Greater Differentiation through Design
Experiential events are all about touch points or how the consumers interact with a brand.
Events need to convey a message—an overall strategy—and create lasting emotion. Agencies must look at the overall strategy of the brand and create an environment that quickly conveys the message. We believe design is the key to this and necessary to differentiate the event as well as the brands represented.
We cannot deny that technology also plays an important role at events. However, we believe technology and design must exist hand in hand to truly create a successful and differentiated event.
Guests see design and environment at the very start of their experience causing an immediate emotional reaction even before they touch any aspect of the event.
Event design, or “experiential design,” incorporates a wide range of disciplines from architecture and graphic design to set design and interactive design. For this article, we are going to focus on the design disciplines necessary to create the physical environment.
Things to consider when incorporating design to differentiate an event
Designer Is Part of the Team
It is to the benefit of the team to have the creative person involved in the entire production process. From concept to final execution, the designer’s perspective will help to develop a cohesive look while keeping the brand on message. Although there are many different design disciplines, it helps to work with designers who have a sense of 3D design and have experience working in large scale.
Most companies have brand guidelines, including logos, colors, and fonts that identify them. These work as great starting points for any event design. It’s much easier to get client buy-in if the agency has done its homework and incorporated the client’s existing assets.
When developing the design, interview the client. Talk with him/her and find out what they like and don’t like. Because design is emotional, listen and watch body language as they describe their organization. Try to speak with the most senior decision maker. Their aesthetic vision is what matters most. Others within the organization may not know what the true objectives are.
Draw inspiration by gathering images that are relevant and interesting to the event that you are planning, and create an image board. Share internally and engage the team to get their reaction on the design direction. This helps everyone focus on the concept before wasting valuable resources on renderings and CAD drawing. Sometimes we share our image boards with the client if they choose to be part of the process.
Look at the client’s similar past events and programs. This helps to understand the expectations of the client and their audience. For example, fashion events have a very different feel than sports events. One has to be in line with expectations. This doesn’t mean that one can’t deviate from what has been done in the past. The best environments are the ones that are unexpected. However, agencies must be able to support the design decisions.
We have infused our own version of the 30/70 rule into our projects. Design 70% of the project around what you know and what works based on experience. Design 30% of the project around what you have never done before, something that pushes boundaries or is experimental. The 30% makes the project unique, pushes boundaries, and challenges the team.
Design is emotional. In the age of social media, taking the time to incorporate design into the project is priceless in setting your event apart while creating a level of excitement that is long remembered.