Brand aware

Successful event branding helps generate repeat business for future events. So how do you stop your brand from being lost when you’re creating an event’s look, feel and logo?

How do you protect your event’s identity from being stolen when it literally can take blood, sweat and tears to create event elements, branding and logos that are unique and memorable? Now there’s a question… and one that can make you wonder whether there is longevity in your logo?

For an event to differentiate itself and develop a significant following the event’s identity plays a critical role. Successful event branding is an essential element to enable guests to identify with the brand responsible for the event and can help generate repeat business for future events. So says Jonathan Booth, account director at Sunbaba.

“For many events, the investment made by corporate sponsors makes them financially viable and therefore a key stakeholder,” Booth suggests. “Consequently it is down to the organiser to make sure that sponsorship branding is appropriate for the event and that it does not dilute the core values associated to the event’s identity. This can be done be finding common ground between the sponsors objectives and those of the event organiser. Many festivals within the UK have done this with particular success. Lovebox a festival held in Victoria Park each July, allows sponsors to theme individual stages, drawing on themes that are playful and original. Areas like the Gaymers Tree House and the Favela style bar for Sagatiba, both added value to the Lovebox festival by creating unique one off experiences that wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsor’s investment.”

According to Booth, relevant theming is essential to ensure the events identity is not lost, the Jack Daniels Birthday Set, held this year at The Clapham Grand, incorporated stunning imagery to transform the London venue into a Nashville Music Hall. Increasingly sponsors are realising that the events identity is just as important as that of their brand and this is making it easier for event organisers to create events with a strong personality that also delivery results for their sponsors.

Building your brand

For recurring events a lack of consistency with branding is another factor that can lead to an events identity being lost. Hence, it’s important to avoid the temptation to revisit the event’s look and feel continuously. Consistent logo and colour themes can help establish an events identity over time and the re-use of branding assets can save money. Events which constantly change their appearance end up confusing consumers and the strength of their brand is lost.

So how do you get round this issue? Andrew Hodson, sales and marketing director at Icon, says that the first and most basic answer is to engage an experienced professional to work with you. A trusted partner who will correctly interpret and apply all the brand/sponsor elements tastefully, keeping true to the agreed identity.

The second point is organisers must be engaged early in the process.

He comments: “Our best results have come from being able to spend time from the very early stages with the clients and their creative design teams to develop themes that we are all happy with and that reflect the brand(s), whilst offering practicality in terms of print and application.”

Events such as UEFA Euro 2008 and the FIFA World Cup South Africa will base their look around a set of central components: The logo mark, primary elements, an agreed colour palette, designated fonts or families of fonts, sponsor integration and wayfinding principles.

These will then be adapted according to application, explains Hodson, and then worked on to determine which elements are to be used in given areas e.g. Media, Hospitality, On-Camera.

Icon’s is working on “Kit of Parts” development, where it applies the event identity across every piece of branded equipment – from venues, to city dressing, transport livery and even clothing and merchandise in some cases. This doesn’t detract from the value of the original creative – it’s more of an extrapolation process, where hands-on knowledge of the actual applications is invaluable.

Hodson continues: “The most successfully branded events rely on developed shapes and colours and steer away from emblazoning everything with a logo and risking overkill. For example, the Champions League Starball and the wave effects used so successfully at the last two World Cups. This is helped by building familiarity with the brand from an early point – through launch events, press conferences etc leading up to the main event, and supported by point of sale and experiential activities. Advance branding of points of arrival – airports, train stations etc – helps to build the brand, awareness and excitement and can support “year to go events” and the like.”

But there’s also the physical side of the event branding programme – making sure everything is tailored to fit properly and efficiently. A thorough survey schedule needs to be undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity to establish: budget, scope, install requirements, infrastructure supplier integration (branding contractor engaging with tentage and grandstand suppliers to ensure integral solutions) and the appropriate use of materials and responsible post-event disposal.

Sunbaba has recently teamed up with the Treehugger Truck service, and can now collect all unwanted recyclable materials, following events in and around the London area, and reprocess the materials to be used again.

Hodson believes that significant onus for the brand continues to lie with production and quality control management – ensuring colour consistency across all materials used (often resulting in numerous samples being produced), overseeing output from internal production and outsourced supplies to ensure that they all meet the pre-established benchmarks. It’s important that everybody engaged in the production process – colleagues as well as suppliers – all subscribe to the guidelines that will have been laid down.

Then it’s all geared up to ensuring that goods arrive in the right place at the right time – in other words, logistics. If all branding elements can be installed within the agreed deadlines it will leave the proper amount of time for snagging and enhancement before the event starts. Throwing it all up at the last minute is a recipe for disaster.

Inherent in this is the fact that the install teams have to understand finished quality requirements. It’s no good having beautifully produced items if they are badly installed. In summary it’s an end-to-end process that really needs to be started early and seen through by a core team.