be illuminated. Does the venue have a powerful lighting system that will ‘wash out’ your graphics rendering them virtually invisible, or are you tucked away in a dark corner where your audience will strain their eyes? Often, the best option will be to have your own lighting solution so that you can control how key areas are lit yourself.
Finally, you need to take account of the fact that reproducing your logo and images in large format will require high quality, high-resolution artwork – grainy, pixilated graphics look unprofessional and will reflect badly on your brand. A good designer will make sure that images and artwork are prepared to give the very best quality reproduction at the size they are being used.