Stop Changing Your Event Brand Every Year

October 23, 2016

Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller, president & chief strategist at Frost Miller, is a recognized marketing expert with more than 30 years of experience. He leads Frost Miller’s work with associations and trade show organizers in the U.S and abroad, to strategically improve event brands to compete in today’s markets and effectively promote events to a diverse range of target audiences. He can be reached at kmiller@frostmiller.com

An age-old debate has finally been resolved – by me, at least, anyway. A big mistake a lot of show organizers and marketing firms make is changing their event’s brand each year. This needs to stop.

Creating a new campaign for an annual trade show or conference is fine. In fact, it’s a necessary way to illustrate what’s new and different about your show. But changing the complete look and feel of your event each year - as many shows do - damages the show brand because it eliminates whatever brand equity you have built.

Think of it this way. What would you think if Starbucks changed its logo, colors and marketing message every year? You would be confused, and you would have a very hard time building a preference for the brand, because the brand would appear to change all the time.

A tradeshow or conference is no different. Coming up with a new theme each year - one that looks totally different than the year before - forces prospective participants to reassess the value of the show.

Instead, you should very carefully determine the benefits for exhibitors, sponsors, attendees, the media, and any other audiences for the event, and develop an overarching brand, or theme, for the show. Then stick with it. That brand, which is conveyed through a name, logo, graphics and messages, should be consistent from year to year.

Then, each year, you should decide what is new about this year’s event, and develop a campaign to support it. Sometimes, show organizers do that very effectively around a new location, or an important trend that will be highlighted at the show. Whatever the campaign becomes, it needs to tie into the brand, and not replace it. 

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