Think about the Rogue Invitational. Sure it’s held in Dell Diamond, a baseball field in the middle of Texas, but you would hardly know it. Rogue manages to transport you from the baseball field for the Red Rock Express to a Rogue-land of strength, speed, excitement and, if you’re lucky, even a Rogue-a-coaster.
They manage to take this:
And finally, to this:
How do they do this? With exceptional event branding.
Table of Contents
What is event branding?
A lot of people think that a “brand” refers to your logo, color palette or font. It’s much more than that though, especially when it comes to event branding.
Yes, your brand is a combination of all of the above, but it’s also your overall design aesthetic, tone, personality, values, behavors and policies. It is not only a look or style, but a feeling and emotion that customers can instantly identify.
As Jeff Bezos said, brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It is what distinguishes you from your competition.
A good example of this is the difference between these brands in our world of fitness:
- NoBull vs. Nike
- Nocco vs. Monster
- And, when it comes to event branding: The Rogue Invitational vs. Wodapalooza
When we’re talking about event branding, we’re talking about the same thing: it is a recognizable identity for your event that communicates a cohesive and interesting story to your audience.
An event brand should:
- Stand out
- Be recognizable
- Create a cohesive experience
- Mean something to your target audience
- Be all about communication
See how an event brand evokes a different experience based on what competition you’re thinking of? Just like your overall brand, your event brand is used to distinguish your unique event identity for other events.
Why does event branding matter for a fitness competition?
Events as a whole are one of the most effective ways to build loyalty. This means from start-to-finish, from pre-event to the after party and beyond, you should carefully consider every brand detail.
From the minute someone becomes aware of your event, they should understand what kind of experience they can expect from you. This should be communicated clearly and consistently on all your channels through your words, your look, feel, programming, sponsors, competition missions and values.
It should be a no-brainer for your attendees to want to attend, even from the first impression.
Consistent branding is an opportunity to amplify awareness about not only your event – but your brand as a whole, making way for higher revenue.
What are the benefits of effective event branding?
In addition to revenue, a purposeful and meaningful event brand strategy can:
- Create a cohesive experience
- Create an elevated, more premium-level event
- Create opportunity to scale and grow
- Eliminate duplication of efforts year-over-year (or event after after)
- Communicate your event vision
- Create brand awareness and recognition
- Generate new customers
- Attract sponsors and vendors
- Create trust and loyalty
If you’ve done a good job, your event brand will be memorable and live on in your guest’s hearts and minds long-term. Weeks (even months) after your competition has taken place, your guests to evoke positive emotions and recall the experiences they had at your event.
Core Branding Elements
As we mentioned above, your brand is a combination of a number of different elements, all working together to tell a clear story about your event.
When these elements join forces, they create a unified, cohesive experience across all of your touchpoints:
What You Stand For
Determine your event’s purpose and define what ultimate success looks like to you. This will be your event’s North Star, and will keep you and your team motivated to achieve your goals, even during the longest of days and toughest of challenges.
Some examples of your “why” can be:
- To raise funds to support a charity
- To generate income for your affiliate
- To enhance your affiliate brand awareness, internally or externally
- To strengthen your community morale
- To celebrate fitness
- To gain local, regional or global notoriety in the competition space
- …or a combination of any of the above.
Once you have your why, think about your overall vision for the event. If you close your eyes and imagine your event as it’s happening, what does it look like? If your vision is “selling out a
small stadium for a competitive sanctional with live streams and precision,” that will require very different decisions along the way than a quick Saturday morning community throwdown with a few workouts in your home gym.
Your brand values are a critical part of an awesome event. They are the core values that your event believes in and stands for, and is a primary way potential attendees can connect with you. This can be especially important for competitions and events trying to set themselves apart from the rest.
Your event values are not the same as your event goals. Goals are where you want your event to go. Values are how your business behaves as it gets there.
Some events are all about craftsmanship, mastery and expertise, and detail.
Some are more about friendship, accessibility, and fun.
Here’s a handy list of more than 100 examples of brand values that you can use to brainstorm your event brand’s values.
Make sure to have upload your logo into a shared folder so your entire team can access them when they need. Have a full color version, a black & white version and reverse (i.e. white) version of your logo in PNG, JPG and EPS versions preferably.
Numerous people will be needing this information, from your t-shirt screen printer to your social media team. Your brand event color palette should be on one page and have the color codes in RGB, CMYK, Pantone and Hex format so as not to leave any room for interpretation.
Just like your color palette, you do not want to leave any room for interpretation for this. Again, consistency and communication are key for effective branding, so make sure to provide your font specifications and files to your event team, including how and when a font is to be used.
Visuals matter. Every graphic you use should communicate what type of experience your event is going to deliver. Make sure the graphics you choose align with your brand’s why and values, and are high quality and license for you to use throughout all your material.
The CrossFit Games tagline is “The Sport of Fitness”, while the Rogue Invitational’s slogan is “The Iron Game.” By those slogans alone, you can already picture the event experience. Think about a tagline for your event that captures your purpose, vision, values and goals.
Competition T-Shirts + Merch/Retail
T-shirts and merch are a fantastic opportunity to create a cohesive look and feel for your event. There’s plenty of ways here to get creative while staying on-brand, and you’ll create something attendees would be willing to purchase and keep as a souvenir.
Your website is one of the most important items when it comes to your event brand. It’s often the first place people will look for information about your event, so naturally it should be the primary place to set your event’s brand and tone.
For more information on what makes an excellent fitness competition website, check out our article How to build an awesome website for your event as well as 10 Details You Should Have on Your Fitness Competition Website.
If your website is the first place people will look for information about your event, then visiting your registration page is the first indication that they’re ready to attend it. Make sure your registration page is consistent with your event brand and experience. Avoid confusion and disconnect by creating a cohesive experience from your general website info to your registration page.
An easy way to do this is by using Strongest Compete’s powerful no-code website builder, which includes your front-end website, registration page setup, payment tools, waivers and leaderboards. Learn more here, in 7 Ways To Create a Seamless Athlete Registration Experience.
Emails and Digital Invites
Create a custom template in your email management platform that you can use throughout your event. Include your logo, colors, even your fonts so that all your emails are consistent and easily identifiable by your audience.
Like we talked about in Managing Your Upcoming Competition on Social, social is a key channel to help manage your fitness competition. Not only does it greatly reduce the time you spend distributing the same communication to everyone at once, but it’s also an excellent way to flex your event brand. Use social to get your brand out there, bring excitement and anticipation to your event, and open up valuable sponsorship and revenue-generating opportunities.
You might want to consider enlisting the help of influencers that align with your brand so that they can help promote your event. You could even organize a meet and greet event with the influencer and sell tickets to the event. Partnering with the right influencer and the community they’ve built can really boost your event’s reputation.
Alright, so you’ve done a great job of creating a digital even brand. Now you have to deliver the same (if not better) experience in-person. This is where you really bring your brand to life; awesome onsite event branding means a memorable event experience.
Every sign that’s onsite should remind people of what event they are attending. That means everything from the entrance to the exit sign, the athlete check-in and toilet sign (and everything in between) should be branded.
Your event map should be branded as well. It should get attendees excited to visit the experiences, entertainment and events you’ve planned.
Schedule and Leaderboards
Your schedule and leaderboards will be viewed over and over again throughout your event. It’s a great opportunity to ensure your brand is front and centre, consistent and memorable. You can do this easily with Strongest Compete, which also has leaderboard white-labeling and customization options.
Entertainment: DJ, MC, Onscreen
Your announcers and music are key parts of the energy of your onsite experience. Make sure the people you hire for these spots are representative of your brand and aware of your purpose and mission. They can help reinforce your brand and create lasting impressions.
Branded photo backgrounds are a fantastic souvenir for your attendees – and an even better way to have them promote your event through their social networks.
Invite sponsors and other interested vendors that align with your brand’s purpose to a Vendor Village. Ask them to offer something unique for your attendees – maybe a new product to test, a contest, or photo opportunity.
Most events will provide swag bags to their volunteers, athletes and some lucky spectators not only to thank them, but to act as a reminder to come back next year. Swag bags are one of the best opportunities to surprise and delight your attendees, and you can simply build the cost of them into the ticket cost. Make a memorable, branded swag bag with our ideas here, Creative Swag Ideas for Your Fitness Competition.
Event branding matters
Whether you host one or ten competitions a year, you need to take the time to create an excellent event brand. From the Parking sign to your website, proper event branding shows that your competition is high-quality and professional – and lets you grow and generate excitement.