What’s Your Event’s Story?
Designing Cohesive Events From Branding to Message
Everyone loves a good story—one with excitement, emotion, and captivating details. A story can immerse audiences in its plot and convey a powerful message. It is human nature to react positively to storytelling, which is why the most effective events follow similar elements to create informative, engaging experiences. For World Storytelling Day, we are exploring the relationship between stories and events, helping build engaging, cohesive events for your attendees.
Why Design Cohesive Events?
While this may be an obvious aspect of event design, lack of thoughtful cohesion plays a large part in why some events flop with guests. Creating a cohesive event goes far beyond matching the linens to the color palette. In corporate event management, an event’s branding, message, and theme must be woven throughout every aspect. From speakers to food and beverage to formatting, it should all have a familiar thread tying them together. Just as storytelling has essential elements—character, conflict, plot, setting, and resolution—an event does as well, and each one should feel thoughtful and purposeful.
Consider the characters in your event story: your attendees! What do you know about them, and how can you personalize their experience with that information? Providing multiple perspectives on your theme means giving each attendee an event that is tailored for their needs through information, networking, and preference. Modern event themes are flexible and adaptable to meet your attendees’ and sponsors’ priorities, infusing each interaction with a cohesive and consistent purpose.
Ask your speakers to touch on your theme or purpose, but ensure they are translating it through their own lens. Allow attendees to interact with the theme and make it their own. When Meeting Professionals International continued their message of “Stop planning meetings, start designing experiences,” for WEC 2018, they unpacked each segment of what their attendees needed in order to reach that goal. They created four WEC villages, each with its own theme that supported their main message, to provide multiple perspectives into what designing experiences means in different parts of the industry. This thoughtful design gave attendees a chance to see the theme at multiple angles.
Branding is how your event design and event marketing embody your business’s messaging and culture. This includes a powerful color story, as well as fonts, aesthetics, logos, and overall vibe. With dynamic branding, an event can send a strong message that will engage attendees and draw their focus to the story you are telling. When it comes to making decisions about event branding, consider the design elements that would best communicate the theme, and what kind of extras will further emphasize the message. Even details like name badges, photo filters for social media, and on-site signage can add to your event branding.
The best event branding stems from your company’s own culture and everyday business. This helps your event feel more organically tied to your business and ensures that your attendees will feel immediately connected to the theme. For a foolproof event theme, use your client or potential attendee data to find the describing words they would use for your business, then add an extra bit of specific direction that works toward your event purpose. Your event branding, theme, message, and purpose should all intersect for a cohesive event story.
Bringing your event theme or message through the communication can be an exciting way to build buzz. When potential attendees see an interesting theme and your event branding woven into communication, it piques their interest, convincing them this is an event they don’t want to miss. This also prepares attendees to think about what the theme means to them, helping them internalize your message and make it more personal.
Your communication should match your theme in every way. If your theme is “What The Future Holds” using an innovative augmented reality invitation shows that you are truly dedicated and knowledgeable on all of the upcoming trends. You aren’t just talking the talk, but putting your expertise in action to build a cohesive, informative event. Similarly, the theme should extend to your post-event communication to glean what feedback you can from attendees.
A Unified Universe
Perhaps the most obvious hallmark of a cohesive event that successfully tells a story is how well it creates a universe within its spaces. Building this universe means taking your branding and applying it across your event. From colors to verbiage to entertainment and speakers, each element of your story should feel like it is woven from the same fabric and belongs in the same universe.
We have seen corporate meetings and events gain depth in their themes through utilizing all the senses. Everyone enjoys a well-written story that includes details to transport you into its world, whether it is 1930s party at a mansion or a walk through the jungles of another planet. Even if your event has an abstract theme, it is important to design sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and touches that feel connected. For example, one session for a theme of “Shared Experiences” could use the communal feeling of a Caribbean island gathering as a theme: filling the room with the sound of a gentle surf crashing in the distance and percussive steel drums, smell of sunscreen, bright tropical colors and the feeling of warm balmy breezes. Offer up kiwi-lime pops, and Caribbean inspired food and drinks for guests to complete the experience.
When you are designing a trade show or working with sponsors, being consistent with guidelines and expectations is key to bringing together all of the disparate companies under your theme. From booth footprints to how they are expected to conform to your event colors, being consistent will ensure that each company has a chance to shine while supporting the event’s message.
This is the time for live events to shine; with an engaging story that immerses attendees in your world with cohesive branding, communication, and experiences, your event can expound on your company’s purpose in an exciting live environment. Corporate event management is one of our specialties, and we love seeing your company’s story unfold throughout an event’s elements. Let’s collaborate on your next event, and together tell a story that will reverberate with your attendees long after it closes.