Events with Strong Brands See Big Benefits

March 30, 2016

By Elizabeth Johnson

‘Branding’ is perhaps the most commonly used, but most commonly misunderstood, word in business. Reactions to brands, such as Coca-Cola or Apple, are immediate. An organization or product with a strong brand may compel people to instantly think of its logo, or tagline or jingle. A brand, by definition is all of those things and more - it’s everything we think about a particular organization or product.

A strong event brand offers its audiences a promise on the value it will deliver. And then, it uses communications tools to deliver the message of that promise.  A strong brand also informs all of the programming and operational decisions of the show. Events of all sizes and scopes that have invested in intentional branding campaigns have seen real benefits in event growth, awareness attendee satisfaction and achievement of the event owner’s broader business goals, mission and vision.

For years, SCANPO (South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations) used a theme to promote the SCANPO Annual Conference. That theme didn’t necessarily have much to do with the topics discussed.

“In 2014, we underwent a rebranding effort, evolving the Conference to a Summit and ultimately naming it, ‘South Carolina Nonprofit Summit hosted by SCANPO’ so that event belongs to the sector rather than the organization,” said Madeleine McGee, president of SCANPO.

Since the rebrand, the state-wide summit has grown by almost 50 percent requiring it to move to a larger venue to accommodate more attendees in 2016. A second benefit is that it opened the door for subsector groups to convene their own constituents at the summit. Finally, the name was less cumbersome and offered SCANPO flexibility to strengthen the organization’s brand in the future apart from the event.

DDW (Digestive Disease Week) is sponsored by four organizations. It built a brand that incorporated elements, such as color, from each of the organizations in 2010. The goal of the brand is that it was recognized by attendees from year-to-year and to prospects around the world.

“With a strong brand, we are able to have name recognition around the world,” said Alison Moser, director of marketing at American Gastroenterological Association. “It’s hard to find someone in the GI field who doesn’t know about DDW!”

ISC West and ISC East security industry shows work together under the same overall brand, but have very different audiences and positioning. While ISC West is the larger, global opportunity for the entire supply chair to come together to see what is new for their business, the value-proposition for ISC East, until recently, wasn’t as clearly defined.  

Just under five years ago, ISC East was struggling; declining in attendance and exhibit space, when Reed Exhibitions rebranded the event.

“We did a lot of research - both qualitative and quantitative - we conducted focus groups, identified pinch points and conducted ethnography where we literally walked in our attendees shoes,” said Ed Several, senior vice president at Reed.

That in-depth research to really understand the customer needs went a long way in shaping a brand that today targets the right people with exactly what they are looking for. ISC East is highly targeted to the middle of the security distribution chain. Its square footage sales, attendee satisfaction scores and net promoter scores are all up and the show is growing rapidly.

Another well-branded event, ‘The Liver Meeting’ was a result of attendees nicknaming the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) and for years, the brand was delivering great results, but after a while, there was a catch - no one knew AASLD sponsored the event.

AASLD took a three-step process to align the two brands so that both could benefit from each other’s value. As a result, membership in the association grew 38 percent between 2011 and 2015.

“Now we’re able to tie the value of the meeting brand to the association,” said AASLD Director of Marketing Martha Sauchuk. “We use the event as a platform to introduce attendees to our other offerings, such as membership, online education, and our smaller events.”


Once it’s clear an event benefits from an intentional branding effort, the next step is to learn how to brand an event. Tune in to TSNN’s free webinar, “Don’t Let Your Brand Itself” on April 14 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about event branding. Complimentary registration is HERE

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.