Yes, Your Conference is a Brand


Yes, your conference is a brand.

So start treating it like one!

The Words Annual Meeting Are Out!

If you’re still using Annual Meeting in your conference brand, you’re showing your age.

Most association bylaws require an annual meeting of the membership. It’s the organization’s business portion of the conference usually for paid members.

But using the words Annual Meeting in your conference brand is outdated. It does not elicit a positive emotional connection with your attendance targets.

Well, it does elicit a negative emotional response for some of your attendees. And that’s just not the response that you want.

The Evolving Annual Meeting

Your annual meeting first started as a gathering of the organization’s members in good standing. It has probably evolved to include education and networking experiences, a show floor, and perhaps a call to action for your profession. And, yes it probably still includes an actual annual business meeting.

If you’re like most associations, the actual annual meeting/business portion isn’t well attended. It is not the primary reason people register. Often attendees must be persuaded with free food to participate. Or they are ambushed with the business meeting during a general session.

If that sounds like your association, it’s time to move on and deliver on your education and networking promise! It’s time to evolve.

The Purpose Of A Brand

A recognizable brand is like a photo.

It communicates your brand promise in an instant and at the highest level.

Using the words annual meeting in your brand is worse than a photo from #TBT!

Oh, wait! You don’t know what #TBT is. Right? (Even more reason your brand needs an update!)

It’s like one of those old, vintage sierra-colored photos from #Throw-Back Thursday. Everybody laughs and points to the hair and clothes of those in the picture.

Is #TBT the brand you want for your conference? Absolutely Not!

8 Organizations To Emulate

Look at these eight organizations that don’t use Annual Meeting in their conference branding.

Annual Event Brand_Wendy Post 08.04.2014

These associations have progressively evolved to create conference branding that has purpose. Their brand resonates with their industry.

And these brands are better at attracting next generation conference participants as well as industry newcomers.

5 Organizations That Leverage Tag Lines

Some shows have taken things a bit further. Their annual event branding includes a meaningful tag line.

Look at these five conference tag lines.

Tagline_Wendy Post 08.04.2014

The Term Expo Is Also Outdated

If you are using the term Expo as part of your conference, your wrinkles are obvious to everyone but you.

If you have an exhibit floor and brand your event as an Expo, you’re not leveraging the education and networking experience! And that’s what differentiates your conference.

Consider the words Show, Congress, Summit or Marketplace. But be careful as some of those words are also loaded with baggage. For instance Congress is typically a word used in European markets. Summit implies an academic affair.

Instead, consider one of the branding strategies previously mentioned.

Three Positive Outcomes Of A Brand Revision

So what happens if you update your conference brand? How does it help your organization?

1. Your Recognition Increases

Upgrading you branding reflects the dynamic and valuable exchanges of your attendees. It keeps you from getting lost in the clutter of our daily lives. And it helps boost perceived value.

If your bylaws state that you must hold an annual meeting and name it such, list it as one of your conference scheduled events. That should comply.

2. It Increases Positive Decisions

An identifiable conference brand, coupled with strong attendance benefits, resonates with prospective attendees. It gets you noticed. It communicates value more powerfully and succinctly.

And that tips the advantages of attendance in your favor!

3. It Increases Emotional Connections

People create emotional connections with brands. Encourage these emotional connections by accurately representing who you are and where the industry or profession is headed.

What conference brands do you view as progressive? Do you believe that the term expo resonates beyond buying shows? Why?

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  1. Andrew Davis says:

    Great post!
    I’m actually speaking at a Niche Events conference in a few weeks and came across your wonderful article while I was researching.
    Thanks so much for the wonderful perspective. I’ve been preaching content as brands too!
    – Andrew

  2. Wendy Holliday says:

    Thanks Andrew. I wish you well at your upcoming speaking gig!

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