Clever Carly: 4 Steps to Build Your Meeting’s Brand

An effective branding guide meets the needs of clients—and attendees, too

Hello, dear planners!

I’ve been working on a project recently that requires a full-on rebrand and, boy, I forgot how involved it can be. From logos and messaging to meeting swag, branding covers nearly every aspect of an event. It’s a cohesive style guide that ultimately maps out the identity of a meeting and, when done effectively, connects with people. 

It’s no wonder, then, that there’s a lot of pressure to get branding guidelines right. 

So, if, like me, you’re embarking on a branding strategy for an upcoming meeting or event, here’s where you should start:

1. Understand your meeting purpose.

As with most strategic event endeavors, the first step in any branding initiative is to pinpoint the meeting’s goals. Because branding decisions will ultimately define the tone and identity of your event, it’s important that every element aligns with the core vision. 

Let’s say you’re hosting a Promote meeting with the intent of selling a new product. In theory, those sales might seem separate or irrelevant to the meeting’s logo, but the logo is part of your overarching marketing plan. Having background knowledge of key features can actually help inform the logo design

Consider Amazon, whose mission is to sell anything a consumer might want—every product from A to Z. And the retail giant’s logo reflects exactly that: An arrow points from the “A” to the “Z” in the clever design. 

2. Identify your audience.

Once you understand your meeting’s goals, it’s time to determine who your audience is—and with that, their preferences as well. Like I said before, successful branding resonates with people. 

If you’re trying to target a specific demographic, you should know what members of that demographic look for in an event so you can provide that experience. Gen Zers, for example, will have much different interests than baby boomers. Try sending out surveys to guest lists from similar past meetings to gauge their likes and dislikes. Keep your questions focused on the content and overall messaging of the event.

Or, if you’re planning for the future, try collecting attendee data in real time at a current or upcoming function.

3. Build your brand. 

Now that you have information from both sides of the branding puzzle, here comes the fun yet challenging part: building out your meeting’s brand identity. 

Again, branding can touch upon everything from color scheme and logo to meeting swag—as well as social media voice and overall messaging. And because branding can be so broad, your brainstorm team should be, too: The more creativity in the room, the better.

4. Test it.

Ta-da! You and your team have come up with a few branding concepts that would each align perfectly with meeting goals and intended audience. 

So, how to narrow it down? Because the success of your event ultimately sits with guests, present several ideas and ask which one they prefer. If your event doesn’t yet have a designated guest list—which, if you’re at the branding stage of planning, it likely doesn’t—reach out to past attendees from similar meetings to gather their thoughts. 

Of course, testing your ideas can help ensure that guests connect to your meeting’s message, but not all events will have time to deliberate. In that case, work with your team to pick the concept that fits best for both the client and attendees based on the information you’ve gathered. Then, execute it with confidence.

Although branding can be challenging, it’s often the most creative part of the planning process and the bow that ties all of your other efforts together. And who doesn’t like getting a beautiful present like that?

Until next time.

Plan well,
Clever Carly