“OK, planners, ready for some fun? Let’s get crazy and brainstorm for this event, and don’t forget, the sky is the limit!”
It’s often said that the amount of creativity that goes into theme and event development is in direct proportion to the expenditures of said program. Many of you may be nodding in agreement. We learned at a very young age that money can indeed buy happiness, right? But this less about what we have to spend on theme development than it is about how to develop the right theme and work that theme’s message into every possible angle of your event.
Lesson No. 1: Make sure your theme is specific, clear and purposeful
It’s true most good themes are developed in brainstorming sessions, either in groups or within your own imagination. Whatever the source, make sure the inspiration relates to the purpose of your event. If you muddle up the message from the start, you can bet confusion will be the dominant takeaway when attendees walk out the conference door. Your theme should make a statement and set the tone for how your event is seen until the thing is actually over. Even then, some people might remember it in terms of the overall theme.
If you’re having trouble brainstorming, try to list potential company milestones — anniversaries or product announcements, for instance — and decide whether any of those could be developed into a theme. Instead of saying “It’s Our 10th Anniversary,” add buy-in value with a statement like “At National Widgets, We’re Proud of 10 and Still Growing Strong!” Potential sponsors know immediately whose event this is and why it’s happening, employees know what to celebrate, and attendees can anticipate hearing a positive message about company growth.
Lesson No. 2: Start big
Always look first at the big-picture message your theme conveys. You can spin off smaller, more subtle sound bites as that message is developed through F&B, printed signs, collaterals, stage presentations, etc. Ask hotel staff or your vendors how they’d incorporate your theme and logo, and you might be surprised at their creativity.
Hotels have seen it all and a great resource for simple but effective (many at no cost) ideas: Setting glassware on water stations in the shape of your company logo, matching linen colors to your logo’s palette or topping dessert with messages from company executives, for example. Often the little personalized touches are what attendees remember after the closing speeches.
Lesson No. 3: Go pro
Whenever possible, have your theme developed with professional logo artwork, print fonts and color schemes in easily printable dimensions early enough to use it before, during and after your event. There’s a reason we all recognize the little white Apple and the Nike swoosh — and we know the powerful, quality giants that stand behind them. That’s the power you have to create a memorable theme, linked to a timely message, that could make its own mark in history or at least your company archives.
Next: MBEC 4.04 — Develop procurement plan.