An Opportunity in Digital: A Guide to Virtual Event Branding
By Jonathan Brown, VP of Design, InVision Communications
In the events industry, rolling with the punches is second nature. Planners and production teams are often faced with uncontrollable variances to our show’s ebbs and flows which occur naturally when designing something so human. However, this juggling ability hasn’t been tested quite like it is now.
We've been pushed into a catch-22. On the one hand business as we knew it screeched to a halt, but on the other, there is an elevated responsibility to innovate and reinvent ways to connect with our audiences. Regardless of industry or service niche, events leaders have had to evolve and conquer a new digital learning curve in short order, with the biggest uncertainty—how to pull it all together in a way that’s meaningful and impactful for our organizations.
Quickly we realized that digital events aren’t like normal events. While in-person events are more of a spectacle through size and production, there isn’t an existing platform that will directly translate virtually. However, a digital event can be an opportunity to sharpen your messaging and deliver a more intimate and customized experience for your viewers. Strengthening the bond between brand experience strategy and design can help you create digital content that’s more focused, authentic, and relevant.
Here are several keys to shaping a more effective digital experience:
Recognizing your Audience
When working from home, your typical attendees are met with a slew of distractors. Audience members are constantly fighting through noise in the form of parenting, housework, and internet spottiness, each contributing towards a thin attention span. Under these circumstances it’s unlikely that your original scheduled programming will land as planned or even accomplish the same goals. It’s important for organizers to find the sweet spot between what the organization wants to accomplish and what the audience wants to learn.
One aspect unique to digital is reach. More companies are positioning their previously exclusive face-to-face-only events as come one, come all, as they look to serve as a voice for the industry. While this brings together more attendees than before, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a high form of engagement. It’s more important now to understand who your audience is and deliver content that will bypass elusive attentiveness.
The reason for this is an increased appetite for relevancy. With in-person networking, surprise and delight moments, and entertainment reduced on the digital platform, pertinent content now is the primary draw. Providing valuable take-homes, product knowledge, or resources to help your audience do their job better requires a concerted effort to be direct and generous with what you are providing.
Staying True to your Brand
The ballroom experience is a personification of your company’s brand which tends to mean your best foot forward. However, digital events don’t submerge the senses like physical events do and won’t scale to a small laptop screen the size of a piece of paper. While the live brand experience is about how much you can pack into a small space; the digital experience is one much more restrained.
Digital event content requires more selectivity and doesn’t necessarily call for the entire farm to be given away. Discovering your brand’s tone in a digital format is recognizing how to communicate your message clearly while staying true to your identity and values.
This means paying closer attention to event branding aspects such as voice, tone, imagery, and user experience and making sure they are consistent with your company’s central digital strategy. If your main website upholds simplicity and easy navigation, your event hub and all communications should follow suit.
Designing for Digital
With digital events, your attendees have a much narrower view of details such as; typography, artwork, background, and style—aspects not watched as keenly in the presence of ballroom scale. With this new focus, it’s important to be even more selective visually and use your space to enhance a particular message. Sometimes more impact can be made through white space, which helps control the dreaded ‘Zoom fatigue’ problem.
Clarity is key here since there are a finite amount of customizable spaces. Event registration landing pages, slide decks, video/media, and virtual platform menu hubs are the primary elements your designers have to play with, which works in tandem with UX/UI. Modeling these elements according to your existing style guides can help avoid unnecessary complexity and give your audience a sense of brand identity without coming at the cost of user experience.
Your Lasting Impression
Through this period, audiences are seeing brands through a new lens. Although we are still exploring ways to increase production quality, it’s the information and purpose that attendees are after. Organizers have to work closer with the executive team to figure out which aspects are worth preserving and how they tie into a greater theme.
With digital events comes a much more flexible way of staging content. What has originally been confined to a 3-day conference can now be extended, replayed, and promoted over a longer period of time. If your primary goal is to promote and encourage innovation, a more parsed out digital event can help you interact with attendees long after the credits have rolled. When face-to-face events return, these same practices will translate to more powerful live experiences and help you create events that are more effective.
To hear how IVC’s creative teams have been approaching digital strategy and design please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.