No Denying the Importance of Branded Events, People!
Events take many different forms, but they all have the potential for gaining an enormous marketing advantage for the company sponsoring them. An event company puts on many events, but the marketing and branding benefits go to the companies or groups that the event is about. Your successful event might even be a non-event such as a rewards program.
Branded Event Benefits
Branded events give the brand increased public exposure, potential media exposure, community involvement, and improved corporate image. The event itself might have nothing to do with the branding company. The 5K run you are attending today might be called the Coca-Cola 5k Run, but actually be about raising money for charity. By branding this event with their name and logo, Coca-Cola will reap the rewards with potential increased sales, improved reach to targeted markets, and significant brand awareness.
Creating Brand Equity
The importance of branded events in creating brand equity cannot be overstated. It is absolutely critical. Brand equity is the value added to the product just because it carries a certain brand. For instance the Coca-Cola 5K run we created previously. People will pay more for a can of Coca-Cola than they will for a can of Special Top Cola (or any generic) simply because the brand – Coca-Cola – carries the brand equity for the product.
When a consumer is faced with the choice between a branded product and a generic, the brand equity brings to mind for the consumer all their past associations with the brand, their loyalty to that brand and their perception of the high quality of the brand. They might also think about or bring to mind the brand logo, trademark, and media advertisements.
Building on the Equity
With this kind of brand equity available to them, companies need to take advantage of the branded event and build on that equity. Companies and groups began in the early 2000s to shift some of their advertising dollars from traditional marketing to branded events. There are two ways that companies participate in branded events.
- Event Ownership – In this scenario, the company actually owns the event it is branding.
- Event Sponsorship – In this scenario, the company makes a donation to a third party. This is a type of sponsorship that fits our example of a Coca-Cola event.
Again, the importance of branded events cannot be overstated. Event marketing is experiencing phenomenal growth. A study done in 2012 by Miller and Washington showed that at least $37 billion were spent on event marketing.
With that kind of money spent on brand equity, no company serious about success can afford to ignore it. Branded events are interactive with the very people you want to sell to in a somewhat personal and immediate way. The runner in the Coca-Cola 5K might be doing it for fun, they might be doing it for whatever charity the run is designated for, or they might be doing it for other reasons. Whatever the reason is for participating, if they have a good experience, they will remember the brand.
The Brand Experience
This event branding leads to consumer’s having a more intense brand experience and brand building experience than they could have with more indirect mass media marketing and advertising. If that Coca-Cola 5K run is also or actually the Coca-Cola Cure Cancer 5K Run, and someone close to you has cancer, after participating in this branded event you are likely to be even more connected to Coke than before, because now you perceive them to care about the cause you care about! Coca Cola’s brand equity goes up in your mind.
Exceed Consumer Expectations
As important as branded events are, the event must impress and exceed the customer’s pre-event expectations. The consumer has to have a good experience, a memorable experience, and one that makes them want to repeat the experience. Event branded shows may be where customers don’t buy the things they see advertised on billboards or television. Instead, they make an investment – a loyal investment – in the brand. When that brand lets them down, they are not just frustrated or disappointed; they can be emotionally devastated and feel betrayed. This happened with Coke changing to the “new Coke” a few decades back.
According to companies that produce branded events, there has been tremendous growth over the past five years or so in requests for these types of events from all kinds of industries and companies. An increasing number of companies are turning to branded events as the integral piece of their communication with their customers.
Time for Branding
The opportunity for communication between the company and the customer begins the moment you learn about the Coca-Cola Cure Cancer 5K run, to the time you register, to the anticipation of the event, to the event itself, and then all the time you spend talking about the event after it is over. That is a lot of time for the sponsoring company to have their brand in the forefront of the consumer’s mind.
Branded events are so crucial to a company’s success these days that they have become part of the strategic planning of companies. It is also true that the firms that put on these branded events find themselves becoming partners with these companies.
Branded events have become so important that companies like Coca-Cola hire event firms to handle everything from organizational planning, invitations, tickets, media, and social media, to the details of the event itself and any follow up. In this process, there is one consistent message, one consistent logo, one consistent brand.
With this pre-event work, the consumer should be able to move seamlessly from entering the event until leaving it with your brand always present, always influencing their thoughts without intruding on the event itself. More and more your company will be drawn to the excitement and success of the branded events you can have.