The top ten things to consider when choosing a venue for a great brand match.
Finding a venue with availability and the right facilities can be challenging enough, but it becomes all the more complex if you are asked to pick one that reinforces certain brand messages! Branding is all about the factors that make a company, or event, distinctive, and here we take a look at some of the things you should take into account when choosing a venue with brand match in mind.
In order to identify suitable options, you must clearly outline your objectives. Ask yourself questions about how the event will stand out from the others, what will make it unique, and what message you want your delegates to leave with. What do you want it to ‘say’?
As the saying goes, ‘location, location, location’ – an important consideration from an accessibility point of view but equally in terms of perception. Will you benefit from a cosmopolitan, edgy environment or a more relaxed, rural one? Explore the characteristics of your potential destinations, from county (or even country) to district level. Even certain postcodes can convey powerful messages.
How will the type of venue you choose affect the ‘feel’ of the event? There are so many categories – historic, sporting, arty, luxury, boutique to name just a few. It is a good idea to mentally picture your event in several different types of venue to get a sense of which provides the best possible ‘fit’.
As events are becoming increasingly global in scope, it may well be that your event participants are from different backgrounds and cultures so it is important to consider how a venue may be seen in this context. What expectations might come into play, what are participants used to, how do international perceptions vary? If this is your situation it may be wise to investigate the possible impressions your venue could give to different cultures.
You want to know how your choice of venue will be seen by others, and to help establish this you might wish to look at the messages it cultivates. In what kind of communication does your prospective venue engage? Is it proactive – because a venue that actively promotes itself is more likely to take its own brand messages seriously. In terms of style, is it provocative or conservative? It is helpful to get a view of how it will be perceived in terms of reputation and whether that will match your intended impression. It is likely that attendees will google the venue and it can be useful to know how it presents itself in the industry through media, its logo, its own website and other promotional channels. Even choice of font can say something about a venue!
Unique Selling Points
What are the stated differentiators – and are they memorable and aligned with your brand? In addition, to have proper resonance and impact, it is also important that the descriptions a venue provides are solid and meaningful. So, for example, if it says it is green-minded and sustainable, is there evidence or certification to support this and does it come across strongly on the website? Or, if ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘contemporary’ are used in its description, does it run through the property from equipment to decor? It can be damaging for your own event if the property does not live up to its stated claims.
Customisation in terms of signage, set up and other sensory prompts are all part of the brand experience, so you need to consider whether the venue is flexible enough to accommodate your needs. Will you be able to ‘dress it up’ in a way that works for the event?
Food and beverage are typically key components of an event, and can leave a strong ‘taste in the mouth’ of attendees (no pun intended!), so make sure that the menus enhance your desired image. If you are looking to do something that says ‘simple and stylish’, for example, it is important that the ingredients and presentation match that. Or if your brand is keen to promote a ‘local’ appeal, the venue should be prepared to source local produce. If ‘ethical’ is important you will do best providing Fair Trade refreshments. Ensure that the chef is willing and able to be as creative as you need.
Try to get a feel for the organisational culture or ‘personality’, because it will likely affect the attitudes of its staff, its systems and approach to business, all of which can rub off on your event. You will most likely get a feel for this at the initial enquiry stage. Are the staff warm and friendly or efficient but more impersonal, and which is your preferred approach? Do they convey a mood of productive contentment, or come across as stressed in their jobs. Although this can of course relate to personal and individual characteristics and traits, it can also be indicative of the personality of the venue.
Find out for yourself. Brand perception can be a personal thing and not always easy to convey in words alone which is why we would always recommend visiting a venue, or failing that finding someone who’s used the venue so you can get a true ‘feel’ for its likely match for your event. An event management agency will have the experience to tell you, but if you are working alone you might consider using your social media contacts or even a review site to gauge for yourself.
It seems like a lot to consider but it need not be too daunting, and useful perspectives can be gathered through research and common sense. The perfect venues can be subjective, so try to get as much input as possible about your potential choices before making a decision. Finally, it may be that where one aspect of the venue is perfect for the brand, another is less so, and it is likely that there will be some degree of compromise – so you need to be ready to balance a range of factors to achieve the best overall effect.