Effective branding is a key touch point in any successful event. But to market your brand well, you have to know it inside and out. For this reason, going back to the branding basics and remembering your “why” is helpful for every event marketer from time to time. Building a brand your audience will love and connect with takes intentionality, but the rewards are sky high!
First things first, let’s debunk a common branding myth: your brand is your name, your logo, your fonts, or your colors. While these are all important elements of your brand and give it a visual identity that will help your audience recognize you — your brand goes so much deeper than visual markers.
A quick foray into history: in the 19th century, the word “brand” simply referred to the name for a product or service that helps you identify its owner or producer. In other words, brand and brand name meant the same thing. But as the late 20th century rolled around, marketers decided that there was more to marketing distinctive products and services than a name alone.
British advertising guru and businessman David Ogilvy said it this way: brand is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes. Even more importantly, the attributes of a product or service are perceived in a particular way by an audience — and perception is everything.
Arguably, your real brand is how your customers perceive you, because their perceptions of your brand influence its success more than any other factor. Good marketers continually develop their brands to influence consumers, giving them the desired perception so that they’ll stick around for the long and loyal haul.
Simply put: because perception is reality for your potential customers. Here’s an example from the UK that proves this point. (The full details of the experiment can be found in this book.) For many people in the UK, Heinz is the preeminent brand of baked beans. One of their competitors decided to check this assumption using a blind taste test. In the blinded study, two thirds of participants preferred the competitor’s baked beans over the Heinz brand. But when presented with the brand names, participants overwhelmingly preferred Heinz.
This is why a brand matters so deeply — our perceptions of a brand literally have the power to change what we prefer. In this taste test, nothing changed except for what the participants could see, and yet, Heinz “tasted better” when the brand name was unveiled. Our brains are easily influenced, and effective branding knows exactly how to influence them. 4 Keys to Developing an Effective Brand
If a brand is the sum of a product’s attributes, then marketing communicates those attributes to the target audience in a way that delivers value. Successful brands engage heavily in brand development, which is the continuous process of defining, refining, and testing an overall brand strategy. Want to start building your brand in a way that truly works? Incorporate these four things:
To create marketing campaigns that work for your target audience, you must know them well. Define your dream demographic and seek to understand their needs, pain points, hopes, and psychographics. When you understand your audience, you can design an experience that meets them where they are and offers them a way to achieve their goals and desires.
Vague marketing efforts leave things to chance — which means there is a high chance those efforts will fail. Marketing to an unidentified and undefined audience is unlikely to reach the right people. This may sound obvious, but we sit down with many clients who are afraid of narrowly defining their ideal customer and targeting solely them in their marketing. However, as counterintuitive as it seems, by marketing to a specific audience, you’ll actually reach a wider one.
Consider the Nike brand. They typically market to young athletes. But who wears Nike? Almost everyone! From young kids to moms to retirees, the brand appeals to many, even though they target a select few. So don’t be afraid to shoot at a narrow target. Think of the audience your event cannot survive without, and build your brand for them by creating a narrative-format client avatar to use in every marketing effort. The others will likely show up along the way.
2. Make your brand tangible.
To make your brand “real” to your audience, evoke the five senses. This is often called sensational marketing. Our bodily sensations help determine the decisions we make even without our conscious awareness, so consider ways to market your brand through sounds, tastes, smells, and touch instead of relying exclusively on visual elements like logos and colors. These efforts may seem unconventional, but by reaching your audience in sensory ways, you’ll grab their attention.
Recently Dunkin’ Donuts ran a campaign using sensational marketing on municipal buses. Every time a Dunkin’ Donuts jingle played over the speakers, an atomizer released a coffee aroma — and the results were notable. This sensory campaign increased visits to Dunkin’ Donuts near bus stops by 16%, and sales at those retailers by 29%. This is the power of sensational marketing.
3. Make your brand relatable.
As humans, we were designed to connect with one another. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools marketers have to relate to potential customers or attendees on a human level. You can use storytelling as a tool during your events, in your video marketing, and even through copywriting and sales presentations.
Relatability can often be found in case studies and testimonials. Share stories of your existing customers with your potential customers, and let them draw their own connections. Sharing stories through video or in-person communication can turn stale presentations or drawn-out meetings into warm, honest, and open conversations with potential clients.
By making your brand relatable, you build trust with your audience. When you understand their story, they believe you can offer a solution to their pain point. Relating to your audience through story can influence their perception of you in positive, powerful ways.
Just like a child learns more from touching a hot stove than they would from a thousand warnings from their mother not to do so, surprise is a powerful teacher. While we’re not suggesting you surprise your audience with a painful experience, the element of surprise is a tool that’s well worth using to your advantage in positive ways.
When the unexpected happens, our brains produce norepinephrine, which is linked to action and learning. These unexpected moments can be simple, like offering a free sample or digital download. They can also be informed by your audience’s opinions. For example, if you host a recurring event with an element that got negative feedback, change it up next time to give your attendees what they want most!
While we know that surprise does not always begin as a positive or welcomed encounter, marketers and event organizers can use surprise to prompt the action responses (like purchases and elevated brand loyalty) they want to see.
Making your brand relevant, tangible, relatable, and surprising serves one ultimate purpose: connecting with the audience you care about most. At Redstory, we think human connection should be the prime endeavor of every marketing campaign or live event. We want our work to create, communicate, and deliver value to people. If you’re looking for a marketing agency that puts people first, we’d love to work with you.