Events can be an important tool for building brand awareness. Unlike other forms of marketing which tend to be digitally led, events revolve around an in-person experience that allows brands to place themselves – quite literally – in front of their audience. A great brand awareness event should be memorable and meaningful, allowing you (the company) to develop a more personal relationship with your existing and prospective customers.
There are lots of ways to build brand awareness at an event, from leveraging social media to decorating your venue accordingly. We spoke to the marketing director and co-founder of Techspace, Phil Ellis, about his approach.
‘Events can be an incredibly powerful way to generate brand awareness, but it can also help build brand visibility and ultimately drive lead generation too. One of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness from an event is to trigger your audience in a way where they feel compelled to share their experience with others (whether that's down the pub later in the week, or right there and then on Instagram).
‘Some of the best event experiences have a "wow" moment, or for those brands that find that daunting, think of it as a 'talking point' that can't be ignored. Examples could include a jaw dropping venue which creates a spectacle, or perhaps a surprise A-list guest speaker invited to a conference.’
It’s not just the how that’s important, but the why. Why hold an event in the first place? The power of real interactions and authentic connections should not be underestimated. Events unlock huge brand-building potential, which ultimately allows you to reach a wider audience through positive word-of-mouth.
Below, we delve a little deeper into the best ways to increase brand awareness at your event, including what it is and why it’s important.
What is brand awareness?
The clue really is in the name. Brand awareness refers to how recognisable your brand is to your audience. When people see your logo, name or product, what do they think? More importantly, what do you want them to think?
Boosting brand awareness involves teaching people what your brand is, does and represents, so have a good think about what you stand for before going ahead with a major marketing campaign.
Still not sure what we’re talking about? You only have to look at companies like Nike, Google and Apple to understand the power of having a strong brand. They've built such strong brand identities that people barely think twice before buying a product from them. Not only that, but people openly identify with the brand and quite literally ‘buy in’ to who they are and what they represent.
In a nutshell, brand awareness:
- Creates trust and develops loyalty with your audience
- Increases reach of voice within a saturated market
- Helps you reach new audiences and demographics
- Drives lead generation and conversions
To build brand awareness, you must:
- Be consistent with your messaging
- Engage with your audience
- Encourage positive conversations about your brand
The power of events: what can they do for your brand?
With so many digital marketing tools offering instant, and often free, solutions when it comes to brand building, events might be lower down your priority list. Here’s why you should give them some love.
Events can do something that tools like social media and emails can’t: they allow you to engage with your audience face-to-face. In a world that’s increasingly reliant on digital media and looking at screens, physical interaction is a rare thing and shouldn’t be underestimated.
For Phil, they’re a no-brainer: ‘Unlike other mediums in Marketing (which rely on digital interfaces), events allow brands to create an experience in-person. This can strengthen customer familiarity with the brand and generate more trust and loyalty at the same time. Not to mention, in-person interactions and presentations from the event experience can also allow brands to move customers forward in the buyer journey, by educating them about the product and associated benefits.’
That’s not to say you shouldn’t leverage other forms of digital media at your event. In fact, when used in tandem, their impact can be stratospheric.
‘In-person events also allow brands to capture the event experience through a camera lens and broadcast to a wider audience through the likes of social media,’ Phil explains. ‘Done badly, this can have the adverse affect, but great brands use events to create a unique experience as an extension of the brand's identity (giving customers the chance to meet their idols, keynote speakers and other customers like them) whilst broadcasting this magical content to a wider audience on social media.’
In conclusion, events are a multi-faceted tool that allow you to communicate with your audience in multiple ways in order to leave a lasting impression that (hopefully) they want to tell their friends about.
6 effective ways to build brand awareness at events
Before you go ahead with these top tips, make sure you’ve already nailed down exactly who you are as a brand. This includes establishing your tone of voice, ethos, brand colours, logo and identifying who your target audience is. Once you've figured that bit out, you can think about planning a stellar brand-building event.
1. Choose the right venue
We stated at the beginning of this article that a great brand awareness event should be memorable and meaningful, and that starts with your venue. Choose a venue that makes a statement, whether that’s through eye-catching design or state-of-the-art facilities. You want to capture your audience's attention from the moment they step through the door, so choosing a fantastic location is a great way to do this.
Next, it’s really important to choose a venue that aligns with your brand and ethos. If you make sustainable products, then you probably want to choose a venue that has similar eco-friendly credentials. If you’re targeting a Gen-Z audience, then a fun and trendy venue is more likely to resonate than something that’s austere and corporate. The type of event will affect the type of venue too. Do you need a theatre space to host a presentation? Or do you require something open plan to allow people to wander around and mingle?
Venues such as The Lightwell in Shoreditch offer customisable spaces to fit your exact requirements.
We’ve got a ton of venue guides across the capital to help you in your search. Find the best sustainable venues in London, check out these cool and quirky venues for hire, or take a look at London’s best light, bright and modern venues.
2. Decorate the space
They say it’s what's on the inside that counts, but when it comes to building your brand identity, what's on the outside is just as important. Make your brand stand out from the off with eye-catching visuals.
Incorporate your brand assets wherever possible, from a cohesive colour scheme to your font and logo. This could be as straight forward as ensuring all signage has your logo on it, but if you have the budget, then branded merchandise is a nice touch (and gives your attendees something to take home with them!). There are lots of visual ways to add branding to your event, including banners, exhibition stands, goodie bags and stage design.
3. Get social
Social media is one of the best tools you have at your fingertips when it comes to boosting brand awareness. It can be used to increase reach of voice and encourage customer engagement in a fun, familiar and easy way. There are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage:
Consider working with influencers
Partnering with influencers is a useful way to reach more people at your event, because it essentially allows you to piggyback on someone with a bigger, or more targeted, following than you. Think about inviting a few relevant people in your industry to your event, preferably with a following that you would like to tap into. If you have the budget and you want to guarantee their attendance, you can always think about a paid partnership with an influencer in exchange for a specific type and amount of content across their social channels.
Create shareable content
Creating shareable content can be hugely valuable when it comes to getting your brand in front of more eyes. Encouraging your attendees to talk about your event and share it with their friends is a great way to launch your brand to a new demographic. Not only that, but people are much more inclined to trust their friends over a brand they’ve never heard of.
Use a hashtag
Another easy, and totally free, way to create buzz around your event is to develop a specific hashtag for people to use if they want to post about it. Keep it succinct and snappy, and make sure it clearly conveys the message of your brand and/or event. It also makes it easy to track who posted about you before, during and after the day.
4. Make it as interactive as possible
Again, you can use social media to do this, but there are lots of ways to engage your audience that extend beyond posting. Incorporate games, activities and entertainment throughout the day that not only make your event fun but actually encourage your audience to do something while they’re there. Interactive displays, Q&As, giveaways, panel discussions and challenges are just some examples.
5. Use your people
Remember, the people representing your company are one of the most important and effective brand ambassadors you have in your arsenal. On a practical level, you could create branded t-shirts for staff to wear on the day, so your team are easy to recognise in case anyone has any questions. Remember, you are representing your brand, so be polite and make sure your knowledge is up to scratch.
6. Create FOMO
We’d argue one of the best ways to get people talking about your brand is to host an event that’s too good to miss! Hire an epic venue, invite well-known figures to speak, put on delicious catering and host some brilliant activities. In short, make it so amazing that it’s impossible not to talk about it. Remember, hosting a brand event is all about showcasing who you are - so tell people! Explain your story via valuable face time, allow them to ask questions about you, and focus on being as authentic as possible to create loyalty and trust.
Want to host an event but don't quite have the budget? Find out how to secure a sponsor for your event with our essential guide.