Let’s call it what it is—B2B companies have an undeserved reputation for being boring in their branding and marketing efforts.
But it doesn’t need to be that way. In fact, your prospects are increasingly expecting more creativity, lightheartedness, and humanity from your brand than ever before.
Trade shows are an ideal opportunity to add a bit of fun to your brand. As one-off events, they give you a chance to inject that dash of creativity that will elevate the experience for your attendees.
So today, you’ll discover three ways you can play with your branding at your next virtual trade show, so you can be the most memorable exhibitor there.
#1. Develop a Theme for Your Trade Show
A great way to add a dynamic element to your trade show is to build a theme around the event. Doing so allows you to colour outside the lines of your traditional design standards and experiment with different styles of communication.
For example, in February of this year, Salesforce was tasked with turning their physical trade show into a virtual event in just ten days. Originally meant to be held in Sydney, Australia, they recognized that going online was a chance to bring Sydney to the world instead.
The Salesforce team built their event around the theme of “soaking in the beautiful weather of Australia.”
Speakers were positioned in front of backdrops featuring gorgeous views from all over Sydney while animations of cute native animals appeared in between segments.
The result was an incredible, unique, and engaging experience for the attendees, because Salesforce successfully added some excitement to its typically more formal branding.
#2. Create Unique Trade Show Branding
How you decide to “brand” your event will determine the graphics you use, the tone of your copy, and your related touch points.
At Salesforce’s virtual event, besides featuring beautiful photography and illustrations of Sydney, they also used animated designs to spice up their slides.
In the opening keynote, a cartoon plane flew across the screen with a banner welcoming people to the event. The addition of these types of fun elements creates memorable moments, and provides a new, fun way for attendees to interact with your brand.
Here at Red Rocket, we recently hosted a webinar on how to transform your virtual trade show from good to exceptional. For this webinar, we also took a more playful approach to our branding. The colour choices and graphic patterns still supported our brand, which is energetic and people-oriented, but used softer colours and gentler tones.
Slides from Red Rocket Creative Strategies’ webinar: How to Transform Your Virtual Event from Good to Exceptional
For event attendees already familiar with your brand, seeing it represented in a unique way—like Salesforce did, or how we’ve done above—makes the event feel like a special occasion, not just another day at the office.
The trick is to strike a balance between branding your event in a way that’s true to your organization’s identity, but is unique enough to grab the attention of your audience.
So although we’re writing about how to play around with your brand, it’s essential that you don’t take things so far that your brand is unrecognizable. If you get too creative with how you visually represent yourself at the event, you risk breaking the trust and familiarity your clients have with you, which can hurt your relationship.
The solution is to develop a comprehensive graphic standards manual (GSM), and to have everyone in the organization be familiar with it. As you’re working to develop your more creative branding ideas for your event, the GSM will make sure everything you do remains true to the brand.
Hiring branding experts can help you develop an innovative visual standard while remaining true to your brand standards.
#3. Consider an Event Mascot!
B2B businesses don’t often consider that their trade shows could be made better by a mascot. But it’s true.
One thing many B2B companies struggle with is making their brand feel personable. And while nothing is as good as having face time with your customers, a mascot can augment that by creating more opportunities for lighthearted interaction.
There are several things to consider when you choose a mascot.
The first is whether you want a physical costume or a digital animation. Once the threat of Covid-19 has passed, you may want to consider a physical mascot for your next in-person event. The mascot can then interact directly with the speakers and attendees.
In the meantime, a digital mascot may be more appropriate, and can add real value to your online event. You can use it to guide attendees through the event, providing seamless transitions between speakers, break-out sessions, networking time, and even adding bits of humor to intermissions.
Ultimately, a mascot helps make your event memorable.
Even after the trade show is over, attendees will likely remember your brand’s mascot long after the event. The mascot dance off (yes, that was a thing) at the Rowan Chamber of Commerce Trade Show created a memorable moment that brought these brands to life and created lasting connections with the attendees.
Although a physical dance competition is sadly not possible right now, one way this idea can be adapted to a virtual trade show is to pre-record a mascot dance-off and play the video during an intermission.
It’s important for businesses to view their trade shows as special opportunities to capture new audiences and further engage with current clients.
Treating your audience to special moments such as mascots, themes, and branding unique to the event show those in attendance that they’re spending their time with something that’s worthwhile.
It also makes the overall experience fun and engaging, which is a big part of what your audience is looking for when they attend an event.
Transform Your Virtual Trade Show from Good to Exceptional
Our webinar will teach you how to take your virtual trade show from good to exceptional. We'll cover: tips on developing your virtual trade show strategy, how to use experiential content to stand out from the rest, how to use multiple channels together to create an amazing experience, and more!