Event Branding: 3 Tips for Developing Brand Identity

Samantha Gilmore

Marketers believe in events.

We’re not just guessing here—the numbers are in. Maybe they’re expensive. Maybe their success can be a real pain-in-the-butt to measure. But, according to a poll, 31% of marketers listed events as their single most effective marketing channel, and 90% of them agree that events are a solid opportunity to make in-person connections when most interactions happen online.

Despite their revered status and observed effectiveness, not all events are created equal. In order to reap real results, your brand has to stay in the spotlight—and that begins with your attendee’s first touchpoint with your event.

Keeping all eyes on your event branding and achieving a positive brand perception stems from consistency in how you market your event from the get-go. The good news is the lead-up happens online. So how do you make your brand the center of attention?

Start with a style guide

Designing materials can be one of the most fun parts of your event marketing lifecycle, but if you don’t have some event branding ground rules, it’s easy to end up with scattered pieces that don’t feel connected.

When your marketing collateral isn’t consistent, it’s hard to pick up on what the event’s overall vibe is; what kind of atmosphere it will have, what it will look like, who’s running it, what the tone is, etc. It’s difficult for attendees to understand that the materials they’re looking at are related to your brand if they’ve previously experienced a totally different look and feel.

The best way to lay down the law is by creating—or having your graphic designer create—a style guide. This guide will lay out all the rules for how to use colors, logos, etc, so any designer can reference it to produce consistent visuals. Even if you’re only using one designer, having a style guide can help them stay within their own boundaries, and maintain the look and feel they’ve worked hard to create throughout the event.

If you’re not sure where to start in developing your style guide, we created a step-by-step event branding manual to help you get it off the ground. (Psst, scroll to the end of the article to find it.)

Build a simple event site

Once you’ve made the rules, it’s time to party. Well, that is if you consider creating your event registration site “partying.” And hey, if building event sites doesn’t sound like fun to you…. have you met Swoogo?

Event sites should follow the #1, universal design principle: simplicity. The easier your site is for potential registrants to navigate and understand, the more likely they are to make it all the way through to checkout.

That doesn’t mean your event site can’t be fun; it just means you need to be mindful of what to include (and not.)

Your event details should live front and center. We recommend including them in your top banner on the initial landing page.

From there, it’s important to consider that your event agenda is your event branding—and is ultimately the reason anyone’s going to purchase tickets to your event. This should be your second tier of information and should link out to speaker pages and speaker content.

Tip: Include promotional blog content, videos from previous year’s events, testimonials from past participants, or anything to help prospects get a better idea of what your event is going to be like, and why it’s worth attending.

The key is to make sure that your information is laid out in a way that’s easy to understand and prioritizes the most important details of your event. While it’s a good idea to have a tagline and make sure your event branding voice is consistent, make sure to keep your copy to a minimum so your site functions as a quick read, especially for prospects who are accessing it on their mobile devices.

Promote it on social

Having a killer landing page and maintaining consistent style is an excellent first step––but we all know the saying about trees in forests, right? And the internet is a huge forest. Your site can be as beautiful as you want, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not getting any eyeballs.

The best and most cost-effective way to promote an event is through social media, and keeping your posts consistent with your style guide is a great way to extend your event branding out into other channels.

This is also an important reason to create your event site using a tool that’s totally front-end responsive. 80% of our total time spent on social media is via our phones. That means prospects who hear about you on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook are likely to click your link on their mobile, and you want to make sure you have total control of how your site looks and functions when they do.

Social promotion should, of course, start with posts from your owned channels. But with great speakers come great speaker audiences; partner marketing can be incredibly effective in promoting your event. 

This can and should include asking your speakers and sponsors to promote your event on their personal social channels, as well as looking to your partners to give your posts a boost. Don’t forget to utilize leadership personnel within your own organization for extra velocity. Make sure your CEO and directors are actively promoting your event on social, as they’re likely to have wide networks on at least one channel. Do some quick research of your team to see who has clout in the various spaces, and try to get those people involved as well. These people all act as extensions of your brand, and you’ll be well served by seeing how far you can reach.

You can also create branded communities for attendees to network before and after the event on Facebook or LinkedIn. Bring in your own style and voice, and foster conversations through thought starters and attendee spotlights. Introducing these event specific sub-sites is a great way to drive leads, and gives an easy pathway for attendees to share your content with their networks for even more reach.

Carry your event branding through 

Having an established style means your brand should remain clear, present, and consistent through every marketing touchpoint. That means branded and well-designed emails, written in your brand voice. Landing pages and social headers tailored to your established colors and style. Handouts and giveaways that are consistent with your event branding values and aesthetic.

The more familiar prospects and attendees become with your brand’s aesthetic, the more likely it is to stick in their minds—and ultimately lead to a purchase. It will always be tough to measure event payoff as far as mindshare, but you’ll definitely notice the impact of your brand when the leads start rolling in.

Need some extra help measuring your post-event success? Check out our on-demand webinar on How To Drive Success Through Events.

BONUS GUIDE

The Style Guide: 5 Steps to create a visual code for your event branding 

Style guides help you maintain a consistent brand across your event marketing lifecycle.

Your guide should have all the information you need to create your website, ads, emails. social posts, and anything else you need to attract attendees. Here’s how to make one:

Start with your logo.

Create rules for how to and not to use your mark— what background colors it can be displayed on, when to use an alternative version, where on the page it should be placed, and whether it’s allowed to be altered in any way (cropping, stretching, changing colors).

ex. Swoogo’s style guide allows for two different logos and logo colors, on specified backgrounds with no alterations. 

Determine a color palette.

Most of the time, your events will retain at least the primary color from your main event branding palette. However, it’s not always necessary to only use the colors that are associated with your brand day-to-day. If you’re going to use alternative colors, it’s important to keep them consistent—determine hex codes and CMYK values for each color you use.

ex. Swoogo’s palette includes one primary, two secondary, and two tertiary colors. 

Determine your fonts.

One of the most important pieces of making your event branding look & feel consistent throughout is choosing one or two fonts and sticking with them across all materials. Too much variety in fonts is confusing to the eye, and makes different pieces look completely unrelated.

ex. Swoogo uses one font in a variety of weights, including bold and italics. Acceptable type/background color pairings are also included. 

Set an image style.

Your image style determines what types of images are used throughout your event marketing materials. More often than not, we see event sites fail when they display unrelated, low-quality images. Determine what colors are acceptable in your images in order to maintain a similar aesthetic to your event branding, and make sure you are only using high-quality images. You can also talk about image tone—what kind of feeling you want the images to convey to your audience. 

Lock in your brand voice.

Talking the same way across your materials is just as important as looking the same way. A brand voice includes a tone and a persona—like a character that each writer should get into before speaking as your brand. You can assign this persona attributes, and make rules for what types of words and phrasing your brand does and doesn’t use for your event,

ex. Swoogo’s voice is characterized using a series of attributes and is backed up by concrete “this/not that” examples to help everyone speak the same way.