To truly build a brand that leaves an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of audiences, event marketers must adopt a more strategic, holistic approach.
When it comes to building brands, events and meetings have become powerful tools in the arsenals of marketers and event professionals. Event marketing can tie a brand to a valuable experience; and the event itself allows brands to engage in a high-touch environment where deeper connections between brands, customers, prospects, vendors, and partners can be forged.
A well-executed event can build market share, grow profits, and increase brand equity by creating a stronger and more meaningful connection between a brand and its audience. A poorly executed event can cause brand damage. Events and meetings present a great opportunity for marketers and event professionals to build brand value together.
Events marketing help in brand building by:
Creating awareness about the launch of new products/brand: Creating awareness about the launch of new brands/products. A random survey of marketing and other management magazines including newspapers would reveal the enormous number of brand/product launches that happen every month. For example, a compilation of new products launched in just a month can vary between 6 to 21, the number being higher in the summer months. Similarly, innumerable new music albums, films, etc. get released periodically. Hence, there tends to be a clutter of product launches too and these may not necessarily be confusion among the same product category. The enormous number of launches also leads to the need to overcome the “oh-yet-another-product” syndrome. The need to therefore catch the attention of the target audience, at the time of launch, becomes all the more important. An especially interesting example that can be cited here is that of the launch of an audio cassette label by the name of Wings. The launch event was organized with select celebrities gracing the occasion on board a hired aircraft, literally taking the brand name by its meaning! Such events seldom fail to catch the attention of the target audience.
Presentation of brand to highlight features of product/ service: Sometimes technological changes or policy changes pave the way for manufacturers or service providers to augment their products/brands. To convey this via traditional modes of communication to the existing and potential customer base may sometimes be futile or ineffective. Special service camps or exhibitions are the perfect events that provide the opportunity for a two-way interaction and error-free communication. IMTEX, the Industrial Machine Tools Exhibition, is an event used by most machine tool manufacturers to explain and highlight the new and improved features of their products. The rapid pace with which computer specifications change and that too with drastic effects on their prices, it becomes imperative that dealers and retailers take part in exhibitions to educate the customers on the changes that have taken place and how they will benefit more.
Helping brands during the different stages of the product life cycle: The massive amount of money that is spent during the introduction stage of products gets drastically reduced over time. By the time the product reaches its maturity/decline stage, the need for cutting down the budgets associated with the media campaigns, while at the same time maintaining the customer base is felt. And events offer the best medium for such a focused approach. It helps in generating feelings of brand loyalty in the products’ end user by treating them as royally as possible.
Helping in communicating the re-positioning of brands/products: By organizing or associating with events targeted at a particular group of target audience, it becomes possible for the re-positioning exercise to be carried out successfully. In other words, one can also say that events can be designed to assist in changing beliefs about firms/products/services.
Associating the brand personality of clients with the personality of the target market: Citibank is an elite bank where people do banking with pride. Hence, other premium brands would like to associate themselves with the same audience as those addressed by Citibank, so as to benefit from the rub-off effect. Thus, through an event like The Great Escape—an exhibition-cum-sale event organized exclusively for Citibank credit card holders, small merchandisers like jewelry shops, white goods retailers and others get to do business with the Citibank customers, as well as build and maintain a premium image for themselves. Therefore, here Citibank acts as the event organizer and such merchandisers, who cannot by themselves arrange for premium events on a large scale, participate as clients to associate the personality of their products and brands with the personality of Citibank customers.
Creating and maintaining brand identity: According to newspaper reports, the $ 4 billion, Australia-based Foster’s Brewing Group’s Asian subsidiary in its plan to launch its beer brand Foster’s Lager in India, chose the sports arena for building its brand identity. Reputed for its aggressive marketing thrusts worldwide, Foster’s identifies itself with Australia’s climate, landscape, people and culture of youthful exuberance. Therefore, with ‘Australian ness’ as the core of its brand identity, Foster’s chose the game of cricket—in which the Aussies are known as the best team in the world—to identify with. By becoming the official sponsors of the Australian cricket team on its India tour, Foster’s hoped to achieve its goals of brand identity building and positioning itself at the premium end of the market. Foster’s plan for using events for marketing communication goes beyond sports. They plan to sponsor cultural and local events as well as use promotional schemes along with its trade partners involving giveaways of expensive gifts, tickets to watch cricket in Australia or horse-racing, etc.
Image building: Over and above the brand identity that a company encourages, events such as the Great Escape conceived by Mahindra & Mahindra, exclusively for the owners of their four wheel drive vehicle, the Armada, are an attempt to build a specific image of not only the corporate, but also the product. In its seventh edition and being hosted for the second year in succession by Goa, the offbeat drive event organized by Sports craft and cosponsored by Tidewater Oil Company attracted over 250 participants and 85 vehicles for the grueling 90 km drive. To let owners experience the thrill of four-wheel driving, M&M charts out an offbeat route that emphasizes the difference between normal and four-wheel driving and lets the participants experience the high, one feels when steering and navigating an Armada. The trip also creates a bond between the company, the customer and the product as well as amongst the participants themselves. One of the event savvy companies, Mahindra is very much into sports, in that it has its own active soccer team and also sponsors the World Squash Championship to establish a world-class image worldwide Sponsoring events such as the Olympic Games helps in establishing the identities of these sponsors as truly global players. According to the Atlanta Olympics organizers, 10,700 athletes from 197 countries competed at the 1996 Summer Games, and over 2 million people went to Atlanta to see them. The number of people who tuned in to any part of the TV coverage was predicted to reach around 3.5 billion. With such a large audience, the biggest international event in the world is a natural arena for image building.