The pivot from live to virtual and hybrid events has meant that event planners have been faced with a major change of priority. Instead of finding a great live event venue, many are focused on finding a virtual event platform that ticks every box. Something that hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of event branding. One of the functions of an event is to increase brand awareness, so it remains vital to put virtual event branding at the forefront of the planning process like Logitech did for their Dream Different global sales conference.
But virtual event branding isn’t necessarily the same as its in-person event counterpart. What’s different about virtual event branding? And how can you maximize branding opportunities within a virtual environment?
How Is Virtual Event Branding Different from Branding an In-Person Event?
Whether live, virtual or hybrid, events of all kinds have huge potential to boost brand awareness. From half-day or full-day events to huge, international, weeklong events, they offer lots of opportunities to interact with a target demographic.
At events of all kinds, both the content and the venue can be used to generate touchpoints for brand recognition—and branding plays a central role in designing the event environment. This is important for both live and virtual event branding. But while the principles of branding are much the same, in practice, the unique nature of the virtual event environment must be considered.
In fact, this unique nature can make well-executed event branding highly cost-effective. It’s actually easier to create a cohesive brand image across multiple digital channels than it is to create a cohesive brand image across both digital and live channels. Since everything is online, you don’t have to take the extra—often expensive—step of having graphics turned into signage and printed materials.
However, there is a downside. With virtual event branding, it’s harder to get a high level of brand activation and interaction than it is when people are physically at your event. This, again, is due to the unique nature of the live event environment. In this case, it’s about environment ownership.
When attendees visit your event venue in person, they’re in your world, in an environment you’ve created. When people log in to a virtual event from their own homes or from their workplaces, though they’re visiting your virtual environment, ultimately, they’re still in their own world. You may not (always) have a captive audience. Instead, you have an audience that you risk losing to distractions at home or at work.
For branding purposes, that often means it’s harder to retain attention for long periods of time and therefore harder to make an impact, which can put a damper on brand activation. But that doesn’t make it impossible. There are things you can do to take full advantage of virtual branding and stay on your attendees’ minds.
First Principles Work Best for Virtual Event Branding
When you’re working on brand messaging for virtual events, it’s more important than ever to stick to the important branding principles:
Be authentic. Your brand messaging has to convey a sense of trust and authority in order to be seen as authentic: quality messaging that speaks to your target demographic at their level, using their language.
Be original. Branding needs to convey the reasons why attendees should care about your brand. What sets you apart from the competition? What do you do that nobody else is doing?
Be meaningful. This is where you really have to know your audience. If you understand who they are and what they need, you can craft branding messages that resonate.
Be consistent. Brand messaging should be consistent across all channels and locations, everywhere you interact with your audience. Consistency helps your brand feel familiar and authentic, and it builds a sense of trust.
How to: Build Your Virtual Event Brand
Start with an event identity.
A strong event brand starts with strong visuals: colors, fonts, and other design elements that work together to create a cohesive look. As well as this, the event theme should be part of the overall identity and be relevant to both your brand and to your target demographic. An event identity should be distinctive but easy to recognize as part of the company brand, the way Logitech represented their brand at their Dream Different global sales conference.
Be consistent in deploying marketing messages.
Once you’ve designed a theme and identity, with visuals to match, it’s important to make sure that all of those elements are used consistently across all your marketing materials, in all channels. That means your website, emails, social media accounts, and any other place where your event has a presence. Any communication you have with your attendees should include some form of branding, and your branding should be consistent and cohesive all the way through.
Brand your virtual event environment.
It also includes the event environment itself, of course. Your virtual event branding should stay consistent throughout the duration of the event, from start to finish. If you’re using a virtual environment, for instance, your branded content and advertising should include the same themes and visuals that you designed for pre-event marketing. This ensures you can continue to build brand awareness and recognition, and keep that momentum going for as long as possible.
Make sure your speakers and presenters are on message too.
At live events, speakers and other presenters typically do their thing in a branded space. Make sure they can still do so at your virtual event. For instance, create a virtual background presenters use when they hold their sessions.
Don’t forget the swag!
Swag is perennially popular at live events, and it’s an important part of the branding campaign. So, it makes good sense to offer swag at your virtual event too. You have a couple of options here:
One is to design digital swag, full of digital rather than physical items: gift cards, discount coupons, and other value-added items they can redeem and use online.
Then there’s the more traditional option, but with a twist. Attendees can’t visit booths to pick up swag, but you can send it to them. Distributing physical swag bags to virtual event attendees takes planning, but it can be worth the time you spend. Or you can use a website like Swag.com to customize a swag box and arrange to have it shipped to attendees.
For larger events, physical swag may be too costly or complicated. When that’s the case, digital swag is a great fallback.
Branding Is a Vital Cornerstone of a Great Event, and That Includes Virtual
For both live and virtual events, branding is a critical part of hosting a success. When attendees log in to a virtual event, it’s important that they associate the virtual environment with your brand—and that association needs to stay strong and consistent throughout the duration of the event. To achieve the best results, start your brand-building with a clear vision and identity, and carry it through every attendee touchpoint from beginning to end.
Learn more at Beyond Live!