Magazine article Marketing

Living the Brand at Corporate Events: The Corporate Bash Is Becoming a Full-Blown 'Brand Experience'. (Design)

Magazine article Marketing

Living the Brand at Corporate Events: The Corporate Bash Is Becoming a Full-Blown 'Brand Experience'. (Design)

Article excerpt

Design consultancies specialising in corporate events are starting to recognise that set design, graphics, audio-visual presentations and display areas are only a part of a wider picture these days. Events are being described as 'brand experiences' -- and ensuring the target audience 'lives the brand' is as important as a sexy exhibition stand.

The global communications group Interpublic has even coined the term 'experiential agencies' for its specialist subsidiaries, such as Jack Morton Worldwide and the Momentum Group UK. "Our principal thought is about aligning the event with the brand," says Simon Lethbridge, a creative director at Jack Morton. "It is about reflecting brand values and bringing the brand to life.

"Clients want audiences to experience the brand to a degree that was perhaps not so much the case in the past. The distinction is blurring between the design of stands and corporate events. Units designed for the first are being used for displays at the second, giving better value."

Design in the context of events is really a synonym for the thought process that creates the whole experience, says Derrick Tuke Hastings, chairman of the Park Avenue agency.

When Nissan introduced the Primera, Park Avenue advised against the usual international dealer launch at some sunspot in the Med. The best way to communicate the brand values, it argued, was to fly the dealers to Sunderland, to what they claim is Europe's most productive car plant.

And although Park Avenue had to make its case to doubting executives at Nissan, that is exactly what happened. Delegates went through a 'brand experience' that was specially built on site. They talked to workers on the production line, and ate in the works canteen. Finally they went to the quayside, where 5000 spanking new Primeras were lined up, ready to be shipped to their showrooms.

"It was highly successful," Tuke Hastings says. "The dealers got a much better understanding of Nissan's teamwork approach than they would ever have got from a video."

This was an international event where it was possible to bring all the interested parties to a single site. But different problems arise where global corporations are communicating with global customers.

Cable & Wireless has refocused in the past two or three years from digital TV, mobile telephony, and business telephone services, to data and the internet.

"Our markets are now much narrower, and we find that the motivators for buying our services, such as network reliability and product service, are broadly the same across the world," notes Mark Davis, vice-president for marketing services.

"Corporate events are critical to our communications. Face-to-face communication is at the heart of the strategy, but we need to do it in a totally consistent way."

Working with its suppliers, including ad agency McCann-Erickson and Jack Morton Worldwide, the company has developed an internet-based 'creative gallery' that includes complete presentations, images, designs, and technical information in local languages.

According to Davis, this has not only delivered the brand consistency the company requires. It has also stripped millions of pounds out of marketing costs because material only needs to be created once.

But not all corporate events are concerned with speaking to outside customers. Internal communications has recently risen up the marketing agenda, with an increasing emphasis, particularly in service industries, on encouraging staff to 'live the brand'. …

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