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Event brand loyalty at The Business of Events

Great events begin with strategic objectives, says branding expert

Posted on May 16th, 2019 in Brand Expression, Customer-Centricity, Event Legacy, Event News, Experience Economy, Memorable Experiences

Branding experts all over the world will tell you the same thing: customers want a reason to buy from you. It’s no longer enough to have a good product, service or event – especially with so many other options available – so you have to put in the effort to get people to form an emotional connection with you.

Aaron Langer, founder of Hook and Arrows, has worked in TV, branding and in the experiential space with some huge brands, and he spoke to the TBOE 2019 audience about how to improve the brand loyalty of events.

Creating brand expression

No matter what industry you’re in, developing a strong brand has never been so important. This goes beyond just redesigning a logo or updating your website, it means giving something that customers can connect with.

Aaron said, “It’s not what brands say any more, it’s really what brands do. It used to be about tag lines – ‘we have a brand, we have a tagline, we have a product’ – and it’s just become so much more than that these days.”

“The internet, social media, everything has changed that. People are looking to connect with brands in a much different way. We come into this generation of ‘what’s in it for me?’ – it’s not millennials, it’s all of us. ‘I’m going to give my time and space to a brand, there’s got to be something in it for me’. “

“When we go ahead and start that strategy, we think about what’s in it for our customers. That’s where we start. We try to understand all the different stakeholders and how to fulfil their needs.”

Taking inspiration from those doing it well

Creating a strong brand expression isn’t a new thing and Aaron was happy to share an example of a company excelling in this regard: Nike.

Nike has a reputation of supporting some of the world’s best athletes, while also selling products to the everyday person. To connect these two audiences, they created an ad that showed that sometimes brilliance comes in unexpected forms. For this, they used NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who had been in the news for taking a stand against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. This saw him labelled a hero by some and unpatriotic by others.

Nike went into their campaign knowing it would divide people – and, sure enough, it resulted in some people burning their Nike products in protest. However, the campaign evoked a strong reaction in their target demographic – with $31m in sales created on the back of the video.

Why strategy is so important

Because of the nature of events, it can be harder to build brand loyalty and love than with companies that have more regular interactions with their customers, however it’s not impossible.

Whatever you’re doing, there has to be a good reason. This links back to your strategy and the brand expression that you’re trying to implement.

Aaron said, “How many of you have brought cool ideas or had cool ideas brought to you? You can’t bring ideas that are just ‘cool’, there’s got to be a reason. If you can’t explain what that reason is, then don’t bring it. It’s really got to align to that brand, that brand expression.”

“Without strategy, no one will commit money to your projects, they won’t commit to you. They won’t want you in the room anymore.”

“If you’re really good at convincing people and you do something without strategy, that’s the worst-case scenario. Then you have this event that just is sort of wonky, doesn’t really work. You have an audience that doesn’t really feel it. Everything you do just implodes at that point. The one who gets hurt the most is the brand.”

How do you make an event strategic? 

It may sound like a simple question, but you’d be surprised at the number of events that are run without a clear strategy or vision. For Aaron, having strategy is about having goals and consistency, something that you also need to create a strong brand expression.

He said, “It’s really simple. It’s a roadmap. You have to know where you’re going, why you’re going there and what it looks like when you get there. It’s all about those outcomes.”

“I don’t really look at it as return on investment because I think it’s really tricky to quantify that. You’re investing x amount of dollars into an event, how’s that brand going to see return? You can really agree on return on objectives. so really understanding what those objectives are up front – how many people, how many touch points, how much throughput do you want – there’s lots of ways to measure it. It’s just about agreeing on that right from the start what those objectives are.”

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