All events need a strong visual identity. Take TED’s instantly recognizable giant red letters, always standing silently in the background of every TED talk. You know you’re watching a TED talk even before you think about it, and by association, you know the next 15 minutes is going to be enlightening because those giant red letters have come to be synonymous with quality insights.
A strong visual identity does more than identify your brand at an event – it shapes how people feel and perceive the event, becoming an active part of the experience. Essentially your event’s visual identity is your event branding – how you project your brand and communicate key messaging visually. An on-brand, thoughtfully designed event identity has the ability to steward your event and your overall brand experience.
We had this in mind when we received Axiata’s brief to create the visual identity for the University Leadership Development Programme (ULDP), a yearly two-week programme where select students are challenged through a series of workshops to flex their leadership muscles.
For a programme with big goals to develop future leaders, Axiata decided to continue with their concept of ‘discovering CEO DNA’ as the key message and theme of the programme. The theme in itself strikes a chord with ambitious students, but the challenge was to communicate that visually throughout the event. ROOTS’ Creative team was tasked with developing this idea into a solid event identity.
We came up with a series of collateral that plays off the ‘Discover your CEO DNA’ concept. For the masthead, an imposing pair of binoculars spell the letters C-E-O, alluding to the idea of discovering one’s CEO potential. The binoculars’ pop of orange – Axiata’s brand colour – stands out against a black background and a DNA sequence.
In the backdrop, a person peers into a pair of binoculars. As if in answer, we see that the view from the binoculars is of the same CEO logo from the masthead and a confident, professional woman with her arms crossed. The confident body language of the CEO figure was carefully chosen to resonate with participants’ desires. This woman represents the young, ambitious CEO-to-be that all ULDP participants aspire to become.
The collateral answers two questions that would be at the top of participants’ minds: “What am I going to get out of this?” and “Who will I become after this?” In essence, achieving what a solid event identity can do: defining the meaning of the programme.
The creative collateral for ULDP were instrumental in sustaining the programme’s overarching theme of discovering one’s CEO DNA. The event’s visual identity was characterized by strong branding and prominent delivery of key messages.
The visual identity helped to create the right atmosphere of excitement and purpose before and during the workshops, and the odds are that at the end of the event, participants will associate the positive experience with a visual memory of the CEO binoculars in Axiata’s trademark orange.
Compare event branding with gift wrapping. A well-done visual identity takes your guests through the ideal emotional path they should experience that’s equivalent to the three stages of gift opening: anticipation, delight, and satisfaction. Like good packaging, good event branding is more than presentation – it’s the harbinger of a good time.