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Why Aren’t Brand Experiences More Experiential?

Written by Kimberly Ness, VP, Animal Health Lead

North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference, the first veterinary conference of the year is behind us.

As February kicks off, I am reminded of the 11 months of conferences still ahead. Having attended these conferences for nearly two decades, I’ve seen many great brand ideas break through the clutter. But this year, seeking fresh perspective, I asked myself, “What do I see?” “What will I remember tomorrow?”

First, all those breakout ideas the conference had rejected over the years are now being executed. Including the escalator branding. (Hey, that was my idea eight years ago!) Other than that, I actually noticed nothing, even though logos and messages covered every surface imaginable. Okay, so no one had implemented my idea of branded toilet paper for canine enteritis, but nearly everything else was branded. This gave me significant pause and curiosity as to what new branding opportunities would become available in 2017 when NAVC moves to the Orange County Convention Center. More importantly, I saw an opportunity to reimagine how brands, big and small, might break through this sea of sameness as we enter a new era of NAVC or any conference.

Below are just a few tips. We can’t share every brilliant idea. Those are saved for our clients, of course.

1. Engaging Sensory Cues for Memorable Brand Experiences

Sight—simply being visible—used to be the easiest way to get noticed. But in a crowded conference environment, your brand is actually just contributing to the clutter. Don’t forget, there are five senses. Stimulate the lesser-used senses to create a brand experience that is relevant to your brand story. The smell of popcorn lures the crowd to an edutaining brand video. (Hint: There’s actually a theater at the new NAVC location.) Or sponsor branded golf carts at the convention center staffed with a trained spokesperson who can talk about the product while the passengers are in route. Catch a Rimadyl® (carprofen) Ride!

2. Unexpected Digital Engagement

Conference attendees expect to be bombarded by brands on the conference property and at the surrounding hotels. What they don’t expect is to see brand messages on their mobile phone or iPad while texting the clinic or seeking dinner reservations. Consider using geo-location based services. According to an infographic from Apps Builder, 60% of targets that receive push notifications check and open them.

3. Impact Over Frequency

With attention spans now less than that of a goldfish, it isn’t about how many times people see your brand anymore. Memorability comes from how people engage with your brand. Bigger budgets that allow for a logoed presence everywhere do not necessarily translate into meaningful brand experiences. And that is the end goal, right?

Our agency is focused on reimaging brands, so not surprisingly, I look at the conference through an experiential brand story lens. But rule of thumb: If you can think of two other brands that have done what you are thinking of doing at your next conference, it is time to reimagine. It might even be time for a new agency.

Feel free to contact me to discuss opportunities for reimaging your brand

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