Experiential Marketing Branding Design

What Does Marketing Have to Do With Events?

By Heather Friedman on January, 31 2018
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Heather Friedman

In addition to marketing strategy, creative, branding, video and websites, de Novo also produces corporate events. At a recent client's holiday party, a longtime acquaintance approached me and asked "I knew you did all things marketing, but what do events have to do with marketing?" I smiled and gave her the much shorter version of this blog... 

Bring Your Brand to Life
Events are the only time you can truly bring your brand to life. By creating an experience for your employees, your clients, vendors and/or the general public that allows them to "live" the essence of your brand, you are reinforcing the messaging that you convey in all other forms of advertising. 
For example, Red Bull Energy Drink is known for being a high-energy, innovative brand that appeals to an active, creative and sometimes adventurous lifestyle. When designing events for Red Bull, I never once considered a subdued afternoon tea! Instead, we hosted ice climbing competitions, break dancing competitions that started at 1am and 24-hour LAN parties for gamers. Unique, unpredictable, non-conformist and fun, just like the brand.
Consider what your company is (or strives to be) known for and how you can illustrate that. When helping ProCircular with their branding and launch in 2016, we considered all aspects of the event and how it related to the new company. By creating an event that was designed to feel more like a conference than a ribbon-cutting, we illustrated the company's approach to its client relationships; every step of the way, ProCircular wants to educate and assist their clients with cyber security.
Bringing in speakers from the FBI and Homeland Security while hosting guests in Kinnick Stadium's Press Box showed the seriousness of the issues they help solve along with the friendly approachability of ProCircular employees. We even created a signature drink for the afternoon made with Club Mate, a favorite in the hacker community, to show the in-depth industry understanding that ProCircular possesses. We were able to reinforce the authenticity the CEO brings to the industry and provide a low pressure way for business leaders to learn more about the new company. 
Reinforce Key Messages
An event can help a company in transition and communicate key messages in a non-verbal way. Several years ago a client approached us with a challenge—they had recently changed leadership because their beloved CEO passed away and there was much concern among the staff that there would be major changes to the company culture and that the new leadership would likely replace policies and people. They hired us to create an event that paid homage to previous leadership and reassured employees that business would continue as usual. We created a holiday party that stressed the company's values and family environment. 
Another client's annual event has become so well known that they are now able to leverage it as a recruiting and retention tool. In fact, according to their Human Resources department, they have had candidates inquire about party attendance during interviews and have noticed a sharp drop in resignations the months prior to and immediately following their party. 
It's All in the Details
While we start with brand attributes, key messaging and event purpose in broad brushstrokes, the details are really where these things come to life.  
Our latest corporate holiday party was produced for Marion-based ESCO Group, a company specializing in electrical construction. One of the projects completed recently was a local event venue, so we hosted the holiday party there so the engineers, project managers and electricians could see the finished product. Their portion of a project is often wrapped up before the rest of the building is finished, so this was a rare opportunity for them to enjoy the fruits of their labor. 
For this event, we selected the theme—Let's Make a Deal—to celebrate a very successful year and showcase the functionality and beauty of their work. From the invitations to the decor, we reinforced the game show's look and feel. Blue, silver and gold linens, personalized bars and a rousing game of Let's Make a Deal was led by the company's CEO. Tables were decorated with gifts and at the end of the game an announcement was made that each guest could choose a gift, which either contained a great prize or a Zonk prize as utilized in the game show. All guests tore into the packages, wrapped in custom wrapping paper featuring their logo, to find cash, gift cards or Zonk gifts like socks and taco meal kits. 
The Party Doesn't Have to End
A successful event is one that attendees will remember fondly long after the party ends and the swag bag is empty. But the most effective events—the ones attendees look forward to year after year—are the ones that stay true to your brand's core values so attendees walk away not only remembering your event, but understanding who you are as a company. They speak to your clients, customers, staff, vendors or investors in a genuine and unexpected way. They show you're willing to put extra thought and effort to thank attendees; that you'll go the extra mile. And importantly for your business, they give you a return on investment in the form of loyal customers and employees, referrals and glowing reviews. 
Want to align your next annual event, team retreat or product launch with your strategic marketing plan? Yep—we can help you do just that. Contact de Novo Partner, Heather, to get the party started.
  Get the Party Started. 

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